Anchored: Belonging Book 1


Title: Anchored: Belonging book 1
Author: Rachel Haimowitz
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: M/M fantasy BDSM romance
Length: Novel
Rating: 5 stars out of 5


A guest review by Jenre

Summary Review
Fantastic, gripping and emotionally compelling story set in an AU where slavery is the norm.

THE BLURB

Network news anchor Daniel Halstrom is at the top of his field, but being at the bottom of the social ladder—being a slave—makes that hard to enjoy. Especially when NewWorld Media, the company who’s owned him since childhood, decides to lease him on evenings and weekends to boost their flagging profits.

Daniel’s not stupid; he knows there’s only one reason a man would pay so much for what little free time he has, and it’s got nothing to do with his knowledge of current events. But he’s never been made to serve like that before, and he fears he won’t survive the experience with his sanity intact.

He finds himself in the home of Carl Whitman, a talk show host whose words fail him time and again when it comes to ordering Daniel to bed. Daniel knows what Carl wants, but it seems as if Carl isn’t willing to take it, and Daniel’s not willing to give it freely. His recalcitrance costs him dearly, but with patience and some hard-won understanding, love just might flourish where once there’d been only fear and pain. Can Carl become the anchor in Daniel’s turbulent life, or will he end up the weight that sinks his slave for good?

(WARNING: This book contains potentially triggering subject matter, including a violent on-screen rape. Please take heed.)

THE REVIEW

This book has only been out a short while but has already caused quite a lot of contention amongst readers. It seems to be one of those books which you either love or hate – and not just for the graphic violence or the rape scene. I am firmly in the ‘loved it’ camp, but I do suggest that you read a few more reviews before buying as there are many very valid points made by other reviewers who didn’t like the book as much as me.

The story is set in an alternative universe which is almost the same as the world we know except for one key factor: slavery. People can be bought and sold like cattle and forced to be subject to the will of their owners. It’s a chilling premise and one which made me feel very uncomfortable at times. The plot follows slave Daniel who is owned by a media company and is a successful anchorman for their news programme. When the company start to fall on hard times they ‘rent’ Daniel out as a companion to a competitor for a large sum of money. Daniel is terrified of intimacy with Carl, which leads to repercussions for both men.

The narrative is in the first person from Daniel’s point of view, something which works well as we get his views as a slave and the mindset that has been drilled into him from an early age, leading to a realistic and believable setting. In a way, Daniel has been very sheltered as a slave, and so when he is leased to Carl, it comes as a shock to him. It’s also ironic that his own misery and self-interest were the main reasons why he suffers later and this, more than anything in the story, made me want to shake him and show him how foolish he was being. As with many first person narratives, the other hero, Carl, is a little bit of an enigma. Daniel lives in fear of Carl and the intimacies for which Carl has leased him, but Carl isn’t actually all that harsh and scary as a master. His reasons for renting Daniel are to assuage his loneliness both in and out of bed and I sympathised with Carl’s frustrations that Daniel seemed completely different to his TV persona – and also that he wasn’t getting what he’s paying for. Again it is ironic that Carl’s selflessness and inability to force Daniel into doing what he wants is what ultimately leads to Daniel’s downfall. Neither men are wholly happy with the master/slave relationship and it is this breaking away of societal expectations which forces an event which eventually brings them together but not without a great deal of suffering first.

Be warned there are scenes of rape and extreme torture and punishment which may not be to some readers’ taste. I read those scenes absolutely horrified as to what was happening but also unable to stop reading as Daniel’s voice pulled me into the scene and made it impossible to put the book down. It’s not easy to read such scenes, but the violence was necessary and not gratuitous.

My only niggle about the book was the way the timing of the book changes towards the end. Most of the book takes place over a few days, then, after the climax, the story suddenly accelerates through a few weeks. This left me with a number of questions about some of the circumstances prior to the end which were glossed over a little and it also seems that the romance aspect is sudden – it isn’t, because it takes place over a few weeks but because those weeks are covered in only a few pages, it seems like it is. However, this niggle wasn’t enough to spoil my enjoyment of what was an engrossing and compelling story for me.

Overall, if you like BDSM, especially the master/slave dynamic then this book is a must. It’s been a while since I was wholly immersed in a book and so connected with a character and situation. I shall be seeking out the author’s other books very soon.

41 comments

  • I was so disappointed by this book.

    It seemed Carl was trying, but to me he came across as a petulant adolescent running to mummy when his new toy doesn’t work as expected, and then being totally devastated when she breaks his new toy …
    And when have tv personalities and private personalities ever been the same? *rolls eyes*
    It is hard for me to believe that the Carl who saved his other slaves, could go so wrong with Daniel. A truly good master would have done his homework!!

    But my biggest problem was that hosting a news show, or whatever his job description was, does NOT equal pleasure slave. Yes, he did as he was told or was punishment, but unless I missed something, Daniel was never asked to perform sexual acts before being rented out. It is his task to do as he is told, but it’s the OWNERS’ responsibility to educate their slave so they know what is expected of them, BEFORE they rent him out, instead of after he is found lacking by Carl …

    And then the ending, to unbelievable, too abrupt. It left me completely dissatisfied.
    To me all this book seemed to say was that a broken Daniel ‘being lovingly cared for’ by his new master was a much happier Daniel … *shakes head* another Stockholm syndrome variation
    How could anyone believe that?

    As for romance? It never even came close.

    The writing was great, the premise promising, but the execution was just not up to scratch.

    side note: Am I the only one who thinks that slave stories are not the same thing as bdsm stories?

    Reply
  • This book pissed me off to no end. Gah. I get your review and I understand why you liked it. I understand right up till the too graphic rape scene that seemed to be the who focus of the story. After that the story stopped making sense. I could have lived with the rape scene if the story after what believable. But all of sudden Daniel does enjoy gay sex? Suddenly we’re few weeks past and everything is right in the world.

    Perhaps the thing that bugged me most was the lack of revenge. I’m a revenge person. I would have so cut off a dick or two and made them eat it. Gah. Did I mention I hate rape scenes?

    Sorry, I just had to get this of my chest!

    Reply
  • Just finished this story and normally I would have never picked this book up, but Ethan recommended it to me. Now that I have I thought it was an excellent story, it hooked me in and I just couldn’t put it down. OH yes there were dark parts, and I so wanted to jump in the book and kick Mr. Foster’s ass. I will remember this book cause it had ME so emotional (good thing), I am ready for the next!

    Reply
  • I felt the romance of the story was in Carl, who was probably already a little in love with Daniel before the story began. Yes, he wanted him sexually but he also wanted a friend and companion – the fact that he had to buy that says something about desperate and lonely Carl was. He was kind and gentle with Daniel only getting frustrated after a while. He did not rape Daniel but he did have to pick up the pieces afterwards. You may see that exploitative on the part of Carl, and maybe it was, but it was also done out of love. There is the romance for me. The fact that Daniel is not in love with Carl by the end is a little worrying but Daniel is content and at peace with his situation and I think the author is going to write a stronger happy ending for the pair in the sequel.

    Reply
    • I never really felt there was a true romance story. To me Carl was infatuated with the idea of a person he has seen on tv. He acts on it, buying that person. Then things don’t go the way he planned, this tv person turns out to be a real person, with his own feelings and fears. This is not love in any way, it’s a spoiled person playing with other peoples lives.

      I guess Carl is a bit let down by the fact that it didn’t turn out the way he planned in his fantasy world and as a result Daniel is disciplined?

      The result of this shocks Carl to the core but again to me he was the cause of it. And then he decided to nurse Daniel back by giving him blowjobs (not respecting the no he got from Daniel before the rape)?

      Carl is NOT a nice guy to me.

      And you never really get the feeling that Daniel is in love either. He is just broken and takes affection where he can get it.

      Reply
      • Ok so I finished this one and there will be SPOILERS in my comment, but there were spoilers in the comments already, so I do not think it matters and review warns about spoilers, but SPOILERS anyway.

        Oh and I am sorry for ranting tone, it is specifically directed at the character and not at anybody else, its just if I get annoyed at the character, I can get REALLY annoyed at the character. 🙂

        I do not regret reading the book, since I really liked Daniel but I really disliked Carl. Usually I avoid like plague the books where victim falls for his rapist so as I you can see I made sure to find out that this does not happen in this book. So I was not bothered by abuse poor Daniel and other slaves go through, I mean I did not enjoy reading about it, but I accepted it as necessary for the story. But Carl bugged the crap out of me. As far as I am concerned while he did not rape Daniel he is at least a very willing accomplice OR monumentally stupid person.

        I mean, seriously he saw Daniel coming to him beaten so badly after such silly misstep at work, so what the heck did he think would happen when he would send Daniel back??? He would think they would pat their property on the back for not fulfilling the obligations? Right.

        And as others remarked I did not like Carl’s behavior after Daniel was raped . Because sure Carl, that’s how you made the person who was just gang raped to “forget their pain”.
        Oh also as much as I liked Daniel and his spirit, he was a slave from childhood, how exactly he managed to keep such pride that he felt it is okay to deny his master sexual pleasure??? I mean I liked his spirit, do not get me wrong, but to me this was very inconsistent with who he is. I would think that by now any real slave would have known to obey the master without any hesitation. I mean, I know that he was worried that he would get punished but my point is that the fact that he even *entertained* the idea and actually acting according to it that he can deny his master anything, especially something which he realizes he was bought for was just wierd to me.

        It felt as if author switches Daniel’s character depending on what needs of the plot he would fulfill, if that makes sense.

        For us to be able to emotionally connect to him, he needs to be spirited, but in the world she portrays where he is a slave from the childhood and given 80! lashes for that silliness at work, I do not think it would enter his mind to disobey his master, period. IMO of course.

        And I also want to know more about this world, as somebody remarked, want to know what made slavery acceptable in the reality which seems our reality only with addition of slavery.

        Thanks for listening 🙂

        Reply
        • Thanks for listening

          No problem Sirius. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a mixed reaction to a five star review before :). It’s been interesting to see how much this book has affected people in both a positive and negative way.

          Reply
          • I definitely think that this is a memorable book no matter whether it affected readers in a negative a positive way, because as you said a lot of books we forget (if we read a lot and while I am sure I have not read nearly as many as you guys do for reviewing purposes, I still have read a lot of them) and this one I do not think I will be able to forget any time soon myself.

            Reply
  • I was discussing this on Goodreads and felt I should put my feelings on this one here since I really do not want to do a review on my own website since I would just be repeating over again what I have stated on several recent reviews in my opinion…

    It’s not a Romance
    Because the writer waited to the very end of the story written in a whole other genre to smack in the romantic parts it was obvious and you even mentioned in your review how that part was written so different.

    It’s not Contemporary BDSM
    Which is what Noble Romance has this thing labeled as because that would have to have a “safe, sane, consensual” element front and center and this is a story about a “real slave” who has no free will so he cannot choose to leave. I would not call this BDSM because BDSM is not an endurance test.

    This is not even Erotica
    S/M Erotica even if it is written with a sadist POV and the slave simply being beaten and tortured and raped has usually some specified goal or pay off that it will progress towards this was simply all HURT the slave till he gets to see Carl for the COMFORT.

    Did anyone else get what I just pointed out there because it is key for this book?

    I figured out what this story reminded me of then I thought “news anchor” and “failing network” and suddenly at around 4 this morning it came to me…

    Anderson Cooper Hurt/Comfort Fan Fiction!

    Reply
    • this was simply all HURT the slave till he gets to see Carl for the COMFORT.

      This was upset me the most in the book, the part that reeks power techniques to me. Call a spade a spade!

      Reply
      • Hi Teddy pig

        I understand your views and feelings about the book but I did see the romance in it and felt that a romance label was correct. That doesn’t make your opinion any less valid, just that I feel differently to you. It just goes to show how subjective reviews are and how views on a book can vary depending on the person.

        I’ve not read any fan fic (except a bit of PL Nunn Clex slash), and especially the one you mention so I can’t comment on that, I’m afraid.

        Reply
        • I find it hard to see many reader’s negative reactions to highly elaborate rape and abuse glossed over as “subjective opinion” especially when there is plainly no label provided.

          Maybe I’m conservative like that.

          Reply
    • I’d have to agree with Teddypig on all counts. I don’t know the industry definition of a romance (or if there even is one), but I don’t consider this book a romance. There was certainly no wooing here. And there was never even a sense that Daniel might be into Carl if only it wasn’t an issue of not having a choice. I wish the author had dropped in some hints that Daniel found him attractive or was tempted to be intimate at all.

      I was absorbed by Daniel’s perspective, so in that sense I “enjoyed” the book. But I hope we see some romantic elements in the sequel. Although, as Teddypig points out, the damage has really already been done since Carl was made to seem like the lesser of two evils rather than a real love interest. The author will almost have to backtrack to show them genuinely coming together.

      Reply

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