Sunday, October 12, 2014

Review of In Distress by Caethes Faron

In Distress
In Distress by Caethes Faron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In Distress is an excellent sci-fi romance. Set in a future when Earth is still trying to recover from the Great Destruction, a class system has emerged similar to that of medieval times with Zeds being the lowest class (slaves), Betas being a middle serving class who are owned but rank higher than Zeds (serfs), and Alphas as the upper class (nobility). While there was no “crown” to whom they all pledged their allegiance, they all were lower than the Geneticists whose role was to “fix” the human genome that was mutated during the Great Destruction. The establishment of the caste system was part of the way they did this. Genetic testing at birth was used to determine to which class an infant belonged and as Zeds were not allowed to procreate, they would eventually die out and the human genome would repair itself as weakness was bred out of the human race. Not only were Zeds sterilized to prevent procreation, they were also denied access to all forms of medical care, including simple pain relievers.

Knowledge of the system within which this book is set is vital to understanding the significance of the relationship that develops between Malcolm (Alpha) and Will (Zed). Will has been owned by several Alphas throughout his short life. However, due to a horse riding accident, he is no longer a desired Zed because his leg was severely broken and did not heal properly due to denial of medical treatment. If a Zed remains unowned for 30 days, they are slated for destruction and Will is only a few days away from that marker. Will’s anger over his situation does not allow him to act defeated and his pride forces him to make eye contact with Malcolm when he comes to the market to purchase a new Zed. I was in awe of Will’s character from the very beginning. His situation would cause most to wallow in feelings of hopelessness, yet Will refuses to let “them” take his dignity, he will not stand down and he will not go easy when his time is up. Will is a fighter through and through, which is why he refuses to believe the happiness of his new owner’s home is real. ALL of the other Zeds Malcolm owns are damaged in some way. As he gradually adjusts to his new life, he finds he cannot reconcile the family he is now a part of with the Alpha who gave it to him – mainly because Malcolm is avoiding him, but also because of his past experience with Alphas. When Will forces a confrontation with Malcolm, Malcolm realizes the disservice he has done to all of his boys (his affectionate term for the Zeds he owns) and is determined to stop avoiding Will. Malcolm’s return to routine lets Will see the man behind the Alpha and he is determined to give something back to Malcolm.

This determination is what takes the story in a direction I didn’t see coming, despite hints at it in the synopsis. Malcolm is a masochist and the only thing that Will feels he can offer Malcolm is the release his masochistic tendencies require – even if Will no longer wants to “beat on the Alpha.” As Will works to balance his desire to serve Malcolm while not giving into his own anger, the two men become close and their relationship begins to develop. I enjoyed watching Will come into his own sexual identity as he helped Malcolm. Will is not a sadist and because he got to know Malcolm and came to care for him, he didn’t want to hurt Malcolm in his effort to help him. As Will learned Malcolm’s physical cues, he began to take his own pleasure in meeting Malcolm’s needs – he found satisfaction in being able to help Malcolm find his pleasure and not in the implementation of the pain itself. Of course, this led to some steamy sex scenes, but it is the love that develops between the two men that is so powerful.

I thoroughly enjoyed In Distress and was quite sad to get to the end. Ms. Faron has created a wonderful family unit in Malcolm’s compound that is set in the middle of an equally disturbing society. While this is a sci-fi romance, there is also a subplot that focuses on the caste system itself. There are hints throughout the story regarding the legitimacy of the system and as Will learns more about Malcolm’s business, it causes tension in their relationship and leads to an extremely heartbreaking scene. As the book progresses, many questions are answered but even more are raised. Needless to say I was quite excited when I got to the end of the book and learned that there would be a sequel. I loved that the author ended the book in such a way that it serves as a complete story, yet is open-ended enough to make a sequel plausible. And as I enjoyed spending time with Malcolm, Will and the boys, I’m excited at the prospect of In Pain and look forward to unraveling the mysteries and secrets behind the class system that defines their world.

I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!

Check out the In Distress Tour Stop! blog post on Crystal's Many Reviewers.

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