Author: Astrid Amara
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Rating: 4 stars
Type: Standalone Novel
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Worst Possible Birthday: Being sold into slavery by none other than your lover.
Tover Duke’s rare ability to move anything instantly across light-years of space makes him a powerful, valuable asset to the Harmony Corporation, and a rock star among the people of the colonies. His life is luxurious. Safe. Routine.
He has his pick of casual hookups passing through Dadelus-Kaku Station. His one brush with danger of any kind—the only bright spot in his otherwise boring life—is Cruz Arcadio, a dark-haired, hard-bodied engineer whose physical prowess hints he’s something much more.
When a terrorist abducts Tover, hurling him into a world of torture, exploitation and betrayal, it’s with shattering disbelief that he realizes his kidnapper is none other than Cruz. As Tover struggles to find the courage to escape his bondage, he begins to understand the only way to free his body, his mind—and his heart—is to trust the one man who showed him that everything about his once-perfect life was a lie.
Review: Tover Duke is important. Tover is a navigator and is vital to the colonization of the universe. Tover knows he’s important and likes to be important. Tover may be a little bored and slightly disaffected, but he’s important. Harmony is giving Tover a huge birthday party. There is a parade and adoring fans. Tover wants to see his current favorite lover, Cruz Arcadio. He doesn’t expect to see a wounded Cruz breathing through a respirator holding a gun to Tover’s head and demanding Tover jump him to a distant satellite that happens to be full of pirates. Tover catches on quick if he doesn’t jump them out of there Cruz will be dead. After the jump Tover finds himself horribly weakened and at the complete mercy of terrorists. Cruz is one of the terrorists that sells Tover to pirates. Tover’s experience at the hand of pirates is not good. It’s graphically not good. No, really. Tover spends a lot of time plotting how to get revenge on Cruz.
Tover is rescued/kidnapped by Cruz and his band of terrorist friends again. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until Tover was severely injured that he was away from the pirates. Tover finds himself on Cardia and under the care of a doctor. Tover may have left the fire but he’s still feeling the heat. Cardia is the home base of the terrorist group Cruz is a member of. The terrorists see Tover as a potential asset. They don’t realize he’s not only horribly physically wounded but suffering from PTSD. Tover can’t navigate. Not even to save his own life. Being stuck on Cardia with Cruz is an enlightening and frustrating experience for Tover. Being rescued by Harmony is even more enlightening.
Wow, this book is dark. A lot of this book is comprised of really horrible things happening to Tover. This is the darkest book I’ve read by Astrid Amara, and I’m a fan of her dark stuff. I did not want to stop reading this book, but I had to put it down to calm down before I was ready to be seen by other people. Technically this was also a pretty angsty story. Cruz had a lot of guilt. Very justifiable guilt. In an attempt to save an entire planet and all its living inhabitants Cruz destroyed the man he loved. Tover is not the same man as he was prior to his torture. Consequently, Tover had some trust issues. Very justifiable trust issues.
Cruz was attempting to save an entire race of people and Tover was sort of blasé about that. That the birds of Cardia were going to die persuaded Tover to help. I found that fascinating. I don’t know what it meant about Tover, but it was fascinating nonetheless. This was interestingly juxtaposed with Cruz’s idea that it’s okay to sacrifice one man, even if you love him deeply, to save many. At the beginning of the story Tover had very little connection to people. There were people he knew and were important to him in terms of work, but only one person was important to Tover the person as opposed to Tover the navigator. And that one important person was the one who sold Tover into slavery. So, as you can see, Tover has some really complicated motivations toward people. Birds are much simpler.
One of my favorite things about speculative fiction is its ability to comment on modern social ills. This book covers a lack of privacy, corporate greed, and corporate lies. Cruz goes to extreme lengths to save his home. Do we think corporations aren’t going to go to extreme lengths to preserve their earnings potential? Harmony certainly goes to extreme lengths. I’ll say one thing about the nasty, torturing pirates: they never lied.
Overall I feel this book was dark and compelling. I wanted to keep reading this book even when I had other things to do. I would have liked to have Cruz’s perspective on things, but I found him to be a very sympathetic character even without that. Tover had a long journey to become more than a navigator.