Title: Learning to Want
Author: Tami Veldura
Publisher: NineStar Press
Length: 62 Pages
Category: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, BDSM
At a Glance: Learning to Want is a riveting sci-fi story that kept me hooked till the very last page.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Khoram is an enforcer, a bodyguard, but his boss has just betrayed him. Now he’s stranded on a desert planet he’s never heard of, chained to the only other human around.
Atash grew up in the cracks of Dulia’s complex social structure, where dominance and submission are a man’s worth. He’s struggled for years on a lower caste but Khoram could be his ticket to a better life if they can find common ground.
Atash wants to teach Khoram the art of submitting by choice and maybe make a name for himself along the way. Khoram, however, isn’t here to play Atash’s political games. He’s going to escape, if his former employer doesn’t see him killed first.
Review: I truly love it when I read a new author’s work and am able to add yet another name to my “must read again” list. Learning to Want, by Tami Veldura, was my first exposure to this delightful storyteller, but it will certainly not be our last encounter. This novella can easily fall into the sci-fi, futuristic genre, with a dash of paranormal thrown in for good measure. Veldura creates a planet called Dulia, inhabited by a race called the Frea, whose outstanding feature is the fact that they are a collective of beings operating as a unit or “hive”, but all with distinct voices and desires. They are also the ruling caste in a society where there are definitely clear social status levels. The one thing the hive enjoys is the role of voyeur, watching as a master Dominant takes his submissive through a scene specifically designed for them to observe and often interact with in some capacity. The key here is that the submissive enter into the act freely; this heightens the pleasure the Frea derive from observing the act itself.
Atash is one such master who has been playing this role for some years. We come to discover that he does so in order to gain access to the highest level of the Frea and retrieve from them something they hold that belongs to his mother. In ways that, unfortunately, are not clearly explained, Atash’s mother holds him captive in his role until he can retrieve the thing she wants. Unfortunately, to perform at the highest level, Atash must have a true connection to his submissive—a mental and emotional one that he has yet to find. When he discovers Khoram at a slave auction, he is stunned to realize that this man seems to be the one—the person to whom Atash can have a full and genuine link to that will, in essence, tie him to Atash forever. The only problem is that Khoram, once an enforcer for a very corrupt woman, was ambushed and forced into slavery, and barely hides his contempt for being chained to Atash like a dog.
There were so many aspects to this novella that were both fascinating and emotionally intense. To begin with the descriptive prose used to set the scene of this other world was gritty and so well done that you could almost feel the heat rolling off the desert-like planet. Then, there were the Frea themselves, who were presented as separate entities but who moved and responded as one. That was not to say that they all conversed simultaneously—in fact, Khoram was often intrigued by Atash’s ability to respond to the collective when many were communicating either with each other or with him at the same time. Add to this a swift moving plot and the stunning Dom/sub scenes that were enacted during the novella, and you have a story that keeps the reader engaged to the very end. But it was ultimately the Atash we saw when his guard was down that made this novella really shine.
Withdrawn and analytical to a fault, Atash seemed remote and cold while engaging in a scene–until he took his submissive in hand during the aftercare phase. It was here, seen through Kharom’s eyes, that the real Atash emerged. Atash was compassionate and caring, gentle and loving, even though he had no real love connection to the submissives he trained. Nonetheless, he had a true gentle heart that cared for those who gave the gift of their submission. These were the moments that lent such credibility to Kharom’s eventual decision as to whether or not to submit for Atash and truly gave an added richness to an already well-crafted story.
My only real criticism of this novella was that it would have benefited from more back-story on both Atash and Kharom, as well as some additional time for their relationship to develop. Due to that, the decisions made by Kharom and Atash at story’s end were pretty swift and felt rushed overall. However, Learning to Want was still a riveting sci-fi story that kept me hooked till the very last page.
You can buy Learning to Want here: