Now if you expect the usual Master and slave story, with Kael being a little and pretty man and Taren the strong and rude warrior who will master him, then you are prime for a surprise. The first description you have of Taren is “The warlord was half a hand span below average in height and lacked the heavy muscles of a man used to swinging a broadsword”, so not exactly an intimidating character; moreover later in the novel the reader will receive other details that will help him to imagine Taren as the pretty man you were expecting to be Kael.
And Kael? He is the captain of the roya guard, he is skilled with the sword and an expert in tactics, but sincerely, from here and there, I had of him an idea of a man who was not happy with his role, who would have preferred to be a scholar, to work more with his mind than his body, and above all, he seemed to me a bit too much fussy; indead he was perfect for the role of a princeling, because it was clear that he was used to be served, even if he had a coscience that sometime made him wonder if it was right for him to be so privileged. But the thought was passing and soon forgotten.
Another point that allowed Kael to be able to adapt to the turn from warrior to concubine, is that he had already had gay “curiosity”; in the society in where Kael was living, homosexuality is not illegal but neither fully accepted, gay men are still ostracized even if they were not forbidden to follow their feelings. But for a princeling, for a warrior, it was not allowed, he has responsibilities and duties; responsabilities and duties that his father conveniently forgets when he decides to “gift” Kael as a concubine to a man, well knowing his fate.
In a way I think Kael was grateful for the escape he was given: he can now fully explore man to man sex with the solace that he is “obliged” that is not really his choice; more he is doing the “honorable” thing, obeying his father’s command. It was quite funny when they tried to “rescue” him, and he was like “let me go, let me go, I have to sacrifice myself… having satisfying sex with my captor!”
And with that I introduced the sex factor: the story is very much centered on the debauching of Kael (that as I said is not so much against the idea); more than a warrior society, Kael seems to have moved in a free sex community; no one is questioning his role as concubine, the only problem they have, apparently, is that he is enjoying too much being one, and in his enthusiasm, he is making look bad the real “professionals” of the concubine guild.
Concubine is more light than what I was expecting, as usual I have always the feeling that the fantasy setting has to be for an “heavy” story, but this is not the case.
Amazon Kindle: Concubine
Cover Art by Christine Clavel