Thursday, September 18, 2014

Counterpunch by Aleksandr Voinov

Title: Counterpunch
Author: Aleksandr Voinov
My Rating: A

Genre: Alternate Universe (m/m)
Series: Belonging #2
Main Characters: Brooklyn and Nathaniel
Release Date: September 2014
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: erotic 

Story Overview:
Fight like a man, or die like a slave.

Brooklyn Marshall used to be a policeman in London, with a wife and a promising future ahead of him. Then he accidentally killed a rioter whose father was a Member of Parliament and had him convicted of murder. To ease the burden on the overcrowded prison system, Brooklyn was sold into slavery rather than incarcerated. Now, he's the "Mean Machine", a boxer on the slave prizefighting circuit, pummelling other slaves for the entertainment of freemen and being rented out for the sexual service of his wealthier fans.

When Nathaniel Bishop purchases Brooklyn's services for a night, it seems like any other assignation. But the pair form an unexpected bond that grows into something more. Brooklyn hesitates to call it "love"—such things do not exist between freemen and slaves—but when Nathaniel reveals that he wants to help get Brooklyn's conviction overturned, he dares to hope. Then, an accident in the ring sends Brooklyn on the run, jeopardizing everything he has worked so hard to achieve and sending him into the most important fight of all—the fight for freedom.

My Review:
This is the second book in the Belonging Alternate Universe. After reading the first book, Anchored, last week, I was a little leery about reading this one. Anchored was very violent and this one is set with the same slavery issues, but in the boxing it stood to reason that it could be worse and I just wasn't sure if I was up for that much mental battering on the cusp of the last. (Although it should be noted that I absolutely loved the first book, but it just wears on me mentally after too much.) Thankfully, this one isn't quite as bad as Anchored. The same violence occurs, but most of the really bad stuff happens off the page. Brooklyn is also a really strong character and he handles that violence better mentally.

This book comes from a very different place in this world where slavery is still the norm. Brooklyn was not born into slavery like most, so he isn't as mentally trained to submit as most. He was a cop before, but he made a mistake and a girl died. Instead of prison, they enslaved him. Before he had also been an amateur fighter. Now his owners use him as a professional fighter...and also pimp him out after fights. He's come to view his body as a tool...totally in every way possible.

Nathaniel is seemingly the perfect guy. He rented Brooklyn one night after one of his fights. Nathaniel doesn't make Brooklyn do anything he doesn't want to do, he's well-off, and thinks that as a barrister that he can get the judgement against Brooklyn reversed. But it quickly becomes apparent that Nathaniel may not be all that he seems. 

I did really enjoy this book. No matter how much guilt and rage he feels, Brooklyn didn't deserve the punishment he received. I can't imagine losing all that he did. He was married and his wife annulled their marriage and then he became simply a tool to make money for others. He was so hurt by his wife's actions, he's learned not to trust anyone...which makes the whole of the events in this book so much more heartbreaking. I wanted to just cry for Brooklyn, but he is so incredibly strong in the face of all those obstacles. He stays strong and never gives up on his will to continue fighting. I can't imagine that. 

And the book couldn't have ended any better. There's a twist at the end that I so did not see any way, shape, or form. But was so perfect and made me so happy for the future for Brooklyn. The book ended on such a hopeful note...I loved that about it. This is not a good world, but I was happy that Brooklyn found a piece of happiness in it.

I hope there is more to come in this universe. I've thoroughly enjoyed both of these books that have come out so far in the series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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