- Title: Bad Slave
- Author: Kay Berrisford
- Publisher: Loose ID
- Format: Kindle Edition
- Rating: ✰ ✰ ✰ / ✰ ✰
I found “Bad Slave” – and Kay Berrisford – on total accident. I was browsing through the LGBTQ titles on the Loose ID website because I was bored and in the mood for a good gay romance, and the premise jumped out at me right away. It sounded very promising, kind of fresh for a slave fiction story and kind of cool for an M/M romance as a whole.
It wasn’t quite what I expected, and not always in bad ways.
The premise of “Bad Slave” is summed up pretty well in its blurb, though not without its inaccuracies. Jay, a former captain in his country’s military, is summoned by his king with the purpose of finding a new royal sex slave; one with fire, one with spirit, because the king’s complacent boys have bored him. He finds this slave in Alix, a young miner and inventor who, after an experiment goes wrong, is almost lynched by one of his neighbors. Rather than go to the dungeons and take the risks of execution, Alix agrees to be the King’s bedwarmer willingly. He fits the bill of what the king is looking for well-enough – he has fire, he has spirit, he is brunet with a toned body. So Jay takes him back. And the very first meeting with the king, it all goes to hell.
This book had a lot of content typical to the slave fiction genre. There was a lot of public humiliation (at one point, Jay and Alix are even forced to have sex in front of the court), use of toys/gags/etc., “forbidden” love, tyrannical kings, etc. So as someone who enjoys the slave fiction genre as a whole, I enjoyed a lot of aspects of this little novel. I found it to be an overall enjoyable reading experience – nothing pushed my boundaries and made me feel uncomfortable, even if I do like to feel uncomfortable sometimes. I don’t think it’s exactly a hot-hot-hot story, either, but I enjoy sweet stories too. So it worked for me.
In most ways.
Alix becomes the King’s sex slave, but they never even have sex. I found this to be incredibly unrealistic, and the explanation in the novel didn’t strike me as very plausible, considering Lyam’s sheer level of cruelty.
I also found it cheesy to have Jay’s old enemy from the battlefield return in Jay’s final battle. In general, the ending itself just didn’t do it for me. The most exciting part was cut out because Alix fainted.
The writing, while strong for the most part, was again something that overall didn’t work for me. It swung between feeling contemporary and feeling historical too much. And in a fantasy/steampunk novel, it should always feel historical, unless you purposefully try for a more contemporary feel to your writing.
But, stuff that did work for me?
The setting. The court intrigue. The characters and the romance. I loved that Alix and Jay were unique and beautiful in their own ways and individual of each other despite their feelings for one another. You don’t see that all the time. I loved both Alix and Jay individually and together and that’s rare in a lot of M/M romances I read. I usually end up hating one or the other of the love interests.
In the end, my rating is an “I liked it” instead of a “really liked it” because of the issues I had with the writing and the issues I had with the holes in the plot (like Lyam never having sex with Alix despite the fact that Alix was his sex slave; yes, yes, I know the book “explains” it, but I don’t find that explanation realistic in the least). Still, I did like it. I would recommend this book easily to fellow fantasy and slave fiction readers, so long as they don’t mind what I’ve pointed out in this review. I know some people have issues with public humiliation and the like.
So, 3/5 stars, and I may or may not check out more of Kay Berrisford’s books in the future. Right now though, I have a big enough reading list to get to already. So it’ll probably be a while. But I might.