Dana reviews Caged: Love and Treachery on the High Seas (Baal’s Heart Book 1) by Bey Deckard. (Published February 11, 2014, 423 pages. Released on audio November 8, 2016. Listening time 13 hours 55 minutes. Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo) An ebook copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this: Though an ebook copy was provided when I saw this book was released in audio narrated by one of my favorite narrators, I decided to review that version. When I decided to start listening, I didn’t know it would be fitting for this weeks theme of “out of comfort zone,” but it definitely had moments that were uncomfortable and the timing ended up perfect for the review. .
Blurb: Sheltered and lonely, Jon’s life changes drastically when a strange ship sails into the harbor of his small port town one day. Trapped between the possessive pirate captain and his murderous first mate, he must learn to adapt or he will lose himself completely. An epic tale of love, treachery and revelation, this first instalment of the Baal’s Heart series brings you into the lives of three men so bound together by jealousy and lies that they must sail to the very ends of the earth to find forgiveness.
It’s important for me to get out that just because I am labeling this book as out of my comfort zone doesn’t mean that it isn’t really well written or that I didn’t really like it. Because I was drawn into this book and hooked by the story even while I was a little bit disgusted by some things that happened. I’ll admit that some of the enjoyment might be because of the narrator who I really enjoy. His voice is pleasant, and his accents in this book were really well done. He voiced the characters each in different tones, so it was never hard to distinguish whose thoughts and words were being spoken.
This book starts by introducing us to Jon. His existence is dreary. His only family is a stepfather who doesn’t care about him.and Jon is in poor health. He has a gift of intuition though, and that brings him to the attention of a visiting pirate. Baltsaros figures he can use a man like Jon in his dealings and kidnaps him. Jon isn’t convinced he wants to help villainous pirates but with nothing at home for him, he ends up deciding to set sail with Baltsaros and his first mate/lover Tom.
Baltsaros and Tom have a complicated relationship. There is an element of BDSM between them and a semi-taboo connection. I don’t shy away from most taboo subjects so that is not what left me feeling uncomfortable. The captain and first mate are also cold blooded killers. They are ruthless in battle and murderous when not in battle. Baltsaros takes pleasure in the kill and some superstitious customs are down right gut turning.
For all the negatives I see in the two men, their treatment of Jon is endearing. Tom isn’t an instant convert and his actions nearly get Jon killed. But when push comes to shove he ends up caring for Jon along with the captain who changes a lot of his ways for him. It’s not a painless process though and sometimes it is hard for Baltsaros to really engage emotionally with Jon or Tom. The three men have been broken by events of their past, but when they come together it is unbelievably hot.
Though I’ve talked a lot about the relationships between the three men, this story holds a lot more action and adventure. A storm at sea endangers the crew. Retaliation at the hands of Jon’s stepfather leads to a large battle. A trip to a brothel shows that Baltsaros and Jon aren’t necessarily only attracted to men, and that they both have a little bit of a jealous streak. Lines are blurred at some points between consensual and non-consensual BDSM. There was a lot of content in the 400 plus pages, some romance but mostly action that you’d expect to read about in a novel about pirates. I ended up feeling very intrigued by the story and was disappointed to find myself at the end. It is obvious there is more to the story as this ends as more of an HFN.
The personal lesson I ended up getting from reading this story is that people should definitely try books that are outside of what they usually read. Discomfort at certain parts of a story can have absolutely no effect on how engaging a story is and how well it is written. I definitely want to check out next books in this series and definitely recommend it.
8.5/10 Pots of Gold (85% Recommended) – Compares to 4.25/5 Stars
Artist, Writer, Dog Lover – http://www.beydeckard.com
Born and raised in a small coastal town in northern Québec, Bey spent his early summers on his uncle’s boat and running wild on the beaches of the surrounding islands, lighting fires and building huts out of driftwood and fishermen’s nets. As an adult, he eventually made his way to university and earned a degree in Art History with a strong focus on Anthropology. Primarily a portrait painter and graphic artist, Bey sat down one day and decided to start writing.
Bey currently lives in the wilds of Montréal with his best buddy, a ridiculous, spotty pit bull named Murphy.