Runaway Heart by Thom Lane is a dark, sometimes disturbing erotic romance that lived within my thoughts long after I finished the book. I've never read anything by Mr. Lane and was very anxious to read something written by him. Although I have mixed feelings about this book, I'm really glad I did read it because I did like the author's creative world building and voice of the slave, Finn. I'll be first to admit that I like to read romances that have interesting characters with a heavy happy ending. I like heroes that aren't perfect, but always seem to have redeeming qualities about them, that make me care for them and their outcome in the end. In Runaway Heart, I did find such a man in Finn.
Finn was born a slave, therefore, he's well-trained and used to being punished when his attitude and behavior isn't up to his master's expectations. At the tender age of twenty or so, he is unable to take the abuse given to him from his Master, the Baron, and runs away deep into the forest. He's been able to survive by sheer will and creative thinking for several weeks when he sees another man running for his life from the Baron's estate. Finn mistakenly thinks this man is another slave, so he helps the man escape and hide in the cave where he's presently dwelling. Too soon, Finn realizes he's mistaken about the man's identity, and comes to see that this man, Marc, just a man who is trying to escape from the Baron because he, on a drunken bet, agreed to steal something valuable from the Baron's estate. Finn longs to be a free man, but soon realizes that Marc has intentions of being his new Master, and he once again becomes a slave for Marc, even though he has several opportunities to escape.
Marc can't believe his good luck at being found and rescued by the young Finn. He's immediately drawn to the smaller man, and in no time claims him and makes him his own personal slave. They somehow manage to escape to Marc's home and Marc sets on training Finn to be the slave he wants him to be. But, the Baron has no intention of letting his favorite slave and the man who dared to steal from him escape and be free of him and his cruelty. Will Marc and Finn survive the Baron's evil wrath?
Runaway Heart is told in a first person's narrative. It alternates from Marc and Finn's point of view throughout the book. Even though I'm not a fan of first person in romance, I did enjoy the story seeing it through both Finn and Marc's point of view. It's a well written story, which has some graphic images and violence that some readers may not care for. But, for all of its violence, there are also some very tender moments between Finn and Marc that I really enjoyed and savored throughout the novel.
I usually enjoy the BDSM/Master-Slave themed homoerotic romances, but I admit I'm on the fence with this one. In some ways I really liked it. I enjoyed the descriptive characters and dark angsty story that the author told. There were times I really thought Marc and Finn connected on a deeper level than just Master/slave dynamics that these characters had together. It was very obvious that Marc did have some affectionate feelings for Finn, but there were other times I found him being almost cruel to him. He definitely disregarded his feelings most of the time, but there were other times, he was affectionately tolerant of Finn's willful behavior.
I think my problem with the book was I did not see many redeeming qualities with Marc's character. He's a drunk, gambler and all around wastrel. He openly admits to gambling away his fortune and in my opinion, he has no intention of ever changing that behavior. There were times I wanted sweet Finn to escape Marc's clutches and find someone who could be a more loving and stable Master for him, but of course, he does not.
Ironically, the one thing that makes me unsure of how I feel about the book is also the one thing I liked about it. Marc and Finn do not have the white picket fence, nor probably will they ever have. Marc is definitely no Prince Charming and he's probably going to always have his not-so-healthy addictions to live with. I'm giving this book four stars because it read fresh and unique in many ways, mainly because Marc is definitely NOT a perfect man/hero. He's flawed; bad behaviored and most likely will be so for the rest of his life. I also adored Finn and enjoyed reading his point of view throughout the book.
Needless to say, I do not recommend this book if you are looking for the typical cookie cutter romance. BUT, if you are looking for a darker and more realistic hero and some heavy angst paired along with a sweet and loveable hero, then this story will be definitely for you.
Runaway Heart is the fourth book in the Tales of Amaranth series. Here are the books listed in series order:
I'm definitely intrigued by Mr. Lane's storytelling abilities and plan on reading the other books to see where Mr. Lane's creative imagination will take me next.
On a drunken bet, Marc broke into Baron Thiviers’ mansion to steal something precious. Discovered and almost caught, he’s being hunted by the baron and his hounds when Finn, the runaway slave boy, saves his life. Marc claims possession of Finn, to redeem that foolish bet--what’s more precious than a beautiful boy? But his so-called friends reject him, and the baron comes after him relentlessly, so he takes the boy and flees again.
Yet it’s Finn the baron can track, by means of renegade magic, and in the end, Finn has no choice. He runs from the new young master he’s come to love and confronts the chasing baron, sacrificing himself to save Marc’s life. Except that Marc too is in love, and so comes after his errant boy, throwing his own life into danger yet again.
Publisher's Note: This book contains explicit sexual content, graphic language, and situations that some readers may find objectionable: strong BDSM theme and elements, male/male sexual practices, master/slave dynamic.
Series: Tales of Amaranth; Previous Book: Hidden Heart