- Branded by Clare London
Branded by Clare LondonHot
In Aza, where a soldier’s only lawful devotion is to the City and his Mistress’s pleasure, the disgraced Maen is placed under the watchful guard of the arrogant Gold Warrior Zander and relegated to preparing a Royal History for the new Queen. But his discoveries cast a new and shocking light on the past and threaten to stir revolution in both citizens and rebels. With the help of the lively and inquisitive scribe Kiel, Maen initiates a chain of events that will change their world forever—and offer him the chance to regain both his honor and his heart’s desire.
1st Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, 2010.
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
Here's the run down of how the world works. You need to know this, because I'll be using terms in my review that you won't understand otherwise:
the Mistresses have designed. It's called 'Devotions', that the men take to protect them from the 'disease' they were born with. The medication makes them stay younger longer, live longer, maintains their sexual appetite and keeps them compliant. This is important for a reason.
Next, we have the soldiers:
Bronzemen : these are the lowest level of soldier. They're called 'children' in the novel (which slightly disturbs me) but we're never really told how old they are. I hope, and presume, they're at least 16, if not 18. They're taken from the Central School (where all children are placed after birth to be taught and raised) and to a 'Choosing', similar to an auction. The boys are presented to the Mistresses for inspection and they bid for the boys they prefer, who will then enter their Household. They learn from the Gold Warrior and Silver Guards, how to train, how to be a real soldier and within the first two weeks, are introduced to the Mistresses bed. They are to remain untouched by all but the Mistress and the Ladies, who teach them the
ways of the bed.
Last, we have the Exiles. As the world implies, these are people who have proven useless to the city or committed a crime. They've been exiled to the harshest part of their planet, where they're expected not to live long. Without the medication of their Devotions, they're expected to die within a few years, because of the sickness men are born with. However, the Exiles run skirmishes in the city, stealing food and other items and trying to get into the heart of the city. These are the most important of the characters, as they are the ones who will make the biggest difference to the main characters.
mentioned for the first half of the book. After that, there's extensive M/F explicit sexual scenes and much, much fewer M/M scenes. The main character Maen, for example, has more sex with his 'Mistresses' throughout the book than he's had with any of the men he tangles with. I've taken a star off, for this. In an M/M romance novel, even a fantasy once, there should never be more M/F sex than M/M.
The ending was a little unsatisfying. I would have loved an Epilogue, of any length, just to offer a more complete ending. It was a little sudden and left so much unknown. Unless there's another book, this is disappointing. I'd normally knock another star off for this, but I'm too enamoured by the overall story to do that.
I absolutely love Maen and his dogged single-mindedness. He's a strong character, but mentally weak. He's been on the Devotions so long that it's as though he's been brainwashed. The way he interacts with Grien, who I also adore, is wonderful. The hesitation, the uncertainty and the chemistry they have is brilliant. Part of me totally ships them, but the other part totally ships Maen and Dax.
Dax is a free spirit, wild and wonderful. When he confesses to not taking his Devotions religiously, it makes perfect sense of his erratic behaviour and his doubts about how the world works. I love the way that he starts to open Maen's eyes to the truth. As a Remainder child, he's the exception to every rule about the people that Maen has been taught, which, I think is what puts him such a unique position, to teach Maen what the world should be like, rather than how it is.
seriousness of the rest of the story. His hesitant chemistry with Zander, the new-Maen, loyal soldier, was incredible and so well written.
The book was a little long. Okay, a lot long. The book is 400+ pages and it felt it. It took me two days to read it, non stop, and there were times when I wondered what else would happen, to drag the story out. I don't mean that in a bad way, because A LOT happened in the book that made sense and was important. It just felt looooong.
Overall, a fantastic – if, exhausting – read. I'd read it again. I'd read anything by this author again, no questions asked. And I'd read more of this world and these characters in a heartbeat.
“I wanted to be somewhere else; I wanted to be away from here. I wanted to be dead too.”
“What will you be, Maen?
I will be lost, I thought to myself, close to collapse, my mouth trapping desperate wails of horror and pain inside me. I will be bereft.”