Reviewed by Katinka C.
AUTHOR: Lisa Henry
PUBLISHER: Loose Id Publishing
LENGTH: 205 pages
BLURB: When the fearsome warlord Brasius chooses Kynon as his tribute, Kynon tells himself it’s the price of peace, and that he can endure anything. If his slavery will save his father’s kingdom, then he will be a slave and submit to every indignity the warlord and the senate of Segasa require of him. He can live with the shame; it’s the mind-blowing pleasure that frightens him.
But the warlord wants more than a tribute who will respond eagerly to whips and bondage. The warlord might just want the man underneath: the prince, the soldier and the tribute, if Kynon can figure out who that is. On an enforced journey of self-discovery, Kynon learns that being the warlord’s tribute isn’t just about submission. And, to be the tribute that Brasius wants him to be, Kynon will have to defy all the traditions of Segasa and risk the wrath of the senate that really holds his chains.
I was so thrilled to read Tribute! It fits perfectly into my master plan to..*cough*..‘professionalize’ my depravity. Since dating cruel bastards with little to none redeeming qualities would kind of interfere with this wholesome, little life I lead these days, I will just have to still my cravings through my reads. And what better book to choose then Tribute to do so? It has dub/non con, a bit of torture and a whole lot of humiliation, D/s and creepy, abusive fuckers in abundance. In short: all the sweet stuff.
You can read the blurb for yourself, so I’m going to skip summarizing the plot today. Although I recommend taking the warnings into account.If only because you won’t have to end up feeling obliged to 1 star this book for it not matching your expectations of beautiful submission and star-crossed lovers love. There’s nothing beautiful or swoon-worthy about Tribute. Not in the conventional sense anyway, ha! Harsh, porn-packed pain and humiliation and master/slave dynamics is what you get instead. It was cruel. And yet… not nearly as cruel as I had anticipated. Partly because the characters remained a little distant, I was never terrified. Narrator Prince Kynon didn’t crawl underneath my skin, thus ensuring that I was merely a spectator and didn’t have to join him on his sickening roller-coaster ride. I wasn’t sorry.
And this may sound weird, but Henry has such an entertaining writing style that I wanted to grab a bowl of popcorn and happily munch my way through another rape scene instead of gag and shudder. Imagine being able to write pulpy non con: that’s kind of special, right? Can’t say that I don’t love Henry’s blend of depraved and dirty, juicy fun in Tribute!
Not that I wasn’t disappointed on occasions. Warlord Brasius’ newly acquired virginal tributes (AKA war captives) were given a magical instant lust inducing potion that turned them into fuck toys. Ugh! I’ve always been one who likes the hunt better than the catch, so I was growling in disbelief when Brasius ‘introduced’ himself to Prince Kynon and Alysia (there’s some girly-bits, yes) in such a nonchalantly brutal and fast way. It was explicit. It was nasty. It was maybe a tiny winy bit hot? And it was over in the blink of an eye. Taking virgins who are writhing in lust without their consent …well… that’s quite a way to spin things! I think I would have appreciated a dash of forced seduction, perhaps a little unreleased sexual tension and overall more mind-fuckery.
Instalust potions: where’s the fun in that? 😀
Now Brasius. He should have done it for me. Instead, I ended up being vaguely dissatisfied with how he managed his business. His business being his tributes. Despite his power, good looks and other obvious..assets, he’s the kind of master I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy. The man’s a contradictory mess. Due to his role, it was expected of him to display his dominance over his captured enemies. And thus he cruelly humiliated Kynon left and right (not complaining about that, mind you! I’d say he did so rather unimaginatively, but effectively). Then he tenderly told the confused kid that he ‘wants all of him’? You don’t have to be a 19 year old Prince to slip into a nervous breakdown because of these mixed signals. Also, I had hoped that Brasius would be more demanding in an intellectual way. At some point it appeared as if he made an attempt, when he invited Kynon to play chess with him. But that scene, too, spiraled into straight-forward humiliation. But hey, at least you’ll get all the promised stuff!
If you decide to give Tribute a go, I’m curious to hear what you think about the romance aspect. I personally didn’t buy for a second that this was anything more than Stockholm Syndrome and whatever other labels apply. I got the impression that a mentally stable Kynon wouldn’t have swayed into that/those directions if he were given a choice. By now, it’s not a secret that I’m not a fan of HEA’s that seem misplaced. So I’m just going to be nice and pretend that this crazy conclusion didn’t happen to this book. Maybe I need to skip Henry’s final chapters from now on? Because, in the end, her entertaining writing style in combination with that kinky mind of hers really work for me! I’ll definitely auto-buy her work from now on.
Katinka C. is one of the official reviewers on The Blog of Sid Love.
To read all her reviews, click the link: KATINKA’S REVIEWS
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