On a lush, tropical island inhabited by rogues, thieves and villains, where men take the law into their own hands, a father and son are thrust into tumultuous events that will change their lives forever.
Bernardo de Rodrigo is proud of his son. Alonso is handsome and winning, and everyone he meets is instantly drawn to the tall, warm Spaniard. But how could either of them have known that a forbidden love is about to claim Alonso’s heart?
Arbol, the charismatic male slave who was saved from the clutches of Raul Ignacio Martín, feels an instant connection with Alonso, the moment he looks into Arbol’s eyes, the moment they touch.
Bernardo has other things to worry about, however. He’s trying to exorcise himself of an intensely gratifying yet shame-filled sexual affair with Raul, who secretly adores Bernardo but doesn’t know how to show it.
When Raul blackmails Bernardo, their dark and sordid relationship not only threatens the bond between father and son, it places Arbol’s life in danger. Now Bernardo must make a difficult choice that could further alienate his son while Alonso must find a way to keep the man he loves.
Review by Jess Faraday
What I liked best about this story was the complicated way that the protagonists’ lives intertwined, both with those of the other characters, and with the slave trade. The author took the time to explain how the main characters could simultaneously find slavery objectionable and yet have their fortunes tied so inextricably to it that to get out of the trade would be to ruin not only their lives, but those of their families, employees, and slaves. It was refreshing and more realistic than I had expected.
I also liked the complicated way in which the lives of don Bernardo, his son Alonso, the slave Arbol, and the despicable Raul came together. For Bernardo and Raul, there had once been affection. Then came sex, somehow business became tied into the deal, and by the time of the story, Bernardo and Raul can’t stand one another, but have mind-blowing sex, and can’t avoid one another due to business. Alonso and Arbol grew up together after Bernardo rescued the infant Arbol from the murderous Raul, and now Alonso is both master to Arbol and his lover. And now Raul has his eye on Arbol, and Bernardo is powerless to deny him. Fabulous and tense.
The one thing that continuously bothered me, however, was the characterization of the slave Arbol. Don Bernardo and his son Alonso are complex characters. They love, they hate, they have moral dilemmas. Arbol is portrayed as property–not merely a slave, but an object. In the beginning of the story, he is an object of pity: an orphaned infant who must be hidden. Later, he is an object of lust: submissive, gorgeous, dependent, and willing–but not much more than this.
One might argue that Arbol, being a slave, is an object, at least in the eyes of society. But even a slave can have thoughts, insights, intelligence and ability. Arbol’s main ability seems to be taking Alonso’s Gigantic Cock, which had, before Arbol, been too big for any other man. One might argue that in a work written mainly for entertainment and titillation, one shouldn’t expect character depth. But the slave owners are complex and conflicted. One might argue that “objectified, submissive, naive, dark-skinned African slave” is a turn-on for some people, and I should get off my Politically Correct High Horse. But this characterization offended me, so there you go.
It is a titillating read. The tortuous relationship between Bernardo and Raul, with all its attendant history and complications is absolute fireworks. The sex is emotionally complex, fraught, and worth a read. It’s well plotted as well, with twists, turns and tension. And research has definitely been done. It’s just the appearance of the Slave-as-Prop that bothers me. So caveat lector.