So it was quite fortuitous that I picked up this short story/novella on Halloween, because if you'd told me it included aliens and tentacles and all sorts of sordid, creepy stuff before I'd started, I would have put it in the horror basket. In my brain, tentacles and creatures that have them looked a little something like this:
I've never in all my born days looked into the anime tentacle sub-culture, but I imagine that this book would fit within its realm quite well.
The premise of the book was interesting and quite different to anything else I've read before. The idea of a human being on an alien planet and being incarcerated and then indentured to the tribute program working for Rehz Akran piqued my interest. Especially when the alien planet's humanoid inhabitants didn't recognise that Earth existed.
Rehz was an interesting character, he did the most deplorable things to our protagonist, Anna Lee (whose names are used interchangeably throughout the story - which irritated me to no end), and while Anna doesn't know why, the reader is lead to believe that there's a higher purpose for all this 'training'.
While I'm on the topic of training... I need to say, this book is not about training. It's about taking a sex slave and abusing her (and other trainers did the same to men as well). And not just a little abuse, no, this is full on non-con. It is hour upon hour of being filled... not just with male body parts, but also various fake versions too. It's about physical and mental torture at its most cruel. Anna is made to submit to Rehz, to hand over her extremely strong will, along with her body and do these things because Rehz says so... without knowing why.
Now, this probably sounds like I have an issue with the non-con... in fact, I don't, but I do have a problem with the book, just not with this part.
The part that I thought let down the rest of the book was the time period of the 'tribute'... once I'd come to terms with what the tribute scheme actually was and why they were training these 'tributes' the way they were... well... I was intrigued. How was this going to play out? Was I going to have my first tentacle sex scene reading experience? I had no idea.
And I still don't!
This is my problem with it. The seeming climax (pun totally intended) was brushed over so quickly, with so few details that it was an epic let down.
If you trawl for dub/non-con and other dark kink readers, you had best deliver. Don't dangle this thing in front of your readers and then skim over it so lightly that it was almost as if that event didn't even exist... get down and dirty. Step so far over that line that there's no uncertainty about how far you're willing to go.
Ultimately, I bought into the somewhat shallow story line and wanted to know what happened in that scene that was skimmed over. I, as a a reader of LGBTQ romance and erotica, found the varied sexual partners and combinations of partners quite refreshing. But, some of the sex scenes were rather dull and seemed repetitive.
I did like the ending, despite it's someone vanilla tinge compared to the rest of the book. I am intrigued to know what happens next. I will be trying out book 2.
Oh, and if you've read all the way through this and you're still not aware that this book is not for children or people who have weak dispositions, then here's the trigger warning... just in case you missed all that above!!
**Note: I was provided an electronic copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**