“Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate.” –G.K. Chesterton
Author: Kay Berrisford
Publisher: Loose Id
Pages/Word Count: 173 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: When the king commands former war hero Captain Jay Ghair to find him the perfect royal sex slave, Jay’s quiet new life as a librarian is shattered.
Jay discovers the boy he’s looking for in Alix, a lowly miner and wannabe court scientist, whom Jay can’t help but secretly adore. However, teaching the rebellious Alix to be a docile slave is difficult. Alix will behave for just one man, and it isn’t the king. It’s Jay.
Standing by while the king’s treatment of Alix becomes cruel is torturous for Jay. He longs to return to his library, yet he can’t bear to leave Alix, or his people, unprotected. To rescue Alix—and save the realm from the increasingly tyrannical king—Jay must confront the demons of his military past and take up the sword again. But his most important battle must be won through returning Alix’s love and learning to master this bad slave who submits only for him.
Review: Sometimes the characters in a novel are so well written that they overshadow any other flaws that may exist in a story line. For instance, in Bad Slave by Kay Berrisford, there is little world building, although we are most assuredly in a place far removed from earth as we know it. Also, there is a mystical religious overtone that determines how this kingdom is ruled and by whom, and yet, even though it is mentioned again and again and is a fairly important plot point, we never get a full understanding of what that religion is or how it came into being. And then there is the mystery of why a retired officer of the King’s army would be called upon to procure a new sex slave for that same king. Jay Ghair had served the current ruler’s father and, frankly, seemed an odd choice to carry out such a trivial task, After all, the king already had a harem of slaves—so why one more?
So you see, this novel by author Kay Berrisford definitely had rather large plot holes, but I was amazed at how easy it was to gloss over these problems due to this authors really extraordinary gift of writing incredibly nuanced and believable characters. Simply put, I fell in love with Jay and Alix— head over heels in love. Jay, so withdrawn from the world, so determined to live out his life in solitude after losing his consort and friends in the bloodiest of battles to preserve the kingdom, pulled at my heart more than I could have imagined. As I read his story and watched him fight against his growing attraction to Alix, I saw glimpses of real life men and, yes, even women, who struggle every day inside a lonely existence of their own choosing. Emotionally crippled to a certain extent, nonetheless Jay finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into palace intrigue all in order to watch over the young man he offered up to a selfish, cruel despot of a king.
And that brings us to the slave himself, Alix. Just skating the stereotypical poor, undereducated genius in the rough, stock character, Alix proves to be so much more. Author Kay Berrisford deftly creates a young man who is not only intelligent but sweetly naïve and gentle at heart. His outward cockiness and quick saucy humor tends to mask the fearful longing emotions that actually rule Alix. He genuinely wants to be loved, wants to create new and amazing machines, and wants to live freely for the first time in his barren, poverty stricken life. When these two men meet, you know that theirs is a match made in heaven, and nothing should be allowed to keep them apart.
So, yes, Bad Slave, by Kay Berrisford had some real plot holes and a decided lack of development in critical areas that would have made this novel a five star read. However, those problems aside, this novel was, for me, a delight to read. It took me just a tad bit outside my comfort zone with its hints of BDSM and the way in which it often skirted the edge of non-consensual sex. But I never once felt this story was brutal or far from a place of redemption due to the fact that its main characters were so fully developed and cleverly written. Instead, I found myself voraciously reading this story to find out how these men fared and whether they would see their happy ever after. For me, Bad Slave did not disappoint!
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