Today, I’m reviewing The Slave Palace, book one in the Kingdom of Slaves series by Wendy Rathbone, a m/m alternative universe romance.
Title: The Slave Palace
Series: Kingdom of Slaves, #1
Author: Wendy Rathbone
Genres: M/M alternative universe romance, BDSM, slavery
Publication Date: January 24, 2019
Blurb: Conquered. Captured. Sold as a pleasure slave.
After being taken as a prisoner of war, Wulf fights his captors and is sold as a One-Night Thrall to be used and abused, then put to death. He is purchased by a high ranking master of the famous Slave Palace. Why Locke buys him, Wulf has no clue, but something about this master is intriguing. Instead of abuse, Wulf is plied with luxuries he has never known by a man who actually seems to respect him.
Jaded. Looking for a challenge.
Eminent Master Locke takes on a bet with his best friend that he can’t train and tame a dangerous One-Night Thrall in ten days. But something about this slave stirs him like no other before. All bets aside, Locke has the urge to keep Wulf, as well as save his life. But Wulf is fierce, unwilling, and his consent papers have been forged. If Wulf doesn’t soon submit to his role as a slave, he will be sent to death as a prisoner of war.
A sweet, slow-burn love story taking place on an alternate contemporary Earth where owning pleasure slaves is legal.
I won this book at a Facebook Group, and I always read and review book wins. First, this is an interesting concept. I don’t know much about the BDSM lifestyle, but the story seems to parallel it. Locke is a master and Wulf is taken against his will as a slave. As stated in the blurb, what I presume is supposed to be the current United States allows for sex slaves. The country Wulf comes from (they are extremely sexually repressed) are fighting from being conquered by the current US, and Wulf is captured during a battle. He’s taken as a POW and sold at a slave market where Locke acquires Wulf.
Neither countries seem to achieve a state of balance. One over-indulges in sex so much they take and train slaves to please those who can purchase them, and if not purchased, the slaves live out their lives at the sex palace. And although the slaves do consent to their training, being a slave is a lesser evil than the fate that awaits them if they don’t consent. To show how too much of a good thing rings true, Locke is bored. He’s trained so many slaves and has indulged in so much sex, life seems to have lost its sparkle for him.
The other country (Wulf’s) is so repressed, they deny themselves sex, and there isn’t any respect for their own people. It’s a very sad life he lives, almost slave-like.
While reading, I crossed my fingers, hoping the characters would achieve some kind of “balance.” I won’t give away if they did. That’s a spoiler.
I will say it is a slow burn relationship, and I liked this. Locke is not a cruel man. Far from it. He is very likeable and extremely respectful to those under him, and he uses psychological means to train new slaves. I can see why he’s the Eminent Master. Wulf believes he’s to be put to death for being dangerous and a non-conformist. He has no idea of the “bet” Locke makes with another master to tame Wulf in ten days.
The author did her job and kept me reading until they end, because I was curious how this would play out. I felt extremely sorry for Wulf. He had much to adjust to: being captured during a battle, going from a sexually repressed society to a palace that is only about serving others for their sexual pleasure, and adjusting to his new surroundings. But there was a major reason for Wulf to acquiesce and it’s a shock collar placed around his neck. If he doesn’t obey…ouch. But Locke doesn’t use force with Wulf. He uses patience to get his slaves to comply and delves into their psyche by reading up on their backgrounds.
At first I was kind of “hmm” since Wulf’s character arc seemed to move fast—and this is a slow burn romance. For what Wulf faced by giving in, it went against what he’s been bred as since he was a mere boy. I expected more fight from him. Months of a fight. But with him believing death’s looming over his head, he didn’t have a choice, so I am wrong, and the author is right by how she moved Wulf’s character arc.
I loved Locke’s character arc. This was executed extremely well. Bravo to the author. She did an awesome job from his state of mind at the beginning of the story to how he views the world, and Wulf, at the end.
If you never encountered slave fic (I think this is what it’s called), I recommend you give the Slave Palace a try. The author handles this contentious subject matter with great respect and care, and so do her characters. She’s a solid writer and presents a different take on romance in a slave palace. Bravo. Well done.
I must say it’d be interesting to see how their relationship plays out, say, seven years later. Will Wulf tire of being a slave? Will Locke give Wulf his freedom? I do hope the author explores this in a sequel, because if she does, I’ll be the first to read and review it.
Get yourself a copy at Amazon.
Have you read the Slave Palace? Do you agree with my review? If you didn’t read it yet, are you willing to purchase a copy and give the novel a try?