“You are the evil scientist of your desires.” ― Tristan Taormino
Author: K.A. Merikan
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Pages/Word Count: 258 Pages
Rating: 3 Stars
1907, twenty years into the zombie Plague
Reuben is a baker living in the slums of London, sharing a room with his father and an extended family of cockroaches. Poor, uneducated, and repressing all his sexual desires, he leads a life of misery, only sometimes sprinkled with gin and a rough tumble in a filthy back alley.
But when he is abducted into Bylondon to be the slave of a wealthy crime family member named Erik Dal, his values are put to the test. His new master is obsessed with all things equestrian, and Reuben soon learns that if he obeys and performs well as Erik’s horse, he might just get everything he yearns for: pampering, foods he never even dreamed of, and shameless sex with a demonically handsome young man in leather riding boots.
As Copper, Erik’s treasured dun stallion, Reuben must submit to his new master’s obscene fancy of possessing another man completely. That is, if he yearns for treats and not the lick of a riding crop. Fake tails, harnesses, and a new haircut to his ginger mane help Reuben transform into Copper, but the fear of losing his dignity in the eyes of society might just prove to be a bigger restraint than any bit, bridle, or handcuffs.
All that for the small price of his freedom. Though at times, Reuben feels it’s his soul that Erik is after instead.
Review: Having previously read two books by this author, I was really looking forward to reading this one. The blurb sounded great, enough to pique my interest to give it a go. I have to say, the storyline was a little different from what I’m used to reading. I usually have a certain way I do my reviews. Since this book was a little out of my box, I’ve decided to change up my review style for this one. Bear with me while I go into the unknown, figuratively and literally.
I loved the setting, 1907 London, and the very detailed descriptions the authors give us. The zombie plague has made life very bleak. Food is scarce and survival instincts are at the utmost importance for the humans left. The description of this world, the sounds, the smells, the filth in the streets, were so well done I could actually smell, feel and taste the city. I felt the anguish of the people trying their best to live in this new world.
Reuben, aka Copper, is definitely an unforgettable character. He’s got a sarcastic, witty attitude that I just loved. I also felt sorry for him having to hide and repress the feelings he had towards men. His intimate encounters with other men left much to be desired. A ‘wham bam, thank you, ma’am’ up against a wall was about as romantic as two dogs getting it on. He lives with his father and works in the bakery. He allows himself to realize that this is his lot in life and he better make the most of it. I liked him from the start and was keeping my fingers crossed that he would eventually find a better life for himself. Well, he does get what he desires in a roundabout way. But is it worth everything he must do to keep it? I’ll come back to him in a minute.
Erik Dal is a quite the character. A character like no one I have ever read before. He’s an important person in the world outside of London, a place called Bylondon. He’s a little on the eccentric side, loves horses. Loves them so much, the decor of his home is very equestrian-like. My problem with this character is, I never “got” him. I never connected with him in any way other than to feel a little creeped out. I thought him to be a little bipolar. He often gave me whiplash with his ever changing moods. One minute he’s loving and attentive and, dare I say it, even sweet. The next moment he’s bringing out the riding crop to wreak havoc because he was displeased. And if Copper isn’t careful, Erik could very well place his head on a spike and put in on display with the others. In the dining room, no less.
Jack is Copper’s caretaker. He makes sure Copper is bathed, fed and ready at all times for Master Erik. He seems to be very grateful to be off the streets, so I guess he feels like he owes Erik his loyalty for taking him in. I really liked his character; to me he had a very sad aura about him. He knows his place in life and wants to please his master. But, he also lives in fear of it all being taken away from him if he takes one wrong step. He doesn’t belong in this household, but with the world the way it is outside, he’s safer within these walls. I believe he would do anything to keep it that way too. He can probably be Copper’s best friend or his worst enemy. Time will tell.
Did you say Pony play?
That’s right, folks, Erik is grooming Copper to be his stallion. Of course, Copper is at first thankful he wasn’t sent to the arena to fight the zombies, he’d definitely be dead by now. Instead, he’s handpicked by Erik himself to be pampered and broken in for Erik’s pleasure. Now, I don’t have a problem with role playing. From the very limited knowledge I have, the authors did a wonderful job portraying the process step by step. Copper is basically kidnapped and forced into his situation by a friend’s betrayal. At first I was terrified for him, but all along he kept his wit, his sarcastic nature. He loved having food to eat, the warm baths, the warm bed. He also loved the sex and soft loving touches. Not so much the floggings and punishments he received. The tail he was forced to wear, the bit in his mouth, his arms bound at his side, his personality never diminished. Throughout it all, he kept his dark humor. His inner dialogue was amusing, and he never lost his sarcastic wit. He did what he had to do in order to please Erik and keep himself in the luxuries that were bestowed upon him. Yea, he could get used to this.
I wondered many times about the author’s intent when creating Erik. Was he supposed to come off as unstable, or is that just how he appeared to me? Seeing him interact with Copper was interesting. At first I thought him a tyrant, keeping a human pet? Was he mad? Then we see a softer side to him. He’s gentle, giving loving touches and soothing words to Copper. He’s hot and cold in the blink of an eye. His motives and actions are not consistent, often erratic. For example, he insists on 24/7 Pony Play, that Copper remain a horse at all times, but then he brings Copper into the house for a walk. What could be seen as a silly, inconsequential detail threw me out of the story. Doesn’t make sense why he would bring a “horse” into the house when he’s made the rules of role playing very clear.
Like I said before, he gave me whiplash with his mood swings. Maybe it’s just me, but I expected Erik to be a bit harsher. From the blurb, seeing the words slave, crime family, possession, abduction, I geared myself up for a pretty dark read. While at times it is dark and gritty, we got a lot of tenderness too. Of course a horseman can be gentle and loving with his horses, even when they can’t show the same affection for the people in their lives, but I felt the instances in this book were inappropriate and out of place based on everything else that was going on. I guess I wanted him to be a monster. He wasn’t. Maybe a little off his rocker, but he’s not a sadistic beast. I think I wanted to see a little bit of that in this character. I never understood him.
From what I hear, the author is planning this to be a trilogy. Because of the abrupt ending, which I wasn’t a big fan of, it is obvious there is more to the journey. It will be interesting to see where this story goes, though I’m still on the fence about whether or not I will read on. My curiosity about Copper and Jack’s future will probably have me going back for more. We shall see.