Redemption by Olivia Duncan Craig
Author: Olivia Duncan Craig
Published: ODC Press (self-published) July 1, 2012
Rating: B list
Blurb: It’s a different world. Space has been colonized, the wealthy fly to work rather than drive, and slavery is legal.
Jason’s family has been ripped apart by tragedy. The only way he can save the ones left is to offer himself up as a bondmate. The more he’s willing to give, the higher the price he can command. And Jason is willing to give a lot.
Devin is wealthy and heartbroken after the wife he adored walked out on him. He isn’t looking for love. All he wants is a relationship he can control. Buying a bondmate seems like the perfect solution.
Yet when he purchases Jason’s contract, Devin gets more than he bargained for.
I’m a sucker for world-building. From the moment I picked up The Hobbit, and Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, I’ve loved being completely taken off Earth and into realms unknown, so the premise of this story grabbed me immediately.
From the opening scene, the emotional nuance of this tale got its hooks into me and would not let go. How does one own another person, consider them an investment, and still treat them as a human being with preferences and opinions?
Devin, rich heir to a mining company in the vastness of space, finds himself in that very position after the complications of saving a doomed marriage. On the one hand, owning a bondmate simplifies his life. Not only would he have a companion without all the fuss of romance, but he’ll have an assistant on whom he can count to bolster his demanding career, someone who won’t find another job or move to another town or, like his last PA, have a baby and decide to be a stay-at-home-mom. That his new assistant will also sometimes share his bed? Well, that’s a bonus.
But he never expected Jason, an honorable man who agrees to the contract with eyes open and insists he can handle it. Jason proves quickly he’s a good companion, a quick learner, and fantastic in bed. Devin’s hit the jackpot, but he never expects the jackpot to hit him back. In love with his bondmate? That’s the stuff of fairytales. Bondmates are employees, companions, investments. Not lovers, friends, lifemates. Right?
Jason’s compassionate, caring, and impossible not to develop feelings for, but he has a secret. Devin is torn between giving Jason the privacy a human being deserves and digging for information on his very expensive investment. How much is he entitled to since signing on the dotted line?
Jason, to his credit, walks the fine line of truth, not once misrepresenting himself while still maintaining his integrity. “You signed a contract to own me, but you don’t have the right to own my past, or my family.” I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of Jason’s closing the subject. He’s risked everything, including his freedom, to see his family to safety and he’ll be damned if his burgeoning feelings for his contract-holder are going to cloud what he’s worked so hard to protect.
The give and take in this story is compelling, believable, and just what you’d expect of two men drawn together under specific terms only to find that those terms limit what could be so much more. Devin’s kindness gets under Jason’s skin and try as he might, Jason can’t relegate him to contract-holder and employer. Devin’s a friend and perhaps most dangerous of all, someone Jason comes to love.
Unfortunately, Jason’s plan to disappear into the life of a bondmate after his family is safely off-world isn’t enough, and Jason’s past becomes Devin’s problem, putting them both in danger. Truthfully, even without the intrigue and danger, this story would have been a solid, fascinating read. The world Craig builds is complete, detailed, and entirely absorbing, and the struggles between the two main characters are full of unresolved sexual tension—my favorite kind. The author handled their confusing, fluctuating feelings with depth. I cared what happened to Jason, and Devin endeared himself to me by not treating Jason as property (except when he had his head buried in his own ass, and what guy hasn’t done that a time or fifteen?), even going so far as to stand up to his powerful, tycoon father on Jason’s behalf.
The only reason I’m not putting this on the A List is because there were a handful of times throughout the story that editing missed something. Not enough that I couldn’t overlook it, but it wasn’t as streamlined as it could have been. However, in looking up information about this author, I see that she’s just starting out. This is her first title, self-published only six weeks ago, and she already has another release (which I bought. I couldn’t help myself). I see the potential for a fantastic storyteller and I’m confident that over time, these minor niggles will improve. Plot and characterization were spot on, and those little grammatical oopsies weren’t significant or frequent enough to frustrate.
This falls between A and B List. Does that mean it’s the lovechild of Marilyn and Cher? Wouldn’t that be a hoot!