Title: A Most Personal Property
Author: Darrah Glass
Pages/Word Count: 460 Pages
Rating: 4 Stars
Blurb: In the heat of August 1900, Henry Blackwell—rich, handsome, and painfully shy—anticipates the purchase of his companion slave, that most personal of properties, with equal parts excitement and dread. There are limits to what a gentleman might do with his slave and still remain a gentleman, and what Henry craves goes far beyond what’s allowed.
Martin, a slave from House Ganymede, is the most beautiful young man Henry’s ever seen, and he’s ready and willing to do as Henry commands, but Henry’s afraid to ask him for what he really needs. A master needn’t care what a slave thinks or how he feels, but Henry can’t help wanting Martin to like him anyway. If Henry could be certain Martin wanted the same things he does, he might be bold enough to reveal his secrets.
Unfolding against a backdrop of progress, privilege and turn-of-the-century amusements, the four installments of the Ganymede Quartet present an erotic coming-of-age fantasy of Gilded Age New York in which young men from the richest families form intense bonds with the slaves who serve them.
Review: Darrah Glass has created a fascinating world with A Most Personal Property, the first book in the Ganymede Quartet. The setting is 1900 New York, and the author has cleverly replaced the commonly recognized aristocratic hierarchy with a world in which the most privileged families own slaves. Instead of simply being servants, those in servitude are actually the property of the family, and at age 16, rich young men and women are able to purchase a ‘companion slave’. These slaves are not bought under duress, however, nor do they desperately miss their freedom. These boys – and girls, though I’ll only discuss the boys, since they are who we get to know in the story for the most part – are born and raised for this service. They actually look forward to their auction day, and even have dreams of their future master and what type of family they hope will own them.
This is certainly the case for Martin, a slave from House Ganymede, one of the oldest and most reputable slave houses. Martin has dreamed of having a kind, and even loving master, and has the good fortune of being purchased by Henry Blackwell, who is everything Martin hoped for and more. Now, I have to stop here and clarify that A Most Personal Property is told from Henry’s point of view, as I understand all four books in the Ganymede Quartet will be. However, if you want to get into Martin’s head, which I definitely recommend you do, then you’ll want to read the free companion piece, A Superior Slave, the prequel to the series. In A Superior Slave, we learn so much about how these boys grow up and what it means to be trained as a companion slave. We especially get to know Martin and his fellow ‘superior class’ slaves.
It was easy to get wrapped up in this story. This universe is so incredibly well thought out, and feels so historically correct, it’s easy to forget that there is any fantasy element to it at all. The research was obviously extensive, from the clothes, language, and manners, on down to the types of activities young gentleman of the age would have enjoyed. The only element that took a bit of wrapping my head around was the fact that these are 16 year old boys. I have to admit at first I was a little bit weirded out at the idea of reading a story with so much sexual content involving main characters who are so young…But, when I thought about the time and setting, and realized that people grew up much faster then – married younger, were sexualized much earlier – then it wasn’t an issue for me. Also, at the heart of it, this is not a story about sex but about two young men who find each other, are intensely attracted to each other, and begin to fall in love in a time and place where it is strictly forbidden.
This is an extremely difficult situation for Henry. He wants Martin almost more than he can stand, yet he feels he can’t allow himself to take even the tiniest bit of pleasure from him, because he fears he won’t be able to control himself. Having feelings for, or reciprocating pleasure for, a slave just isn’t done, and that is all Henry wants—to be able to show his true heart to Martin and, really, to the world. He is already resenting having to hide his feelings, and I can only imagine that gets worse over time. It will be so interesting to see where things go from here.
A Most Personal Property is a deeply romantic and charming story. The tension between these two boys in the first half of the book was nearly unbearable. But, when they start to figure things out, they reeeeaaaaally start to figure things out, if you know what I mean, *wink wink*. Seriously, though, I completely fell in love with Martin and can’t wait to see what the author has planned for the rest of the series! I will definitely be there for the rest of the journey as they continue to evolve and grow, and learn how to navigate their world.
*Afterthought* It is now a bit more than 24 hours since I finished the book and began the review, and I can’t stop thinking about these characters…Good book, you guys. Really good book. 🙂
You can buy A Most Personal Property here: