About The Slave Palace: Wulf and Locke (Kingdom of Slaves #1) by Wendy Rathbone
Genre: M/M Fantasy/Alternate World Romance
Heat Level: Medium
Conquered. Captured. Sold as a pleasure slave.
After being taken as a prisoner of war, Wulf fights his captors and is sold as a One-Night Thrall to be used and abused, then put to death. He is purchased by a high ranking master of the famous Slave Palace. Why Locke buys him, Wulf has no clue, but something about this master is intriguing. Instead of abuse, Wulf is plied with luxuries he has never known by a man who actually seems to respect him.
Jaded. Looking for a challenge.
Eminent Master Locke takes on a bet with his best friend that he can’t train and tame a dangerous One-Night Thrall in ten days. But something about this slave stirs him like no other before. All bets aside, Locke has the urge to keep Wulf, as well as save his life. But Wulf is fierce, unwilling, and his consent papers have been forged. If Wulf doesn’t soon submit to his role as a slave, he will be sent to death as a prisoner of war.
A sweet, slow-burn love story taking place on an alternate contemporary Earth where owning pleasure slaves is legal.
The Slave Palace: Wulf and Locke is the story of a warrior who gets captured by the enemy and taken to a luxurious slave palace. Wulf’s home country is backward and puritan in its dealings with sex and emotion, but Wulf’s new home has views which are completely opposite. The story follows Wulf and his new master Locke, who is kind and caring in the face of Wulf’s anger and anxieties.
For me, this story had so much potential, and I very much enjoyed some of it. For example, the chemistry between Wulf and Locke was palpable, and there were a few really cool worldbuilding details. I also loved the characterization. Locke especially was fun to read about; he was attractive, intimidating, and compelling. The power play between him and Wulf fascinated me, and the villain was well-drawn and terrifying in a quiet way.
Even so, as the story progressed, I found myself increasingly disappointed. I am a fan of master/slave stories and dubious consent but not in the way they were presented here. At times, the scenes were painful and gratuitously nonconsensual—not between the main characters and not necessarily sexual, but uncomfortable and not fun to read. At other times, the scenes were saccharin. As a slow-burn romance, it only had two sex scenes, and the most significant one was not the payoff I was hoping for. I found the actual sex unappealing in its focus on mechanics and the sense of taste (not my thing!). I understand what the author was going for there, but as a reader, I was very much looking forward to this scene and was disappointed to be turned off by it.
This book also suffers from lack of editing. As an editor myself, I am more tuned-in to these issues than the average reader, so many will probably not be annoyed by it. But there were several typos that could have been diminished with a single read-through.