Sacrati by Kate Sherwood #AudioBook

Sacrati by Kate Sherwood #AudioBookSacrati by Kate Sherwood

Narrator: Dorian Bane
Genres: Fantasy Romance, M/M Romance
Published by Riptide on May 26, 2016
Length: 12 hours and 36 minutes
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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four-half-stars      four-flames

It’s been a while since I picked up a good enemies to lovers romance and it was extra intriguing because it is a fantasy setting and by a new to me author.  Two societies and two men clash in this warring fantasy world that pulled me in with an engaging plot, well-drawn backdrop, and characters that kept me guessing if they would ever get past their issues.

The story opens with elite Sacrati warrior group leader, Theos, and his men encountering a party of the enemy that are well within the boundaries of their lands.  Theos and his men take the party of Elkati easily and lead their new prisoners back to their home city for interrogation and to be processed as slaves for the Torian Empire.  Only, Theos is suspicious of why this group strayed so far into enemy territory.  It had to be on purpose, but unfortunately, nobody’s talking.

Theos and his best friend Andros figure out that surprisingly the young untried looking one seems to be the leader.  Finnvid is defiant and Theos knows he holds secrets.  Theos is shocked when the warlord’s men do an inept interrogation and then attempts to spirit Finnvid away with a slave caravan before he has shared his secrets.  Theos doesn’t know what is going on, but he knows Finnvid is the key so he impulsively exercises his rights as victorious marauder and claims Finnvid as his slave thus putting himself in the warlord’s crosshairs and curtailing that particular plot involving the young secretive Elkati.

It is unarmed and sometimes armed neutrality at best between the new and reluctant master and his haughty, resentful slave.  They clash over everything from the Torian’s daily lives and roles to the Torian’s open dealings with the same sex and the opposite sex.  Finnvid gets an eyeful and finds it all shocking.  Theos is equally appalled when he discovers Finnvid and the other Elkati treat their woman as less to the men, have clumsy and rudimentary military skill, and are so constricted in their monogamous sex life.

Theos comes from an open, accepting culture where the women live in and run the city within the walls and the men live in the military barracks outside.  There are distinct roles and it is not a shame to openly love their own sex or to enjoy the festivals when the women call the men into the city to help them make children.  Torians are a military war machine that conquer and integrate the lands around them, but stabilize as they go so that wealth and commodities are more evenly distributed and the Elkati, though not martial, wish to keep the Torian war machine out of their valley and take a special privilege for special born attitude.

A game of cat and mouse is in play where the stakes are high.  Theos likes things simple and lives his life with honor, but he slowly discovers that all is not as it should be on the home front.  What goes on in his little valley and the Torian city there is nothing like the rest of the sprawling Empire where the center of the country has left behind the Torian tenants and live for decadence and gain.  Finnvid has his own end game going and works his plan only to discover complications not only with his mission in Toria, but also what is going on back in Elkat.  He is also going through great confusion about himself and a crisis of conscience once he really opens himself to seeing that different doesn’t mean bad and his early assumptions about many things are utterly wrong.  But the two men need to figure out themselves so that when the crisis comes, they will know where their true loyalties lie.

Alright, so I do enjoy this sort of story.  There is a lot going on here.  Intrigue and spying, plottings and ploys.  Two unique races who have culture and social clashes along with different ideologies about war.  Then there is this all brought from a grand to an individual scale with the two protagonists.  The Torians had a Greek Spartans feel to them with the brotherhood of elite warriors though there is a flavor of the Roman Empire to the way it conquered and absorbed other peoples and countries into their empire.  And the Elkati were like a medieval European culture with its sophistry and aristocracy.

It made for a long story detailing out the differences in those two societies which at first seemed a social commentary on which was better, but then later showed that neither are completely perfect and the two men must figure out how to bridge the gap between countries, but also between their ideas of relationship.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved the world of the story and the chance for the characters to be developed well along with some good action and suspense, but there were draggy parts where the ideology stuff got repetitive.  The reader gets a strong understanding of the Torian way of life and then the Elkati mostly through Theos and Finnvid’s eyes, but throughout the book, the descriptions are repeated.

It was interesting getting a romance that featured a hero who lived in an open relationship style and the other hero who was a virgin.  Though, they don’t come together for some time (enemies, master/slave, etc), there are sparks, attraction, and passion right away though it is channeled into verbal and silent battles between the pair.  They have to come to a meeting of the minds and have to overcome betrayal and suspicion before the air is cleared for the romance to happen.

It’s a non-traditional romance because of the open lifestyle in Theos’ group, but not because Theos ever uses Finnvid as truly his slave.  All the interactions are very much consensual though the world of this story has both races keep slaves who probably are at the mercy of masters.

A gifted audio narrator, Dorian Bane, was at the helm on this story.  He had a large cast of people mostly male, but also from different races that I felt he did rather well.  The characters were in livid detail and his pace, emotional tone, and storytelling enhanced an already good story.

In summary, this was fantastic- long and drawn out, but never lost my interest.  The end third was a real page turner.  M/M Fantasy Romance lovers should give this one a try.

My thanks to Riptide Publishing for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #211 FR
New to Me #88 author
Audio #26

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Hmm despite the dragging bits and ideology this does sound like a good story.

    • The draggy bits weren’t much of a deterrent since the rest was fabulous for me. I do like these types.

  • oh this sounds so fascinating…I love a good story with great intrigue and all these factors sound like they make a fantastic read.

    • I love these too, but don’t come across all the elements together like this very often so I jump on them when I see them.

  • The enemies to lover trope is my absolute favorite! This sounds great. I mean, as long as the draggy parts are worth it.

    • Yes, this is a fav of mine, too. The draggy parts are detailed worldbuilding and discussion of their worlds so it’s not boring just really slow (ok, it might be boring if that’s not your thing). 🙂 I liked it, myself, but I’m curious about all those sorts of details.

  • Sounds like quite the world the author put together. I’ll have to check out the narrator. I always appreciate it when they manage to voice so many and keep them distinct.

    • Yes, she reminded me of how Tolkien got so elaborate with his LoTRs worldbuilding though this one had more consistent action. 😉
      I really like Dorian Bane as a narrator. He did a cowboy trilogy I liked and then this is my fourth encounter with his work. He has a good ‘rugged’ voice which is good for soldiers like these or cowboys, but he didn’t do too bad with the polished voices either.

  • The world building sounds great. I love stories like this.

    • I have a hard time finding them, but yes, I love these, too, Mary.

  • I don’t think this one would be one for me but I am glad you loved it. I am just not big into fantasy like this. And romance in an open relationship probably would bother me as well. But that’s just me. I think the relationship between the two men sounds pretty fascinating however. Great review!

    • Fantasy settings can be ticklish and have a different feel to the story. But I think I didn’t make it clear, the romance itself wasn’t part of an open relationship (actually that was one of the conflicts- Finnvid wouldn’t be with a guy unless it was exclusive so Theos had to decide if he could be exclusive or not). Sorry, I didn’t make that clear.
      Yeah, they were fascinating the way they there so very different and had different backgrounds, but both so strong and stubborn, too. LOL

  • This sounds a like a great story. I’ve been reading more fantasies lately. I’m adding to my TBR. Great review. Thanks for sharing.

    Melanie @ Hot Listens & Rabid Reads

    • It’s actually a good one if you’re just testing the waters in the fantasy genre b/c it feels more historical than anything since there aren’t any magical elements. Hope you like it, Melanie!

  • RO

    I love this review and the story line and I can tell you really enjoyed it ! Hugs…