I'm honored to be hosting the talented Rachel Haimowitz today with her installment in the Belonging 'Verse, Anchored. Keep reading to learn about this book, the series, and my impressions of this release too. Next week we'll get an in-depth look into the other book in this series, Counterpunch by Aleksandr Voinov. Until then, make sure to leave a comment about why you love reading the m/m genre for the chance to win a $25 Riptide Publishing GC! And now, let's dive right into this dark world......
Welcome to the Belonging ’Verse re-release blog tour with Aleksandr Voinov and Rachel Haimowitz! We’re very excited to be bringing you edited second editions of our Belonging stories, Anchored and Counterp
We’ll be touring for about two weeks, Aleks discussing his slave boxer and the barrister who tries to free him, and Rachel talking about her slave news anchor and the talk show host who covets him, and both of us discussing the world of Belonging at large—which, as you’ve probably guessed, is not a particularly pretty place. But good things can and do happen in this world, and we hope you’ll stick with us to find out what!
Speaking of good things, don’t forget to comment on this post for your chance to win a $25 gift certificate to the Riptide store! Each new post you comment on earns you an entry into the drawing, so be sure to check out the rest of the tour schedule too!
It can be both terrifying and exhilarating when you discover you’re getting your rights back to something you published a long time ago. Terrifying because you’re left wondering what to donow—do I self-publish, can I find another publisher to take a reprint, do I take it out back and bury it, never to be seen again?—and exhilarating because it gives you the opportunity to breathe new life into an old project.
Even more exciting, it gives you the opportunity to right a lot of wrongs and fix a lot of problems with the manuscript in question . . . which, mind you, is not always an opportunity you take, because sometimes looking back and spending energy on old projects just isn’t the right choice for your creativity or limited time, and sometimes you or your fans or both are very attached to the book as it is, and even though you see the problems, you just don’t have the heart to change things.
But with Anchored, I was chomping at the bit to revise. Taking it out of print for a year was a small price to pay for the privilege of a brilliant editor (thank you, Sarah Frantz!) pointing out the flaws and helping me to fix them.
See, Anchored was one of those novels that never should have been published in the first place. It was only the second book I’d ever published, and I was young(er) and inexperienced and too excited about the book having been accepted (and too nervous about it being dumped) to question things very closely—including some really awful editing decisions, one of which was the insistence by my editor at the time that I give the book a typical romance HEA. In slave fiction. Between a slave and his master. (I talk a lot more about the problems with that in the blog post Love and Power.)
But getting the rights back and then signing them over to Riptide meant I’d be getting a second chance to right the wrongs in this story, to do it the justice I wasn’t a strong enough writer to give it the first time around. Having Sarah Frantz in my corner was a tremendously important part of that process, too. She was eager to see me apply the original concept for the ending (and also the original concept for the beginning, which my first editor at the old house made me cut), and also made sure I address critical components of the worldbuilding and character motivations that had previously fallen by the wayside: Race, for one, which really how I managed not to talk about the first time in a book on modern slavery I’ll never know. More of both main characters’ upbringings. Why Carl wanted Daniel. Why Daniel was so afraid. And on and on and on. Not to mention the opportunity to simply polish up the prose itself with all that I’ve learned in the four years since I wrote Anchored.
Ultimately, this incarnation of Anchored is over ten thousand words longer than the first edition, and probably contains about fifteen thousand new words in total, considering how many of the original words got discarded and replaced with more interesting things. It’s a drastically different story, and—I think—a drastically better one. If you read and enjoyed the old version, I think you’ll be very pleased with the new one. It’s one I’m truly proud of now, and for that, I really have Sarah to thank.
HERE ARE THE BOOKS IN THIS SERIES:
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 that’s owned him since childhood, decides to lease him privately on evenings and weekends to boost their flagging profits.
Daniel’s not stupid; he knows there’s only one reason someone would pay so much for what little free time he has. But dark memories of past sexual service leave him certain he won’t survive it again with his sanity intact.
He finds himself in the home of Carl Whitman, a talk show host whose words fail him when it comes to ordering Daniel into his bed. Carl can’t seem to take what he must want, and Daniel’s not willing to give it freely. His recalcitrance costs him dearly, but with patience and some hard-won understanding, affection just might flourish over fear and pain. Carl holds the power to be an anchor in Daniel’s turbulent life, but if he isn’t careful, he’ll end up the weight that sinks his slave for good.
Rachel Haimowitz is an M/M erotic romance author and the Publisher of Riptide Publishing. She's also a sadist with a pesky conscience, shamelessly silly, and quite proudly pervish. Fortunately, all those things make writing a lot more fun for her . . . if not so much for her characters.
When she's not writing about hot guys getting it on (or just plain getting it; her characters rarely escape a story unscathed), she loves to read, hike, camp, sing, perform in community theater, and glue captions to cats. She also has a particular fondness for her very needy dog, her even needier cat, and shouting at kids to get off her lawn. You can connect with Rachel at: Website: rachelhaimowitz.com, Tumblr: rachelhaimowitz.tumblr.com, Twitter: @RachelHaimowitz, Goodreads: goodreads.com/metarachel, Email: rachel@
MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
In this engaging book that's the first in a series set in an alternate universe readers are put through the emotional wringer witnessing a society where slavery exists which brings out the worst in humanity. The main character of Daniel has known nothing of life but oppression and abuse, both physical and sexual. He's taught that he's inhuman with no feelings or intelligence, more useless than an animal. He's also handsome which makes his life even more difficult. The heinous acts done to him have led him to distrust everyone, to doubt that there's any kindness in the world. One day his life takes a dramatic turn when he's bought to be a television anchor and though his treatment is improved his being a valuable commodity soon puts him in a precarious position when their station's rival buys his evenings for a whole year. Daniel is constantly on edge waiting to be hurt which causes friction at his job as his bosses want to make sure he earns the money paid for him. I was pulled into Daniel's head throughout the story and ached for all he went through. He truly hated himself at times because that's what he was taught. His pain was my pain and it broke my heart witnessing the depravities people are capable of. The time he spends with Carl opens their eyes to both the reality of the world and the existance of a few decent people and leads to both heartbreak and heartwarming moments for readers.
Carl is a freeman whose life has been dramatically different from Daniel's but who is drawn to the young man and learns some harsh realities through his eyes. Carl is a kindhearted man who owns two slaves who he treats like family and seems naive to the realities of slavery. He takes his time getting to know Daniel, starting off as a friend than lover, which keeps Daniel on edge waiting for the pain to come. As Daniel opens up Carl is shocked by the abuse he has suffered and it's a disillusioning and defining moment for him that leads him on a new path. Though I never felt as deeply connected to Carl I appreciated the moments of peace and safety he gave Daniel, the sense of family he brought to assuage Daniel's loneliness.
The world depicted in this tale demonstrates quite brutally the haves and the have nots. It's a dark world behind all the glitter teeming with sadness and oppression. The brutality is difficult to read at times but makes the sweet and supportive connection between Carl and Daniel all the richer. This is a thoughtprovoking premise that easily immerses you in it's storytelling through its vivid depictions and engaging characters. Ms Haimowitz pulls no punches as she drags readers along on this compelling journey that has me greatly anticipating the next book in the series.
My rating for this is an A-
*I got this book from the publisher for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
Fight like a man, or die like a slave.
Two years ago, Brooklyn Marshall was a happily married London policeman and amateur boxer with a promising future. Then he accidentally killed a rioter whose powerful father had him convicted of murder. To ease the burden on the prison system, the state sold Brooklyn into slavery. Now he’s the “Mean Machine,” competing on the slave prizefighting circuit for the entertainment of freemen, and being rented out for sexual service to his wealthier fans.
When barrister Nathaniel Bishop purchases Brooklyn’s services for a night, Brooklyn braces himself for yet another round of humiliation and pain. But the pair form an unexpected bond that grows into something more. Brooklyn hesitates to call it love—such feelings can’t truly exist between freemen and slaves—but when Nathaniel reveals that he wants to get Brooklyn’s conviction overturned, Brooklyn dares to hope.
Until an accident in the ring sends Brooklyn on the run, jeopardizing everything he’s worked so hard for. With the law on his tail and Nathaniel in his corner, he must prepare for the most important fight of his life: the fight for his freedom.
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