1: a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune
2: an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest
Anyone who reads this blog knows how I feel about Sophie Kisker and her work. I’ve reviewed several other of her books. This time, I’m going with the Finding Home series. Sophie has it listed as Finding Home: An Erotic Tale of Love and War. And yeah, it totally is. I wouldn’t take them as 3 separate books, because they aren’t a stand-alones, but more as one book that has been broken into 3 sections, like the Lord of the Rings. Luckily, all three books are out, so you can read them all back to back to back. Protip: Odyssey, the first one, is on sale for $0.99 today 12/17. All three books are available on Kindle Unlimited.
Finding Home takes place in Meridia. It’s a country that is broken up into several provinces. Think Canada or maybe Australia instead. Only, there really is no country-wide government, there is a committee that all the leaders belong too, but nothing like an overarching prime minister or president. Because each province is self-ruled, the laws and treatments of the people can widely vary. The rulers also tend to be hereditary, with the leader choosing one of his children or adopting someone to be an heir. Depending on the leader, you may get someone who is competent and has a competent heir, or you can get a family that runs their province into the ground and their heirs are just as incompetent and maybe tyrannical. While there are several provinces, we are mainly concerned with three of them. In the first book, we are dealing with Edwal and Alaine. In the second and third books, Orre becomes just as important.
Now, there are a lot of politics that go on in these books on top of the sexy, sexy, sex. Sophie doesn’t relate the politics back to the real world in any way, so if you don’t like politics, then you aren’t going to have to deal with the real world politics. The politics are braided in through the story with the sex and the romance. You really can’t have one part without the other. When you read it, you’ll see what I mean.
OK, back to the world of Meridia. Edwal is ruled by Elias Palm. He is a tyrant and dictator. He has severely restricted the rights of his people. He has had houses of college professors bugged, there are security cameras on every corner, and people are encouraged to inform on each other. Palm is suspicious, paranoid, and an all-around fuckhead. Alaine is one of their neighbors and is run by Daniel Weiss. Weiss is a sane, rational person, who tries to rule his province as well as possible and keeps his people’s needs in mind. So, of course, Palm hates him. Orre is run by Benjamin Aldriss. More on him later.
Odyssey was the first book I read by Sophie. It has some intense points in it and I had a hard time with some of those places. I’ve read other intense books and even books that are arguably more intense, but there’s just something about this one that really, really got to me. Even on rereads, when I know what’s coming, the same points get to me. However, that doesn’t put me off reading the series, and I hope it doesn’t put you off it too.
So, Odyssey. Edwal decides that it’s going to invade Alaine. Mostly because Palm is a motherfucker. So he institutes a draft for every male up to the age of 50, which includes Liz Peltier’s dad. The Alaine military manages to drive the poor men of Edwal back, and they invade Liz’s town since it is closest to the border. As part of the reparations, the leaders of Alaine decide that they are going to take young women hostages for ransom. So women between the ages of 18-40 who aren’t mothers are at risk of being selected. Twenty of the wives and daughters of the most important people in that town are selected to be hostages instead of all the men being arrested. This is a relatively common practice, so no one expects it to take long. Except, no one takes Elias Palm and his nuttiness into consideration.
The women are taken to an army base, where they are actually held for weeks. During that time, Liz steps up as a leader and does what she can to help make the stay easier on everyone. Can I just say that I think Liz is a total badass? She really is, and it shows up throughout the entire series. When Palm refuses to do anything, one woman is selected to stay as a hostage slave in Chairman Weiss’s home. That means sexual slavery. And of course, I bet you can figure out who that woman is. Liz has quite a journey to go through to get through the end of the book and through the end of the series, and some seriously shitty things happen. More about it after the spoiler warning.
In Sanctuary we are still staying in Alaine and the Weiss estate, for the most part, but this is where Orre and Benjamin Aldriss come into play. Aldriss has a daughter named Jenny. In the beginning of the book, Jenny is sitting outside of their house, having come home from college, because she needs some space. While she is sitting there, she watches her whole family be destroyed, along with everyone in the house, and even the house. She knows that she needs to find somewhere safe and everyone thinks that she’s dead. The safest place she can think of is with her father’s friend, Daniel Weiss of Alaine. She manages to get there, and she’s going to have to live as a slave there, because who’s going to think of looking for her there, and she will be protected as much as is possible. But, she can’t just pretend. She has to go through the whole training. That’s when she meets Liz, who is acting as a mentor, and who helps her get through her training. Meanwhile, back in Orre, Palm has decided that he’s going to “help” out Orre and takes over huge swathes of the country. Now on to the next book.
Refining Fire is the third and last book. In metalworking, you refine metals by subjecting them to high heat, back in the day, fire would be used in one way or another. Heating up the metal to a certain point lets all the impurities burn away. When the metal comes out of the fire, it is pure. Certain objects made of metal, like knives and swords, go through heat treatment as part of their manufacturing. The heat treatment allows them to be stronger. Both of these things are important in this book. Michael and Jenny, Liz and Ryan all four have their own issues as people and as couples, and as a group. There are all sorts of shitty things that happen in this book. I know it sounds like I’m not saying a whole lot, but I’m being careful so that I don’t overly spoil it. The main action of the book is for Jenny to be allowed to rule her family’s province and what it’s going to take to get there. There’s also a lot of discussion about what submission means when circumstances change.
Wow, this is a long post. And I know that it seems that I have kind of brushed over the second 2 books, but the thing is, if I talk too much about book 2 or 3 then I am going to spoil the books ahead of it. So, if you want more info about the books, then you need to go read them yourself. Told you, they are all on KU and you can get Odyssey at a steal today. Meanwhile, I’m going to go on and make this long post even longer when I go on to the spoiler section. This is a great series, and it should definitely get more love than it does. The story is really well-written and everything winds together so very well. All the characters, all the themes, all the everything, just braids into a cohesive whole and turns into an epic odyssey.
OK, in O, the original slave trainer, Master Thomas, abuses Liz, after the assistant trainer, Ryan, did all he could to put her fears at rest because in Edwal, terrible things happen to sex slaves. That really makes it hard for Liz, until Daniel fires Thomas. Ryan takes over, and he changes the way that things were done. He wasn’t about forcing submission but more about guiding a woman to find her submission and be able to give it. It works really well, and you can see from the very beginning of the story that Liz and Ryan are going to end up in some sort of relationship, it’s just hard to figure out how, since they are Master and slave. Ryan is incredibly protective of her, and it shows up when Liz is attacked and actually ends up in court.
In S, Ryan is still training and Liz is really his assistant, as much as possible, because she’s a natural leader. When Jenny comes in, she has a very hard time, since she’s been to the house many times before as a guest, and her mindset is hard to switch from. Liz becomes her mentor. She helps Jenny and if Jenny fucks up, they both get punished. It may seem mean to do it that way, but it works. Michael, who is Weiss’s heir, falls head over heels with Jenny, which makes it hard on both of them, since she’s a slave and he’s her master, plus they are trying to keep her safe. And this is where some serious, serious orgasm control comes in too. Jenny is very orgasmic, so the goal is to keep her from coming without permission. She goes through training for that. Sadly, there’s a point where that gets used against her. The Palms and their followers are massive fuckwads.
In RF, oh man, I cried. Jenny and Liz are both freed and with their loves, but Liz and Ryan are trying to figure out what him being her Master and her being the slave works with her being technically free. That’s the relationship that they want, but there are going to be bumps and bruises. Jenny is busy trying to figure out how to rule her province and how to fight Edwal while trying to get her rights as a leader. At the same time, she’s trying to figure out how to be with Micheal who is now the leader of Alaine and be both a strong woman and leader and a submissive partner to Michael. Really interesting dynamics going on in the book. While they are trying to figure everything out, something happens to Jenny that sidetracks those dynamics, and causes her to have a tremendous loss. It’s at this part that I cried, and is one of the intense parts of the book. It was a rough part to get through.
It really was the book I needed to finish off the entire series. It gave me that emotional satisfaction that I look for in the end of a long series. Yeah, I felt wrung out more than once, but that just makes the happy at the end happier. I got wrung out over the past few days as I’ve read the stories again, and I needed the end and the epilogue to feel better.
I hope I didn’t lose anyone while talking about the series. I hope that Sophie likes what I wrote. I hope no one thinks that I didn’t do justice to these stories and to the characters. Go give these stories some love.