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Mostly Cross Posts from my blog, Readings From the Dark Side

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Trade - meus_venator (Sort of Spoilerish)

Very well done--the level of writing was great by any standard and for a free fan/fic it was extraordinary. This is definitely a dark read, for those who can tolerate strong non-con, D/s, and slave situations. I found the opening chapters extremely hot, fairly hard core but not unbearable. When the scene moves to the Vixen Club, however, matters become much harder going, depressing and frightening. I was deeply impressed by the author's portrait of exploitation. A lot of romance novels try to portray abusive situations, and too often I find them manipulative or over-the-top, piling on the sorrows to either make us feel sorry for one of the heroes or justify their otherwise crappy behavior.

The picture here was sincerely harsh and disturbing, which is perhaps surprising since this is a fantasy setting and the author did not go crazy with pictures of punishments and torture. I've read worse--[b:Bloodraven|6617506|Bloodraven|P.L. Nunn|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1314887548s/6617506.jpg|6811618] to name one example was far grislier in my opinion. What made this a hard read was the author's ability to capture the sheer ugliness of the exploitation of a powerless group by a more powerful one--and the soul-crushing hopelessness of it when everything in society really is stacked against you, and even the "decent" and progressive members of the group in power can do little more than hem and haw and moan about how sad it is.

Needless to say, those parts were not in any way enjoyable to read, but I do think it's an important counter to the steamy, fantasy versions of exploitation and non-con that I and plenty of others consume. I have no problem with the fantasy version, and I'm willing to defend my enjoyment of it, but I am also grateful to the author here for creating such a very effective reminder of the hideous underside of what it can mean to really, truly be in another human being's power.

Bottom Line: I definitely recommend this, with the caveat that this pulls no punches in its depiction of abuse and slavery. Though not overly grisly, I found this a disturbing and at times depressing read.