Every Good Thing by M. Jules Aedin
I started this story expecting a bit more slave-master dynamic, but by the third chapter or so, I realized this wasn't going to be. Although Arieh is sold to Enitan as a slave, Enitan plans on making him his pias, a position between highest ranking slave and wife, leaning toward obedient wife placement. The pias is expected to keep the master of the house's bed, but when Arieh is reluctant, Enitan doesn't push him.
It's a story of a boy overcoming fear and teachings to embrace his feelings for the man who bought him. There are some allusions to the negatives of drugs, the positives/negatives of faith (seems to favor multiple gods over one), and the construction of a family outside the normal "established" family idea.
What I liked
The story was well written and constructed, aside from what I mention below.
Nothing in this book really jumped out and grabbed me. It wasn't a "can't put this down" book, nor did it give me a look inside myself. I also felt there were some plots left undone at the end (the dancer's brother never gets resolution, does he?). It was enjoyable, and I may even re-read it, but it didn't amaze me.
Characters. I sympathized with the characters and I wanted happy endings for them, but I wasn't moved by their plights. I think if we'd spent more time with the two or three main characters I would have felt more for them, but my attention was distracted by the head-hopping. But I did like Arieh, even if he's a whiney kid for a chunk of time (it's understandable), and I feel sorry for Enitan who is being extremely patient.
What didn't work
Jumping perspectives. I'm very picky when it comes to this style, and while it wasn't done poorly here, I didn't feel like it was needed half the time. From a strictly logical view it works to show us everything that's happening. But it too often is used as a crutch to avoid having to write around these complications. I'm not sure if it was used as a crutch here (I didn't see a lame leg), but it also didn't fit naturally into the writing either.
I re-read the book after some time had passed, just to make sure I wasn't judging this harshly. I found I enjoyed it alot more when I skipped over all the chapters that weren't from the three main perspectives (Junia, Enitan, Arieh). I can see the advantage of experiencing some of the alternatives (when the sister dancer is helped by the magic man, when the magic man takes on an apprentice) but most everything else is unnecessary, and even the parts I can understand could have been taken on differently, especially if Junia was kept as a point of view.
Ignored complication. Junia found a book of scripture for Arieh, which he ignores in favor of being happy. His reasoning for this is that he's been abandoned by his god already, so it doesn't matter. It felt flat, and also like the author was setting something up that she decided not to follow through with. Even Enitan points this out, but it's never really resolved and I wonder if she felt it was or if she did resolve it and I'm missing it.