Monday, May 23, 2016

Release Day Review: Kestrel’s Talon (The Stonewatchers #1) by Bey Deckard

Kestrels-Talon-KindleTitle ~ Kestrel’s Talon (The Stonewatchers #1)

Author ~ Bey Deckard

Published ~ 23 May 2016

Genre ~ Fantasy, M/M/M Romance

Rating

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Synopsis

Following the Prentish/Nemarri war, Kes is rejected by his homeland under the guise of religious purity laws. Though he's spared execution, the proud Nemarri's fate is only marginally more merciful than death when he is sold into sexual slavery at a prosperous pleasure house.
Despite his stoic endurance, Kes knows he’s reaching his breaking point, but there is nothing he can do—there is no path to freedom in the Holy Prentish Empire, only a lifetime of humiliating servitude.
That is, until a beautiful young slave and his formidable master approach Kes in the marketplace and make an astonishing offer to take him home with them. The only problem: “home” is the accursed Horthmont Castle from the scare-stories of Kes’s childhood.
Thrown into a world of living myth, powerful magic, and ancient gods, Kes learns the secrets kept hidden by Horthmont’s thick blackstone walls. There he discovers something he thought he’d never know again: hope for the future.

 Iro’s Review

I am a huge fantasy fan and despite having only read Bey Deckard's contemporary works (this is going to change ASAP!) I had my hopes up starting Kestrel's Talon. I wasn't disappointed! If you think that you know what to expect from a slave fic involving a triad like I did, you are in for a big surprise.

It's hard to talk about the plot beyond what is mentioned in the blurb without giving any spoilers. In fact, as a reader, I was ultimately glad the blurb gave so little away since it left me as much in the dark as Kestrel is about what's in store for him, helping me relate to him from the beginning. Being a slave in a foreign country Kes is painfully aware of his dire situation. He is stripped of everything that defined him and has suffered abuse and humiliation serving as a pleasure slave in a whore house. This nightmare seems to end when the imposing master of a graceful slave that had caught Kestrel's attention buys him on the spot to follow them home, but Kes refuses to hope there's a better future for him. No matter how better his living situation could become he would still be a slave.

There is nothing I like more in a story than being surprised in every turn. I was prepared to encounter some things that would make me uncomfortable, as it often happens when I read slave fic, but in Kestrel's Talon nothing is as it seems and that goes for the trope as well. There are D/s elements, a triad, an Ace character, a host of interesting and unconventional secondary characters and despite the book being heavy on the sex, I had a hard time labeling even a single of those scenes as gratuitous. There is some talk of abuse that has happened in the past, and some dreams of traumatic situations but everything is relevant to the story and not there just for shock value. Actually, the feelings that grow among the main characters and their effort to make it work for the three of them while getting over their individual emotional struggles are the main focus for the largest part of the story. So, be prepared for a few heartbreaking moments, a bit of angst and some really sweet interactions. Also, for one of the characters to steal your heart and never give it back. I love him to death and I was impatient with any chapters he wasn't present in!

The world-building is interesting and fairly easy to grasp and most importantly any details and rules aren't explained to death throughout the book but instead woven discreetly into the dialogue when and where needed. Almost the entirety of the story takes place within the walls of an ancient castle that has inspired scary tales among the common-folks. The setting adds to the mysterious atmosphere but it is also essential to a certain plot line. Magic is more than a fairytale prop in this world and even the ruler of the Holy Prentish Empire uses gifted people for his own purposes. As the plot evolves ancient gods and unknown powers come to play in ways that Kestrel and the other characters hadn't expected.

I love Bey Deckard's writing; it is gritty and unassuming, but there were a few instances where the wording was too contemporary for my taste. I also have an issue with sword/scabbard euphemisms, no matter how often they are used in erotic fantasy I can't get used to it! A conveniently swift resolution to one of the big problems for the MCs had me squinting suspiciously at my page but other than that my only complaint is that I wanted more! From the unconventional triad, the fascinating -whether likable or repellent- second characters and the refreshing non-token depiction of women to the painful journey from despair to hope, this was a brilliant read and I wholeheartedly enjoyed it.

Kestrel's Talon was riveting, sexy, and surprisingly tender at times. It's a very good thing that this book is the first in a series, not only because it feels there's a whole lot of this story to be told but mainly because the main characters are great and lovable and I want to see so much more of them.

It was a brilliant story and I can't wait to see what the author has planned for those amazing guys in the next installment!

 

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Meet Bey Deckard

Artist, Writer, Dog Lover.

Born and raised in a small coastal town in northern Québec, Bey spent his early summers on his uncle’s boat and running wild on the beaches of the surrounding islands, lighting fires and building huts out of driftwood and fishermen’s nets. As an adult, he eventually made his way to university and earned a degree in Art History with a strong focus on Anthropology. Primarily a portrait painter and graphic artist, Bey sat down one day and decided to write about the two things that he felt most passionate about: sex and the sea. Bey currently lives in the wilds of Montréal with his best buddy, a spotty pit bull named Murphy.

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