Odyssey by Sophie Kisker
Series: Finding Home #1
Source: Review by Request
Copy provided by the Author
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What would you do if you were torn away from your home and family, chosen by lottery to become a public symbol of the defeat of your people? To be put on display by the victor as a symbol of his power? To enter a world of service – of domination and submission – of pleasure and punishment?
When Liz Peltier becomes a mere pawn in an old political game, she must struggle to answer these questions for herself. She must reconcile her thoroughly modern self with the growing realization that her deepest fulfillment comes when she is on her knees. And when she finds that the people who are holding her may not actually be the enemy, she realizes it might just be possible for her to find happiness in the midst of tragedy.
Should she fight her feelings, or choose to embrace them?
Come follow Liz on her odyssey – from fear to love, and from heartache to home.
*This book contains adult themes that not every reader will enjoy, including difficult situations that our heroine must overcome, lots of spankings, some anal sex, nice doses of consensual sexual service, and a really hot Master who doesn’t always know a good thing even when it’s right in front of him
Buy this Book:
Pull on your Big Girl panties and get ready for something different.
This is the kind of story which sticks with you long after you’ve finished.
“…The difference between a slave who surrenders because she gives up in despair and a slave who submits because she finds contentment in the role is not how hard you beat her! It’s helping her find out that she can endure and learn and submit without losing herself. She can take pride in the pleasure she can give to others. That comes with encouragement, and praise, and seeing them as people, not as objects to break, even as you teach them to embrace the pain and endure the unendurable”
This is not a “dark” read – it exists in shades of grey… I’m quite surprised to admit that I’m unable to easily classify this book… The erotic element is more than prevalent – but it also crosses genres in a way that keeps the reader on their toes. There is a great deal of political maneuvering, and a world which is similar but not exactly like our own…
Let’s go ahead and get the obvious stuff out of the way, shall we?
This is not a romance – I haven’t read the rest of the series so I don’t know if it evolves into something romantic in later books. There’s certainly a feeling of acceptance, respect, and family which evolve throughout the story but there’s no way this can be classified as romantic. This is more about one woman’s journey to find herself after having her freedom yanked away from her.
This is not a light-hearted read – It contains all kinds of situations and circumstances that will have you considering how you would handle yourself if faced with the same obstacles.
It is rape-y – Rape is not a predominant theme, and Liz’s status as a sex slave is built on training. She does not interact with her Masters with the goal of serving their pleasure until she willingly accepts her place.
That being said, any time someone is handled sexually while saying “no” and while unable to defend themselves… Well, that’s rape – I call ’em like I see ’em. Those of you who read my reviews regularly know that I have no problem reading non-con or dub-con stories. I’d say that this is pretty tame on that front, but readers need to be aware that the theme exists within the story before embarking on this journey…
And I do mean journey…
Sophie Kisker takes us on a hell of a ride with this book. It was a slow burn – the pacing made it clear that this narrative was intended to be carried into multiple books (three from what I understand) though we are left with a “happily-for-now” ending. The reader is left pondering what will happen for Liz, but we’re not faced with a rough cliffhanger.
This is a society quite similar to modern Western Culture – yet the land is divided into city-states with elaborate political structures and rivalries. One such rivalry between neighboring lands meant that a prisoner of war situation had to be drafted in order to bring closure and ensure that there would be no more escalation in hostilities. The victor was to take a young woman from the loser’s country to serve as a symbol of defeat.
“…You have one job for the next two years. It’s a job Palm gave you, not Chairman Weiss. That job is to kneel at Weiss’s feet and look pretty when he entertains visiting dignitaries. You are, as of this morning, living proof that Chancellor Palm isn’t man enough to protect his own women. Maybe you can find some satisfaction in that idea.”
Liz is smart and defiant, she watched and observed with a keen eye, yet she was more than aware of her situation and the possible consequences of outward defiance… I liked her character immediately, and I couldn’t help but root for her throughout her increasingly difficult circumstances.
She was a college student in the oppressive dictatorship of Edwal. She was unwittingly chosen as a political pawn – forced to kneel at the feet of Daniel Weiss, Chairman of Alaine. She was meant to serve two years as a sex slave in the Chairman’s estate – a shining jewel to remind everyone of David’s power over the enemy.
She did not roll over and accept her new fate…
She did not crumble…
She chooses to move forward with her training…
Nearly all of the Masters we meet are fair and kind. Daniel, the head of the house is rarely seen in comparison to the other characters, and I admit I got a case of the ickys when I realized that he had a daughter about the same age as Liz. Whatever your feelings on the age-gap might be, Daniel was kind, and he was not the primary Master.
“So, here we are. You, with no choice but to be here, and me, with the task of helping you accept it anyway. We have to figure out a way to move forward, because there’s no going back. There is no changing the circumstances, much as you would like to.”
Master Ryan is a slave trainer. In this world, it is quite common for women to become sex slaves rather than serving time in prison. There aren’t any sexual taboos in Alaine, and seeing a sex slave at her Master’s feet isn’t an uncommon sight.
Ryan is quite conscious of the fact that Liz did not become a slave by choice. He has never had to train a slave who didn’t willingly step into the roll, and the fact that Liz’s homeland of Edwal was sexually oppressed (as well as politically) means her transition into this life will be more difficult than usual.
Master Ryan was a fun and intriguing character. The occasional glimpses into his mind were lovely to read. His general attitude kept this story from slipping into something much darker.
I was extremely pleased to meet the other slaves in the household. The group of women there had a warm camaraderie – it was more like a family than anything else. They weren’t catty and there was no competition or jealousy. That particular aspect of the book was fabulous! All of the support Liz was receiving made this story much more about how she handled a loss of freedom.
But don’t worry, the D/s themed sexytimes were there in spades!
Over the course of the book, Liz learns how to find peace in submission. She endures an array of creative punishments which blend pain and pleasure…
I was quite happy with the story. I’m more than surprised that this is the author’s debut work – it is obvious that a great deal of talent went into this story. The usual awkward hallmarks of a debut author were completely absent from this book. It was well written and thoroughly original.
Ryan is explaining the rules to Liz as he drives her to the estate of her new Master, The Chairman of Alaine Province.
“Is this clear?”
“No. No no no no!” She started frantically yanking on the chains. “No! Let me out of here. I’m going home! You can’t make me stay, you can’t make me call you Sir and you sure as hell are not my Master!” She kept yanking at the chains, but with the seat belt over her arms she couldn’t move much at all. She was hysterical by now.
“I will not ever take my clothes off for you and if anyone tries to touch me I will… I will…”
“You will what?”
She said nothing.
“Please, tell me so I know what body part to protect.”
The comment was so unexpected that she actually choked back a laugh in the midst of her sobbing.
They were both silent for a mile or so.
“It doesn’t really matter, does it,” she whispered eventually, “because I have no control any more. You’re going to do anything you want to me and I won’t be able to stop you.”
“Liz, you’re a slave now. What I want to do is train you to live with your new reality, and maybe even come to find some things you enjoy.”
“Please, just let me die now. Death is better than this.” There was no life in her voice.
“What?!” He suddenly braked hard and pulled off the road; the car behind honked angrily and swerved around them.
“Liz! Look at me!” he commanded. She refused, even as he took her chin and turned it towards him.
“Or what?!” she screamed at him, wrenching her chin out of his hand. “Or you’ll rape me until I do?”
He stared at her in shocked silence. He felt the fear trembling in her small frame, and it dawned on him what she must be referring to.
“Is that what happens in Edwal?” he asked softly. “When women go into slavery? Do you think I would let someone rape you to get you to obey me?”
She nodded, one short, sharp nod.
“Liz, I will never let any one rape you. Do you understand? That’s not how slavery works in Alaine.” He saw her take a breath, and maybe relax the tiniest bit.
“Yes, you will be a sex slave. There are other kinds of slavery here, but as a hostage slave you’re the symbol of Daniel Weiss’ defeat over Elias Palm, kind of a ‘spoils of war’, and tradition holds that you be prominently on display in his household.”
She was trembling again.
“But we never – ever – use rape to force you to obey. There are strict rules about caring for you and the chairman is rigid in enforcing them. That’s why you’re at his estate and not somewhere else. You’ll never lack for food or medical care and we will watch you very carefully.”
“Drugs?” she whispered.
“Drugs?” he asked in confusion. “As in, to control you?”
“Never. Ever. If I ever found out drugs were being used by someone to control you, that person would be lucky if all I did was kill them slowly. The chairman feels the same way, too. Liz, my job – our job – is to help you accept slavery and your place in it. Not break you so that you’re never the same.”
She still hadn’t looked up.
“I won’t kid you; you have a lot to learn before life gets easier. Chairman Weiss has high expectations for all his slaves. There are rules, lots of them, and behaviors you’ll be expected to show. There will be punishments if and when you disobey. But you’re not looking at two years of horror, I promise. Master Thomas and I are going to be the villains sometimes, and the ones who punish you; we’ll also be your biggest cheerleaders because I have a feeling you can accomplish anything we put in front of you. And Liz, every slave I’ve ever worked with and Master Thomas has ever worked with is proud of what she’s done and who she is as a person when she leaves. None of them have ever been broken. I promise.”
He watched her face for another minute, and when she gave no response, he shook his head, put the car in gear and pulled back onto the road, not sure what else he could do to help her. By now the October sun had disappeared behind the horizon and it was getting hard to see her face.
An Interview with Sophie Kisker:
Sell your book in five words or less:
Enslave – Despair – Acceptance – Betrayal – Love
What was the spark of inspiration which led to this book?
How did you come up with the character, Liz Peltier?
A long time ago, I had a fantasy about what it would be like to have to agree to be a slave to hide from someone who was trying to murder me. That become Sanctuary – Book 2. In that book, there was a character named Liz. I loved her so much I went back and wrote her story, and that became Odyssey.
Only those who have read this book will understand the significance, but we’re compelled to ask the most important question… Do you like spinach?
Um, yes. Yes, I do. A lot.
What kind of research did you do to prepare for writing this book?
Does reading boatloads of erotica count? I did have to learn a lot about world-building. It’s fun but tough to invent your own rules for your own society – and then live by them.
What is your favorite quote or moment from this story?
Master Ryan is trying to explain to Liz why he became a slave trainer as she looks at him in disbelief:
“Yes, I like training slaves. I like helping a woman find the strength within herself to surrender her will to the will of others, to find the joy in serving, to learn to endure. Those lessons will stay with her for the rest of her life. The sight of a woman on her knees, surrendering herself – well, I think there is nowhere a more fascinating sight. There’s a grace and a beauty that radiates from her that’s like poetry, and if I can help bring that out of her, I’m a lucky man.”
If you were offered the chance to turn this book into a Hollywood movie, would you take that opportunity?
If they offered me enough money to make it worth losing my job, hell yes!
What can we look forward to next with this series?
More sexual torments, deepening political intrigue, more reasons to hate the bad guy, and lots of love.
Sophie Kisker on Writing:
How long have you known you wanted to be an author?
Only about four years.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was a fictional account of a woman who wanted a “Taken in Hand” relationship. I wrote it for my husband but never gave it to him.
How do you keep your creativity flowing?
By ignoring everything else around me that needs attention, unfortunately. And by reading other authors when my own well runs a little dry.
How long did it take for you to write this book?
About six months to write, on and off, and then I posted it on Literotica chapter by chapter over about six months, revising as I went. And then I acquired an editor and revised again for about six months. (The day job slows me down).
What advice do you have for new authors? Is there anything you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?
Not everyone is going to like what you write – but you’d be surprised how many people will. The best thing a new author can do is find a group of like-minded people who will support you when you feel like hitting the “delete all” button. Contact other authors to ask questions – I messaged authors on FB when I had questions about their stories and I have gotten several good friends from there. Post your first stories on Literotica – and stiffen your spine – but there will be lots of people who like what you write and give you great feedback. I met my three best friends there.
How do you deal with bad reviews? Any advice for other authors in that regard?
To be honest, I don’t deal well with bad reviews. I obsess over them. I got some doozies on Literotica when I started – “misogynist”, “betrayer of women”, “just plain sick in the head”. I came very close to giving up, until a few loyal fans begged me to continue.
What additional projects are you working on?
I’m hoping to be part of the third anthology put out by a group called “The Erotic Collective” and led by author Tara Crescent. The first two anthologies are amazing!
Sophie Kisker on Reading:
What is the latest book you’ve bought and read?
Wanting It All by Livia Grant
What was the last book you absolutely fell in love with?
It actually hasn’t been published yet. It’s called “The Last Tritan” and it’s on Literotica in the non-consent section by the author “Waterburn” (aka Myra Danvers).
Is there a book you keep meaning to read, but haven’t gotten around to it? Don’t worry, we all have ridiculously long TBRs!
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood — the latest Jamie and Claire book by Diana Gabaldon.
Do you recall the first piece of Erotica you ever read?
Beauty’s Punishment by Anne Rice. It took me a year to work up the nerve to buy it in the bookstore in college.
Do you have a favorite Book Boyfriend/Girlfriend?
I would really, really, like to get to know ( and be trained by) Master Ryan from Odyssey.
Sophie Kisker on Play Time:
When you’re not hard at work writing, what do you do with your time?
I like to sew – dresses, and uniforms for work.
What’s the first thing on your Bucket List?
Honestly, it’s getting my autistic son through school and independent. Once that happens, I’ll consider what else I’d like to do.
Do you have any pets?
One very fat cat name Houdini.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
Duncan Hines Homestyle Vanilla Frosting. With a spoon. 😉
Favorite Swear Word?
About the Author:
Nurse by day, writing recluse by night, Sophie first published her 10-minute-fantasy-turned-into-3-novels on Literotica. After a ton of encouragement from her fellow writers there, and months of editing, she ventured out into the light with those first three books. She loves to explore the psychology of submission and dominance, delve into her character’s minds, and make them imperfect people who sometimes have apologize for mistakes. Even big bad Doms.
There is a lot more to her books than just sex, though; she knows that if she can’t write a juicy plot that holds the reader’s interest then the book isn’t worth publishing.
She lives in Minnesota with her very patient husband and son.