Author: Andrew J Peters
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Rating: 3 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Kelemun was bought from his peasant parents to tend the inner sanctum of the house of Aknon, where wealthy men pay mountain sapphires to behold the beautiful servants of the god. Chosen to bring offerings to Caliph, Kelemun captures the fascination of the young prince Praxtor who has never been denied anything his heart desires.
Ja’bar was hired to roughhouse wayward proselytes for the high priest Aknon-Horheb. In Qabbat’lee, it’s good paying work for a Stripeling, a jungle savage in the eyes of the city natives, and if he’s stingy and stays out of trouble, it will buy him a plot of river land.
But the splendor of Qabbat’lee is a mirage disguising a grotesquerie of corruption. When Kelemun and Ja’bar’s threads of fate entwine on a night of chilling betrayal, their only hope for redemption and survival may lie in one another.
Review: From the moment Kelemun is born he is a burden to his family. So he’s handed over to the priests for a fee. The priest basically buy young boys from poor areas and convince them and the people in the village that it is their duty to their god to give their bodies over for sexual gratification to anyone willing to pay the price. Of course the temple keeps the profits. All the boys are chosen for their beauty. Kelemun is chosen as the most beautiful and given a title. This angers one of the men in charge who then takes it upon himself to make Kelemun pay. When Kelemun loses his temper he’s sold off to a handsome prince who is smitten with him. So he goes from giving his body to others for God to a prince’s concubine.
I think this story could have been better for me personally if it had gone somewhere. Kelemun is passed around and then escapes. He’s devout to his god. Then sad and lost he’s been forsaken by the men of the temple. He’s attracted to the prince but when he doesn’t get the attention he wants he decides to just do what he wants. Which ends terribly. His time at the castle was fairly interesting because of all the characters and politics involved with all the king’s wives. I just didn’t see why there was all the build up. His reasons for leaving were noble but I in no way believe the ending is plausible. Two men double cross and escape men of very high power and ride off into the sunset? There’s really no HEA here either. More of a HFN.
The most compelling and interesting part of this book for me personally was Ja’bar. I preferred the portions of the book with his POV. I enjoyed his thought process through his journey. His struggle with being a good man versus his struggle to survive despite his given social status. I felt like his POV told a more thorough story as where Kelemun’s was just some bad stuff that happens to him. I had a good sense of who Ja’bar was but Kelemun was all over the place. Weak,shy, violent, dutiful, defiant, brave and then dependent on a stranger. I should feel something for my MC. Especially given he’s been mistreated his entire life. I don’t know. Maybe this book just wasn’t for me. It’s definitely not a romance which is fine for me. Some of the details and world building were wonderfully written. The corruption of the church was fairly interesting but again no resolution to it. The King’s concubine’s were interesting but that never really went anywhere. I guess I just didn’t see what the point of creating this world just to be whisked away from it and given an unsatisfying, for me, ending.