When you finish a series and you can’t stop thinking about the characters and their world, you know the author has done a great job of bringing you into his/her story. Kate Aaron does just that with her Free Men series.
I wasn’t sure quite what to expect when I started reading The Slave, the first book in the series, but I fell in love with Tamelik immediately. Collared slave to an emotionally reserved Master whom he loves without reserve, Tamelik’s first action is to purchase a rebellious slave in his Master’s name in order to save Kai from a much worse fate. The introduction of the distrustful and fearful Kai into the Master’s household, and his eventual seduction by Tamelik and his Master, are some of the most touching and beautiful scenes I have ever read. They are also incredibly hot! Tamelik and Kai’s Master, who remains unnamed at this point in the series, is, despite his position, a gentle and loving Underlord, although he tries to maintain a cold and professional demeanour when not alone with his two slaves.
The first book ends with a cliffhanger and I had to find out what happened to these three men!
In The Soldier, the second instalment in the Free Men series, Kai takes over as narrator/POV and we follow as he and Tamelik and their Master are captured by a violent militia. Throughout this story, Kai faces despair, torture and harsh conditions in order to do everything he can to save Tamelik and his Master. The love he has developed for the two men becomes apparent as he journeys across the desert to get help. So many times his effort is rewarded with so much less than he deserves, yet he keeps fighting for the three of them to be together again.
By the time I finished The Soldier I was fully invested and needed to find out more about the enigmatic Underlord who is the recipient of Tamelik and Kai’s devotion.
I think The Master is my favourite of the three books, if only because we get to explore the now named Master, Lysander’s, world more deeply in his relationship to his wife, The Mistress, and her lover Cal. We discover many secrets as to why Lysander is the way he is, why he denies his strong feelings for Tam and Kai, and the guilt he faces every day about his people’s treatment at the hands of the militia.
Kate Aaron has crafted an entire universe with such realism and emotion that you can’t help but be caught up in it. Her characters are very real and they all struggle with different things as they try to find a place for themselves in the Kingdom.
5/5 stars from me for the entire series.
Although there wasn’t any BDSM in this series, I loved the power dynamic between The Master and his slaves, even though he never took advantage of his ownership and always made sure they were willing participants in any sexual encounters.
I have all three ebooks on my Kindle but I will be asking for the hardcopies for Christmas. This series is worth putting on my actual bookshelf.