Author: Faith Ashlin
Publisher: Totally Bound
Cover Artist: unknown
Rating: 5.00 of 5 Stars
How does a world that accepts slavery affect both master and slave? Can two people build a new life for themselves with a start like theirs?
It’s a world like this one except for the all-powerful State that’s very firmly in control and the fact that slavery is legal. Jimmy had never really thought about it or the fight for freedom going on around him. He was too busy enjoying his privileged life as an actor on a sci-fi show.
But what is he meant to do when he’s forced to permanently bond to a slave he doesn’t want just because he made one silly, drunken mistake? Does it change who he is, what he is?
Trouble is, Jimmy isn’t sure who he was to start with. He’d never thought about it.
And what about his slave, Nate? Can a slave force Jimmy into learning something about himself?
Reader Advisory: This book contains a scene of rape and references to dubious consent.
Faith Ashlin was recently a guest of Prism Book Alliance. Be Sure to check out their guest post here.
Josie Goodreads’s View:
A Slow Process of understanding by Faith Ashlin is a thought provoking story, one that lingered long after I finished the book. Ms. Ashlin doesn’t write simple boy meets boy romances, she writes stories that challenge the reader’s perceptions of what makes up a romance. Her AU worlds are dark places where society is oppressive and totalitarian, where slavery is the norm, a world full of haves’ and the really have not’s, but worlds close enough to our own to give pause for thought.
Jimmy Shepard has always been untouched by the darker elements of the society which surrounds him. He’s been protected by an overbearing and demanding mother, and his innate goofy charm that endears him to everyone he meets, a charm that and allows him to get away with things others wouldn’t. That is until he gets blind drunk and mouths off to the gay son of a state official. For that ‘crime’ Jimmy is sentenced to a month in prison plus he’s bonded to a slave, a male slave. Jimmy is gay but he’s never been really out so the state thought they were punishing him by bonding him to a male slave. Bonding is like marriage, but without the possibility of divorce.
The slave Jimmy is bonded to is Nate Fletcher. When Jimmy first meets Nate, covered in mud, filthy and with an injured leg Jimmy sees beyond the surface to the pretty attractive man underneath. Nate is quiet, pliable, anxious to please, he has no way of knowing the type of owner Jimmy would be so he plays it safe, doing and being exactly what Jimmy wants. Their relationship, if it can be called that, progresses simply, they spend the first few months in prison. They have time to talk, although Jimmy does all the talking, and to fuck, something Jimmy likes a lot. Jimmy thinks he has struck gold with Nate. Nate is gorgeous, he does what he’s told, when he’s told, he’s the perfect slave, Jimmy even thinks he loves Nate, and tells him so. Everything in Jimmy’s life is perfect. Until the day that it isn’t. The day Nate finally reveals who he is and walks away.
Jimmy is left reeling from the disclosure that all was not as he thought. He thought he was the perfect owner, kind and considerate, he never understood what that actually meant, and most of all he never knew Nate. Over the coming months Nate keeps returning to Jimmy, to just talk, rest, or sometimes to sleep. Jimmy can’t make any sense of Nate’s visits and Nate can’t explain them either. Can these two men find a common ground, and can they build anything for the future?
I’ve found it hard to put into words how I feel about this story. I love it but it’s not an easy story to compress and define. I like Jimmy, he’s a nice guy but even so at first he comes over as very superficial, he’s thinks only of himself and he’s totally indifferent to the world around him. He has no idea that how he feels about owning Nate is wrong. He keeps telling himself that he’s a good owner, he looks after Nate, makes sure he has food, clothes, great medical attention, it reminds me of the care and attention a person would give to their pet. Nate doesn’t have any choices, he has to obey Jimmy, has to do what he’s told, even down to wearing the pink shirts that Jimmy buys him, the shirts he hates. It’s not until Nate leaves (technically becoming a runaway slave) flinging all his discontent into Jimmy’s face while doing so that Jimmy starts to really think about everything, and about how he treated Nate.
The word rape is one that is thrown about a lot in his story, and yes Jimmy did rape Nate, on more than one occasion, but I think it’s open to interpretation as it could be considered more dubious consent than rape. There is a rape scene later on the story that is markedly different but that doesn’t involve Jimmy.
Nate himself is a chameleon, he shows a different face to Jimmy at the beginning to the person he really is. He shows Jimmy what he thinks he wants to see, a pretty pliable warm body to fuck and snuggle up to. That’s the Nate Jimmy falls in love with. It’s only once Nate is well enough to return to his old life that he shows Jimmy the person he really is.
The title A Slow Process of Understanding perfectly describes this story. At first it’s easy enough to think Jimmy is the only one changing but he’s not the only one, Nate is too. Nate’s changes are more subtle, much slower and less easy to define. The term Stockholm Situation is how some of Nate’s friends in the freedom movement describe his need to return regularly to see Jimmy, but I don’t think it’s that, it’s more that he needs time to process each new thought, and it’s through the conversations they have, and the arguments, that both men see the real side of the other man, and that gives their relationship new ground to build love on.
I’m very conscious that nothing I say can do this story justice. I don’t have the eloquence of words to explain how it makes me feel but one thing I do know is that this is a love story. Fate threw Nate and Jimmy together and events pulled them apart, but fate also gave them both the ability to change, to see beyond initial impressions and to come out the other side stronger and together.
I adore Faith Ashlin’s writing; it’s thought-provoking, intense and full of emotion, any book by Ms. Ashlin is highly recommended but this one is very special.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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