[This is the text of the book review from episode 47.]
This episode’s book review is The Reunion by Laura Antoniou. As mentioned in the previous episode, this book is 640 pages long, by far the longest book in The Marketplace series. Thus far. I will be checking book length from now on so I know what I’m getting myself into.
The Marketplace is a world-wide, international organisation that helps people fulfil their dreams of total slavehood by training them then auctioning them off to serve owners—people who also get to live out their desires of owning a human being, but consensually. There are spotters, slave trainers, people who train the trainers, I believe there are people who train owners and, of course, the slaves themselves.
And, oh, are there a variety of types of slaves. Chambermaids, pleasure slaves, slaves who are nannies, butlers, slaves who are in place to train the other slaves in a house. Oh, the slaves you’ll know.
Each book examines a different aspect of the Marketplace.
So, we’re up to the fifth book in the series—this review will not contain spoilers.
Reunions are yearly gatherings for slaves and former slaves of the Marketplace held in five star resorts all over the world.
This particular year, the reunion is being held at Kayleigh Castle, in Ireland. At its name would suggest—it’s a castle. Massive thing it is, too. On sprawling grounds with a lake, golf course, stables—the works.
Attendees are not confined to the grounds, though. A van is at their disposal to visit other castles—for trips to the local village for shopping, meals or whatever else they’d like to do.
During reunions, resorts are given over entirely to Marketplace guests so no one has to worry about people not in-the-know overhearing a conversation or… screaming, as the castle and its staff is prepared to provide implements and supplies for a variety of uses at any time of the day or night. Some members are prepared to provide themselves for use, as well.
For Kayleigh is staffed by Marketplace slaves—Chris Parker trained there very early in his career, in fact—as well as soft world people. ‘Soft world’ is what non-Marketplace people are called in the universe of the books.
It’s an intriguing prospect—regular humans who know how a human consensual slave trade works and who work alongside it, but who don’t say anything.
Funny you should bring it up!
While our guests are relaxing and reminiscing about the good ol’ days—and I’ll get to that herd of people in a moment—a pond scum journalist named Nigel Pepper is doing his level best to break the story of the sex slave trade.
Someone on the inside claims to have information—they’ve been sending him dribs and drabs—enough to help him get some photographs of what appears to be one motley assortment of humanity, but nothing really concrete. What he needs to do is get inside that castle.
You can imagine what kind of security this sort of function has, though. These people aren’t idiots.
On to the motley assortment of humanity.
The reason this book is so long is because it has a cast of thousands. And it’s written in first person omniscient, which means you can hear everyone’s thoughts. I give Antoniou credit for being able to capture an incredible array of voices. Her command of human psychology is masterful.
I didn’t make notes on the characters involved so let’s see how many I can recall…
The story starts with everyone getting on the plane to go to Ireland or arriving at the airport or some such thing. The Reunion itself lasts a week and the book is broken into days.
There’s the ever-present Chris Parker. He says his age this time—he’s thirty-eight! Oh! I thought he was older than I am, but he seems so mature. Per usual, we learn more about him and his story. How the hell old is he in the first book? This makes me want to make a wiki of the Marketplace world, because I have all the time to do this. I found a wiki, but it hasn’t been updated in awhile and isn’t very complete.
Anyway, also present is Robin—the protagonist from book two—The Slave. She’s got some heavy things on her mind since spoilery things have happened in her contract.
A new character, who quickly became one of my all-time favourites is Billy-Ray—a red-headed, Southerner who isn’t the most refined human being but wants to help everyone he meets. He has a thing for black guys. This is important. Antoniou nails his accent. Billy-Ray is a kind of slave that hasn’t been mentioned in any of the previous books—there’s always something new to learn.
Desmond is being forced to take a holiday by his owners and he’s not happy about it. Mister Mopey-Pants gripes, complains and pouts for days. He’s an angry guy over his situation back home. Billy-Ray likes him, though, and is determined to help him out. He’s also very keen to have sex with the guy.
There’s Lisa and Richard. They’ve brought their children along (this is a families-allowed reunion). The kids spend a great deal of the time off with the other children in the Druid’s club, playing games and going on adventures and being none-the-wiser what their parents are up to.
Richard is an ex-slave who served for one contract and Lisa runs a group for spouses of slaves. Desmond isn’t the only person with a less-than-rosy view of the Marketplace and slavedom. As the week wears on, the reader (and everyone there) begins to wonder why the ever-loving hell Richard decided to come on this vacation. His wife is equally baffled, as his behaviour is unusual.
Their daughter, Amy, is eleven and Antoniou gets the mercurial whims of an eleven year old girl who has no one her exact age to talk to so pitch perfect it made me laugh while also making me want to strangle the girl. Sakes alive.
Tequila! Tequila is a former LAPD cop who is now a slave who works as a security guard. She’s black, she’s butch, she’s not taking any shit from anyone. Lord almighty do I love Tequila.
Oh god. The scroll of other guests has just unfurled in my mind… I don’t have the strength. There are fewer characters in Middle Earth. And they all have their own motivations and voices.
Lucretia… I can’t say anything without spoiling a lot, but Lucretia is memorable. Chandra—a pleasure slave here to fix to world… and would probably succeed. Gladys. I like Gladys. Al and Lloyd. One is a former slave, the other is soft world, but they were both in the leather scene and look back on those days fondly. And more.
And we haven’t done downstairs—the people who work at Kayleigh and the Marketplace slaves in training. There’s about a dozen of those, as well.
Mr Blake—who trained Chris and is responsible for the newest crop.
Azziz—the staff (non-Marketplace) who’s around all the time even though he certainly doesn’t have to be. Makes one wonder if he really wants to be a slave or what.
Mackenzie—the female butler assigned to Chris during his stay (Azziz is assigned to Chandra, the pleasure slave). Upright and a perfectionist—I hope to see more of Mackenzie in future instalments.
Rosie—she feels she’s in competition with MacKenzie (though that’s not how it works) and finds herself wanting. She’s been sent to Kayleigh for specific instruction in certain areas by her trainers, Lord and Lady Southerby.
And now we’re on to those two.
Phillip and Angelique Southerby are young but outstanding London-based trainers. They are being courted by the Regents (something I can’t recall being mentioned in previous books). The Regents are sort of an exclusive club of trainers. In order to be in the group a person has to be trained for a couple years or more by someone already in the club.
There are no regents in Britain and it would be quite the coup to bring these two on board. So that’s one of Chris’s jobs while he’s there. Because the man is incapable of completely relaxing for an entire week.
To tie things up a little—that Nigel Pepper guy has stalked the Southerby’s on other occasions—getting photos of Lady Southerby (an American, the horror!) topless—she has a nipple ring! Scandal!
So he’s extra intrigued by seeing Phil chatting to Chris. It only makes him more determined to get his story.
That’s the basics. Really—there’s much more to say.
There’s one rather extended—several pages long—section that covers something we don’t talk about as a culture. When I was reading the section I thought, ‘What the fuck are you doing, Antoniou?’ But then, when she revealed the last card, as it were, I thought, ‘You clever bitch. That is going to get some people.’ Some people reading that section are going to have to confront some hard truths about themselves and how they view the world.
Antoniou doesn’t shy away from difficult topics or complex issues that people in the kink community deal with—what turns people on isn’t always politically correct and that stirs up some heavy emotions. This book is not purely wank fodder—though there is certainly something for everyone to get their knickers off for. Or to. Except maybe furries—I don’t think she’s covered that yet.
This book isn’t just about hot, kinky sex. It also examines race, feminism, gender identity, ageing, probably other things I can’t recall because I wasn’t expecting all that in erotica and didn’t make notes.
The Reunion is definitely the most thought-provoking of the Marketplace books and possibly the most intellectually-stimulating erotica you’ll read.
It’s certainly the most well-written I’ve read thus far.
You could probably read this one out of order of the series, but I wouldn’t recommend it. There are things that happen in the other books that set up events in this one (and the other books are excellent, as well).
An enthusiastic 5/5.