Title : Choices
Author : Grace R. Duncan
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, BDSM
Length : 380 pages (e-book)
Published : March 4, 2013
Born and raised a gypsy in the late eleventh century, Teman values freedom over everything. He and his best friend, Jasim, are thieves for hire—until one night they’re caught and their precious freedom is revoked. Given the choice between the dungeons or palace pleasure slavery, they become slaves, but Teman vows to escape someday.
Bathasar doesn’t want the throne. He supports his brother instead, which suits their sadistic father, Mukesh. When Teman, the handsome slave Bathasar has secretly been watching, saves his life, Bathasar requests a slave for the first time. Before long, Bathasar and Teman fall in love. But all is not well. One day Mukesh brutalizes Teman before the court, angering the empress of a neighboring nation. To appease her, he then offers her Jasim as a gift, and Teman decides to stay with Bathasar for now—despite the abuse he may suffer.
The peace doesn’t last. Mukesh plans to invade Jasim’s new country, and Bathasar must find a way to stop the destruction. But if he succeeds, he’ll ascend to the throne and have the power to grant Teman his liberty. Then Teman will surely leave him. What other choice could a gypsy make?
A Timeless Dreams title: While reaction to same-sex relationships throughout time and across cultures has not always been positive, these stories celebrate M/M love in a manner that may address, minimize, or ignore historical stigma.
Choices, by Grace R. Duncan, is a story of pleasure slaves. They didn’t start out as pleasure slaves. Teman and Jasim were Gypsy thieves who were caught in a heist. They were given the choice of becoming pleasure slaves or spending the rest of their lives in an underground dungeon. Yeah, I’d go slave too. Of course the pleasure part of it doesn’t really belong to the slave. They’re giving the pleasure. If they get some along the way that’s lucky for them. The Malik Mukesh gets his pleasure sadistically. He likes to tease and beat slaves, using their sexual conditioning against them. He’s a real creep. The amir, Bathasar, also thinks his father is a creep, and he can’t stand the way his dad treats the slaves, especially Teman. After Teman thwarts an assassination attempt, Bathasar takes him for the night. The two guys fall hard and fast for each other. Of course it’s not all wine and roses for a slave in the land of Malik Mukesh. Teman gets publicly beaten by Mukesh. To compound matters Teman’s friend Jasim is given away to prevent an international incident precipitated by the public beating.
Bathasar is stuck watching his father slowly become crazier while destroying his country. Mukesh’s violence escalates as do his plans for war. Something has to be done about Mukesh’s crazy plans. Teman and Bathasar go on a diplomatic mission to try and avert the worst. Luckily, it’s to the country to which Jasim was given. Along the way Teman is also able to see his family as they are encamped along the route. He had a lot of trouble admitting to being a slave despite being absolutely in love with his master. After returning home Teman and Bathasar have to implement their plan to gain control and eliminate Mukesh. Then Bathasar and Teman both have serious relationship choices to make. Seriously!
The characters wrestled with the ethics of slavery. Which is appropriate but didn’t strike me as very realistic given the book had a medieval feel and appeared to be set in west Asia. Despite that it was an interesting set of dilemmas, the most interesting of which was what it means to be free. Teman struggled with the concept of needing something more than freedom. In addition to the issues of literally being a legal slave, Teman also had to come to the realization he enjoyed having another person make his sexual choices for him. He had no trouble with that. Kink is good!
I had recently read a large number of books with very little to no sex and was hoping for a book with a lot of sex. Well, be careful what you wish for you just might get it. This is one of the few books I actually feel had too much sex. Yeah, I get Teman was a pleasure slave and his life did revolve around sex, but there is no way I feel all the sex in this book was at all necessary to the plot. I actually felt it took away from the plot. If you’re looking for a book with D/s subject matter and an insane amount of sex this is it!
Rated 3 stars by Faye