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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hidden Heart by Thom Lane

Hidden Heart by Thom Lane
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (150 pages)
Other: M/M, BDSM, anal sex
Rating: 4 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

Tiffin is a slave boy, branded and chained, trained to serve and eager to please. That’s all he knows; his past life is a mystery, wiped from his mind. Sold to a grim fortress and facing a bleak future, he seeks comfort where he can find it, in the arms and at the feet of Sergeant Zander. He’s happy to give over control of his body to that dominant, delightful man -- but someone else keeps stealing into his mind, taking over.

Tiffin doesn’t know how or who. All he knows is how much trouble he’s in, and how much worse it’s going to get...unless Zander can help him discover what's going on, before he literally loses his mind.

A slave’s mind may be the most dangerous weapon. Tiffin wakes up as a slave without any memory of how he came to be one. He has no knowledge of his past, his family, or how he became a slave. In Amaranth, slavery is so common that no one cares who Tiffin was or if he should be a slave. His mind holds mysteries that he can’t understand and a dangerous mage is making a power play through that blank slate. Only the care of a Sergeant may save Tiffin’s life and his mind, but at the cost of his heart.

Hidden Heart is a fantasy story about real life slavery. In Amaranth slavery is an accepted part of life. Slaves are worth nothing and treated like animals. This comes across in a fantasy BDSM atmosphere. I say fantasy since none of this is true to life or even an accurate portrayal of BDSM but for those that enjoy total fantasy stories, this series offers that. The third story in the series can easily be read alone with new characters and a totally new situation that happens to be in the same environment as the previous books. Here the main slave Tiffin is lost and confused between his new masters and the powerful mage that sometimes controls his mind.

Caught between the opposing forces, the fate of one slave is of consequence to no one... except a young Sergeant that’s taking a liking to Tiffin. The relationship between the two builds easily and offers comfort with discipline. The Sergeant is not a loving master but he’s also not cruel and that idea of safety attracts Tiffin. He yearns to belong to someone who can care for him and keep the daily cruel injustices to a minimum, if possible. There’s no sense of consent or fairness when applied to slaves and Tiffin sees his only chance at happiness being with Zander. At the same time the plot involving a power play by a distant mage is interesting but left questioning. Why this happened and who Tiffin was – how was he chosen? – and any number of questions are never answered.

Hidden Heart is not a story that will appeal to everyone. Its real life slavery themes will bother some readers and I’d recommend this only to those that can and want to indulge in fantasy situations. There is no question that the sex is rape between the two main characters, although as a slave Tiffin not only accepts this but makes the best of it and comes to want it. Readers bothered by this should avoid the book while those that won’t mind such in this fantasy setting may enjoy the interesting story paired with hot sex.

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