Author submission in exchange for an honest review.
Anchored: Belonging Book One
January 17, 2011
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 who's owned him since childhood, decides to lease him on evenings and weekends to boost their flagging profits.
Daniel's not stupid; he knows there's only one reason a man would pay so much for what little free time he has, and it's got nothing to do with his knowledge of current events. But he's never been made to serve like that before, and he fears he won't survive the experience with his sanity intact.
He finds himself in the home of Carl Whitman, a talk show host whose words fail him time and again when it comes to ordering Daniel to bed. Daniel knows what Carl wants, but it seems as if Carl isn't willing to take it, and Daniel's not willing to give it freely. His recalcitrance costs him dearly, but with patience and some hard-won understanding, love just might flourish where once there'd been only fear and pain. Can Carl become the anchor in Daniel's turbulent life, or will he end up the weight that sinks his slave for good?
This is a story about a boy – Daniel – who has grown up as a slave. He served an extremely cruel mistress until he was around 11 or so. Then he was bought by a representative for NewWorldMedia (NWM). Fast forward 16 years. Daniel is a news anchor for NWM’s company InfoGlobe. In addition to his anchor duties, he has just been leased out as a “Companion” to a new master, and he’s freaking out about it. Clearly Daniel wants to be out of slavery, but it’s all he’s ever known. And sexual slavery? Not really something that he’s looking forward to. Daniel is terrified, but knows his lot in life, and heads off to meet Carl, his new master.
Daniel’s first meeting with Carl is so uncomfortably awkward, that it almost made me embarrassed for Daniel. But then I realized that I was just getting a glimpse into Daniel’s mentality. Daniel is totally freaked out because Carl doesn’t seem to want sex, but that’s what he was hired for. Daniel is a little irritated and confused because he’s been worrying about this all day, and then…nothing. Carl tends to treat Daniel as more of an equal than a slave, and Daniel is more than a little out of his element.
And suddenly we’re switching back to a scene at InfoGlobe where Daniel is being punished for transgressions earlier that week. And by punished, I mean 80 lashes with a whip. Daniel can barely handle it, and his “handler,” Tim, basically takes care of him and gets him through the pain. And then Daniel heads back to Carl’s, where Carl tries to take care of him (not sexually) and Daniel is incredibly resistant.
One of the key things driving the plot is that Daniel is skittish. And just in case you couldn’t figure that out for yourself, the fact is hit home almost every other page. Daniel is terrified of Carl. Daniel is scared of sex. Daniel is afraid of being punished. Daniel is constantly worried about doing something wrong. As I reader, I caught onto that pretty quickly, but really felt like I was just being bludgeoned with new fears and trepidations every time I turned the page. There’s a fine line between establishing character behavior pattern and beating a dead horse.
At any rate, Carl is beyond patient with Daniel’s skittishness, but eventually hits his breaking point. He decides he wants to return Daniel, which again leads Daniel to be punished. And by punished, I mean that our pretty little virgin is gang-raped by the people who own InfoGlobe & NWM. I don’t think that’s really what Carl had in mind, but it happened, and it really shaped Daniel’s behavior in the remainder of the story. The goal of the gang rape is not to humiliate Daniel, but rather to make him understand what his place is. He’s a sex slave, plain and simple, and he better not forget it. Watching Daniel suffer was almost too much for me to take. The only reason I was ok with it, was that I assumed, because I was reading a romance, that there would be some kind of happy ending. I wasn’t disappointed.
Overall, this book wasn’t really for me. It seemed slow at times, but it could just be that I wasn’t totally sold on the subject matter. There are some excellent bonding scenes between Daniel and Jane, another of Carl’s slaves, that make this worth reading. And Carl himself is a pretty likable character. The story was just lacking something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.