Sunday, October 23, 2011

REVIEW: A Modest Proposal by Felicitas Ivey

A Modest Proposal A Modest Proposal by Felicitas Ivey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

CAUTION: Long Review, Spoilers
Hagar is the captain of the cargo ship Midgard Serpent. Most of his shipments blah blah blah—
The blurb didn't interest me enough to buy the book. That is, until I read Mandy's review.
This book is kind of a cheesy, slutty, mildly D/s space romp. —Blah blah blah— It's heavy on the sex content, lots of 'pounding through the mattress' and 'needy little slut'.
That is what interest me. That is what convinced me to hand over my moolah, my wampum, my green notes. I am so there. Thank you MandyM for your very accurate review. Good karma for you. \^_^/

A Modest Proposal is told in 3rd POV that switches from Hagar and Shibito's perspective. Hagar is the manly top, Shibito is the needy bottom. There's your D/s relationship. The author is strongly influenced by yaoi, so any readers who wants to read a short story of yaoi, this is it.

There are references to rape, but no rape scenes. However, some readers might regard the initial sex scenes as dubious consent. Interestingly, you can argue for either lover as the victim of dubious consented sex. Hagar used Shibitio's desperate situation to get free shagging, and he wanted to see how far he can push Shibito's limit. Shibito as a psychic manipulated—though somewhat unintentionally—Hagar's emotion to enhance their lust for each other.

On a rough estimate, the story is half sex scenes and half no-sex-just-plot scenes. The sex scenes are very graphical, very hot—I was superbly indulged. The plot had good pacing, made sense, and exciting action.

In a short amount of text, the author managed to world-build the story well. So imagine Earth as the galaxy, and Earth's powerful countries as confederations that each rule over a network of planets. I assumed in this story that Earth's countries never united as one, and basically just extended their rule farther into space and over other planets. America, Russia, Japan, etc. each have their own planets.

Even though the story was scifi and futuristic, there were traditions and ancient culture in play. Nippon Imperium, i.e. the Japanese confederation, have monks, temples, emperors-as-divine belief, and the long-hair-to-signify-nobles fashion. As I understand, the author basically took ancient Japan and push it into the space age.

Shibito was bit of an emo but it was understandable considering his circumstances: His power-drunk, crazy-ass cousin drugged him and left him to die in the badland of space. He was raped while under the influence of the potentially-fatal drug. He couldn't use his psychic power like normal because of that drug. Even though he accepted his sexuality, he still had issues of poor-gay-me and I-can't-birth-heirs and disappointed-family. Last but not least, he was on the run for his life.

All of that and he was still only a bit of emo, at least from my POV. I like Shibito because in spite of it all he managed to get his act together and fix things. He successfully avoided his enemies while on the run for his life. Even though his power were on the fritz, he used his psychic power to hack machines to get where he needed to go. He got enough gumption to do anything for Hagar so that he can acquire safe passage, even if it meant whoring out his body.

In short, Shibito knew what he was doing in order to return home, get help from a trusted friend, confront his crazy-ass cousin, and ultimately save his loved ones from his cousin's madness. That's the kind of protagonist I love to read about, the kind who knows what they're doing and they get things done. It would have way too easy for Shibito to give up, be helpless, and mope. But no way, Shibito overcame his circumstances and beat his villainous cousin's butt.

Oh, and he managed to get a lovable sex fiend of a boyfriend out of the horrible situation. Score!

I like Hagar, I like how he was willing to put with the crazy situation Shibito pulled him in. Hagar could have, at any point, back out and ran far away from the entire madness. Amazing that he didn't and some readers might have a problem with this because the rational thing Hagar should have done was to run away. But Hagar didn't.

Though the relationship started out as purely sex-based, I like how Hagar and Shibito's lust for each other developed into love. They didn't know each other, but they managed to trust each other all the way to end to defeat Kogon. Readers might complain that they trusted too easily, feel in love too quickly, but I had no issue with it. The pacing of the story and the development of its romance was a good fit of speed for me.

A Modest Proposal would have gotten a five-stars rating from me were it not the loose ends. Kogon died and nobody knows who will be the next emperor. Shibito, being the most powerful psychic, seem to the best bet but he doesn't want the position because he doesn't think he could fulfil its duty, like giving heirs for an example (which I think is a lame excuse considering how IVF and surrogacy can fix that easily). Before Kogon died, he also rid six other cousins like he did with Shibito. The story ends with Shibito and Hagar on the journey to rescue them. This made the entire story a HFN which I didn't really like. I sincerely hope the author left the ending open like that because she's starting a series. I hope.

Another gripe I had was the villain Kogon. He was adequately evil, but I didn't really understand why he committed suicide near the end. The story's reason "Kogon killed himself rather than lose" didn't satisfy me at all. I wanted him to be so evil that he would try to kill Shibito and Hagar and everyone else to the very dear, crazy-ass end. I don't care much for villains who self-destruct. It almost reeks of Deus Ex Machina there.

Overall, I like the couple; I really like their sex scenes; and I like how the plot wasn't thin. Giving A Modest Proposal four stars for really-liked-it.

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