(Read for the DMC book challenge)
I don’t know how to categorize this. For me it’s not a romance, nor erotica, nor strictly PWP. It is a nightmare so I guess I’d label it as contemporary horror.
The premise is interesting. A family of social anthropologists venture into a remote area of the Middle East (near Iraq but not specified) to study a modern-day indigenous tribe that adheres to an archaic form of ritual sacrifice. The family gets swept into this ritual where they become sexually enslaved to the tribe chief’s family. Relentless torture, abuse, rape and humiliation ensues and endures for more than a year with the 19 year old son, Chris, suffering the worst of it.
This was just an ok read for me. The world building was passable with its description of the tribe, its history and the central ritual that fuels the action. But things are mostly sketched out with a lot of telling as opposed to showing and the characters were mostly caricatures without much depth or sympathy. Mostly we get to know Chris as much of the emphasis is on the systematic torture and rape used to break his will. He is being trained to carry a grown man on his back as a type of ‘pony slave’. Homosexuality seems to be widely accepted in this tribe as all his enthusiastic abusers are male. Chris consistently finds himself developing feelings for his more kindly captors, and in the end we’re left with him, a seeming victim to Stockholm Syndrome and with no real counseling or attention paid to the torture he has endured. Well, the answer for him seems to be succumbing to a BDSM lifestyle where he will need extreme domination to feel safe. In fact, he has a hard time seeing himself as gay, but decides, oh well, I need sex with men now, so I’m gay. This sexual indoctrination’ doesn’t work for me because we’ve had no clue before the abuse that Chris identified as gay. Though some might see the ending as an HEA, I can’t accept what becomes of Chris because he is still a victim his nightmare and this story really hasn’t done him much justice.