Bran's Story by MaculateGiraffe
If you're like me, you see "Independently published" and your nose wrinkles. But you also can't deny a free read, so you click and start reading. And you're amazed. I was amazed. The copy is clean, the story is superb, the writing is excellent and the emotional pull is strong. The overall story involves a Master-Slave relationship, but doesn't really do too much BDSM except for the "obey me" bit. The basic concept (slave falling for his master) isn't unique, but the way in which the author approaches it is. VERY enjoyable. (Warning: Sexual partners are not hard and fast in this story, but the characters aren't "slutty," they just have a different concept of loyalty.)
What I liked
Characters. Bran, Holden, Yves come off the page like the beautiful men they are, wrapping their naked limbs around each other and the reader until you relax into their grasp. They are brilliantly colored and varied, and even Yves--who we know the least about, has the least screen time, and would seem to be a "flat" character--is more than meets the eye. He has weaknesses and strengths and the author doesn't feel the need to tell us this because we see it through his interactions with Bran and his master.
World. Because the setting is supposed to be equivalent to ours in most cases, the author is freed from having to describe everything and is free to focus on the more important elements: the slave-master dynamic, both in a private context and a social context (this is developed in a later book). The author does an excellent job of illustrating everything for the reader and absorbing the reader into the world.
Bran. Bran comes from an abusive master and is terrified, but he's not broken. I think this is refreshing, as well as a central point of the story. Bran is so hopeful and desires so strongly to please, that you can't help but be happy when he is happy.
What didn't work
If you're looking for a high-intensity plot with action, this isn't it. The plot is by no means boring, but it's more of a subtle, internal struggle than a fight for life.
There was one small "huh?" that arose, and that was so small. The world is pretty much parallel to ours, with cars, etc, but also with slaves. But there is mention of a chamber pot being used, which seemed a little odd. Didn't they have toilets? They have cars but not toilets? But this can easily be explained away by the fact that it is almost parallel. So not a big deal. You know it's a good book when you have to pick on ONE line in the entire story.