Gaven by J. C. Owens

Gaven by J. C. Owens
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (83 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal Sex, Forced Seduction, Voyeurism
Rating: 4.5 Cherries
Review by Cactus

When the Masarians attack Gaven’s people, they are defeated and Gaven himself is taken captive. By a man claiming to be his father. It turns out his entire life has been a lie, and now his ‘father’ will give him into the hands of another man to indoctrinate and train him. Gaven vows he will never shame his people by giving into the Masarians’ way of loving other men.

But Vlar, the legendary warrior to whom he has been given, has other plans. The blood-drinker is determined to have Gaven and to make him yield.

Publisher’s Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: Anal play/intercourse, dubious consent, male/male sexual practices, violence, voyeurism.

When Gaven is taken prisoner after his home is destroyed, he never dreamed they would tell him he was the son of the warlord. Now Gaven must come to terms with his past isolation and the offer of companionship, training, and a home by his once hated enemies. Unfortunately part of that offer is to be trained sexually since Masarians believe in the bond of brothers during battle. Now Gaven must also contend with sex with another man, something he fears and hates.

This story is a fantasy epic about Gaven’s emotional journey as he struggles with his past and present. Once told that his life was a lie, Gaven is confused and angry. He is supposedly the son of the warlord but these are people he grew up fearing and hating. These are his enemies and they show very little compassion for his situation. He is told immediately that he will be given to a legendary warrior for military training as well as sexual training in the art of man loving. For a 17 year old young man just coming of age, to say he was freaked out is putting it mildly. Gaven’s fear and uncertainty paint a wonderful character as he struggles with anger, rage, helplessness, and fear. He makes poor choices but most are fueled by desperation and fear, placed far away from everything he’s known.

The first person narrative from Gaven’s perspective is strong, poignant and emotional. The tension and drama of Gaven’s journey to understanding and ultimately a kind of acceptance is evocative and typified with wonderful writing and prose. Gaven never easily gives in and struggles throughout the book to accept this new world versus staying in the whirlwind of misery and confusion that he has come to know. If I have any qualms about the book, it is that the relationship between Gaven and his trainer, Vlar, is weak and under-developed. Vlar is a legendary warrior that has trained many men and there is no real evidence that the connection between Vlar and Gaven goes beyond that superficial interaction. There is no real romance and emotion between the men, thus eliminating the happy ending and not delivering on the romance aspect of the book.

My other issue is the lack of world building in the story. Other than the initial introduction to the Masarians and a statement of their rituals, very little detail is offered to develop this intricate new fantasy world. I was left feeling as if the story is based on ancient civilizations rather than a new fantasy setting. This didn’t detract from the story but didn’t add enough detail and texture to fully deliver a new and exciting world.

Overall, this is a highly enjoyable book as the strengths are the great writing and fabulous character of Gaven. Although the supporting characters were predictable and empty, the solid narration carried the fast paced story. Fans of fantasy romance will sympathize with Gaven but likely be left wanting with the lack of relationship presented. However, perhaps the author will offer a sequel where Vlar and his intriguing vampire tendencies will be explored. With a gorgeous cover and absorbing story, you should still be sure to get this one.

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