Beulah is a perfect city in a world full of crime and poverty. Only select people are allowed to live in Beulah and they're all happy. Everything is beautiful, there is plenty of food and clean air and there is rarely crime. Rory has always wanted to live in Beulah and getting a job with a famous lawyer there seems like winning the lottery. Tate is also from the outside and he's desperate to feed his family so he sneaks in one day to try to steal some things for them. Here's where things get complicated.
While running from the police, Tate hit's Rory in his effort to escape. The punishment for crime in Beulah is to take the criminal and make him/her a servant of the one they committed the crime against. It is supposed to help them learn responsibility and to rehabilitate. Unfortunately no one tells them about the chip that will be put in their heads that will make them slaves against their will. They literally cannot tell their sponsors "no".
This is the point where the story gets complicated. And dark. Very, very dark. Tate's chip makes him beg Rory for anything he thinks would make Rory happy but Tate doesn't actually want to do any of these things. Poor Rory has no idea and thinks everything that happens between them is consensual. This book should come with a warning because there are a lot of non-consensual sexual episodes and some rapes (although no rapes w/the two main characters). I couldn't put this part of the book down. It was fast paced and I think the authors did a great job getting you to feel the horror that Tate was going through. I also felt so bad for Rory who was a good guy in a bad situation. The world that created was fascinating and kind of had a big brother/1984 feel to it.
I thought for the first 70% of the book or so that this would be a great, 5 star read for me. Unfortunately the last part just did not work for me at all. The first part was so complicated and dark and then all of a sudden there is this happy ending that came way too easy. There was an easy solution and easy forgiveness and neither of them I could buy. I was really disappointed in the relationship between the two MC's towards the end. I think it should have been much more detailed and more complex. Books that start really dark and then quickly jump to a sunshine and puppies ending never work for me and this one in particular was really not believable. I would have liked to see this book be longer and the last part focus, in much more detail, on how these two men put their lives back together. Unfortunately just an OK read for me.
They're always happy.
Rory James has worked hard all his life to become a citizen of the idyllic city-state of Beulah. Like every other kid born in the neighboring country of Tophet, he’s heard the stories: No crime or pollution. A house and food for everyone. It’s perfect, and Rory is finally getting a piece of it.
So is Tate Patterson. He’s from Tophet, too, but he’s not a legal immigrant; he snuck in as a thief. A city without crime seems like an easy score, until he crashes into Rory during a getaway and is arrested for assaulting a citizen. Instead of jail, Tate is enrolled in Beulah’s Rehabilitation through Restitution program. By living with and serving his victim for seven years, Tate will learn the human face of his crimes.
If it seems too good to be true, that’s because it is. Tate is fitted with a behavior-modifying chip that leaves him unable to disobey orders—any orders, no matter how dehumanizing. Worse, the chip prevents him from telling Rory, the one man in all of Beulah who might care about him, the truth: in a country without prisons, Tate is locked inside his own mind.
Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes: dubious consent / heavy kink / non-consent