Succession (Demoted #3), Alicia Cameron
Publisher: Forbidden Fiction
Tags: Dark/Edgy Gay Slavefic, Non-Con, Torture, Degradation, Master/Slave BDSM, Psychological, Romance, Futuristic Dystopian Society
Length: 105,000 Words
Reviewer: Kazza K
After the news breaks about Cashiel Michaud’s involvement in research to undermine the Demoted system, he and Sascha find themselves detained as a legal case develops. Separated, they work from both sides to get released, making sacrifices and arrangements along the way. If they do reunite, will they be the same?
Sascha and Cash face a number of threats from the outside world, and some from the people closest to them. When they don’t know who to trust, their plans and their relationship are put to the test. And the results of this test could affect the world. (M/M+ – See publisher’s website for content labels.)
THIS IS BOOK #3. PROBABLY BEST TO READ THE OTHERS BEFORE THIS REVIEW.
Succession has a funny start, it begins during some chaos then jumps back six weeks to shortly after the shit hit the fan at the end of Sedition. Sascha released some research data to thwart Kristine Miller having their project shut down and Cashiel placed in jail, with Sascha probably tortured and/or murdered. It was a smart plan but Kristine Miller is not the only player in town and things are still dicey.
In this third of the Demoted Trilogy, there are several arcs going on.
- Sascha finds himself in Leadview, a detention centre for slaves whose masters have landed in trouble with the State. Sascha is pretty and the guards are happy to look the other way with their detainees in gen. pop. More than that, they like to watch a pretty young thing get fucked by powerful inmates. Marvin, the top-dog at Leadview, sets his sights on Sascha right from the beginning, but Sascha finds an ally in Syrus, who’s the second longest- serving detainee. Marvin owes Sy a favour and Sy calls it in for Sascha. It may seem altruistic but Sy is in some trouble and he knows who Sascha is – Cashiel Michaud’s prized pet, a bargaining chip to help him out with the 27th Street Gang and, perhaps, the Argova family. The latter are very keen on the new Demoted research.
- When in detention, neither knows what’s happening to the other for over five weeks. Cashiel is terrified about what might be happening to Sascha without his protection. Initially Sascha is certain Cashiel will be coming for him, but after several weeks he isn’t so sure. He begins to rely heavily on Sy. In Leadview, where the inmates are all Demoted, Sy is powerful. He takes the role of protector for Sascha. And while it may have started as Sascha being a bargaining chip, things change when the considerably older Sy develops feelings for “pretty boy.”
- Meanwhile, in jail, Cashiel is in some trouble of his own because he exposed the Miller System’s flaws and it’s all caused a bit of a ruckus. While he’s incarcerated, Emile Argova – the head of a crime family with legitimate business fronts and far-reaching power, including businessmen, politicians and government officials – approaches Cashiel. When Cashiel’s attorney dumps him as a client, the Argova’s immediately organise a high-powered lawyer, Edson, to help with his release.
- Kristine Miller is more in the background but always seeming a threat; despite protests to the contrary and trying the ‘I’ve always loved you, Cashi’ tack because her arse seems like it’s on the line. Cashiel’s research does not paint her in a good light and she knows it. Plus she can’t hold anything over his head anymore.
- Oliver Torenze holds data about the project on his servers and has his data analyst scrutinising and securing it. While Torenze pushes the new Michaud & Torenze System, he still distances himself publicly from Cashiel… for proprieties sake, of course. But Torenze never wants to distance himself from Sashca, privately. He’s still a sleaze.
- There is chaos and there are riots in Nitorra. People are angry about the Miller System possibly being dismantled. Many don’t want to lose their slaves. It’s worked well for the privileged since it was founded some fifteen years ago. Then there are abolitionists who also want to know Cashiel Michaud’s position – is he still promoting the Demoted System, only under his name? Or, is he actually an abolitionist intent on dismantling the Demoted System entirely?
- Relationships. Once Cashiel and Sascha are released it’s back to their burgeoning relationship, only this time with an extra twist. Sashca wants Sy to be bought by Cashiel so he won’t be hurt. Sy helped him when he was scared and unsure, and he wants to return the favour. He likes Sy, a lot, and Sy’s in a precarious position with his master slated for execution. Cashiel being who he is – very much besotted and in love with Sascha – buys Sy, even though he believes Sy fucked Sascha when they were in Leadview. He doesn’t like that because Sascha is his. Pissing competitions aside, it won’t hurt to have a bodyguard in such turbulent times, and this bodyguard is incredibly protective of Sascha. So Sy is added to the household. But Cashiel is sceptical of Sy and his motivations. He was a bodyguard for the 27th Street Gang for twelve years. His criminal background makes Cashiel apprehensive. He doesn’t see why Sy would have put himself on the line for Sascha at Leadview – and Sy does put his body on the line for Sascha – there must be another angle and he wants to know what that is. Sy is up-front with Sascha, kind of, letting him know it was business at first which turned to ‘friendship’. He comes completely clean to Cashiel – Cash is pretty…insistent – about why he initially protected Sascha and that deeper feelings have become involved. It’s definitely more than friendship. Sy is interesting in his acceptance of life. He always knew he would be Demoted and accepted that. He doesn’t believe Sascha should have been. He admires him for swapping places with his twin, Abriel. That Sascha is so young yet lived through torture as a brothel slave, and he’s still kind, gentle and trusting, adds to his appeal for the protective Sy. That Sascha and Sy are both Demoted gives Sascha a chance to talk to someone he cares for who is on an equal footing with him – at the end of the day, Cashiel owns Sascha, no matter how loving he is. Having Sy added to the Cashiel-Sasha relationship dynamic is a source of… passion in the Michaud household – both positive and negative.
- The powers-that-be bring pressure to bear on Cashiel and Sascha – the good looking master and his pretty slave – to attend interviews, lectures, talks and put the research and their case forward clearly to the public. There are vested interests involved and now the data is out there, they intend to see what popular opinion thinks. Is the Miller System able to be resurrected or can the new System win public opinion over? Cashiel is hungry for his research and business model to be accepted, and he wants to end his mother’s power over his life, his ideas, and his future. Even though the events they attend are inflammatory and aggressive, and deadly at times, Cashiel attends because he wants his System to succeed and because he also has little alternative once politics are brought into play.
- There are forces at work in the background to out more data than was originally intended for public consumption. Data that Cashiel and Sascha have been purposely withholding is mysteriously released causing some extra dissention. Is it Cashiel’s mother? It seems like her MO but she’s under a State mandated gag order, how could she get her hands on it? She is Kristine Miller though, always one step ahead of everyone else… with friends in very high places. Is it Oliver Torenze? If so, why would he have sat on data he could have leaked when Cashiel was detained? Is it the Argova family? They seem to want their not-so-legitimate business empire tied up with the ascending star of the Demoted System – Cashiel Michaud. So why would they be trying to sabotage him? The bottom line is there’s money to be made and power to be had so it could be anyone.
The third book in the Demoted trilogy, while still tense, isn’t as hardcore as the previous two. There is more sex in this book and an interesting ménage is introduced. Cashiel is my man. It’s funny how feelings change, when I started reading he was too aloof and clinical for me, but as the series progressed Cashiel won me over. I do love a flawed character. I also love the sweet and mouthy Sascha, if I was in his position I could not help myself but say something, so I understood how he could create problems. Sy was a very, very nice addition. Stoic, masculine, caring, uncomplicated, patient and loyal. Sy is very, very loyal. A quality of paramount importance in this time and place.
Succession is the most erotic book in the trilogy. There’s also a binding of threads but there are still questions for me. Does it detract from the overall appeal? No, it doesn’t. It was always a very character driven dystopian and the characters grew on me more than expected from book #1, Subjection. This has been an interesting journey. It may not have taken some of the turns I was hoping it would, but the trilogy made up for that in ways I wasn’t ever expecting – things I can’t say because I’ll spoil the book. The primary characters were strong. The secondary’s were equally as interesting – good or bad – whether they stayed for the ride or got off along the way. Cashiel and Sascha had me hoping for the best and as far as I’m concerned that’s what was delivered. That another party was added to the mix was fine by me and the character added was delicious. I honestly think Sy is a character most writers can only dream of popping into their mind, their writing. The Demoted is excellent darker reading for those, like me, who enjoy their gay erotic romance edgier. I sincerely hope that Alicia Cameron hasn’t finished here because there is a lot that could happen with these guys. She definitely has an excellent platform to expand further. However, if this is the end, if I must say goodbye, then I’m content with where/how it finished. 5 ‘Pretty Boy’ Stars!
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ARC supplied by the publisher in return for an honest review.