Review: He Is Worthy

He Is Worthy
He Is Worthy by Lisa Henry

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alea iacta est is one of the phrases most meaningful in this book. The die is cast . What does this mean? For slave Aenor renamed as Canis, it is the motivation for him to withstand horrible torture. For Patrician Novius Senna, it stands for a release and freedom he yearns to feel again.

Set during the Roman Empire, this story makes a reader question what really did happen during Nero's reign. My memory of Roman history is sketchy. I do remember Nero portrayed as a tyrannical emperor. I don't recall any of his allies or enemies. Regardless of actual history, Ms. Henry's version is interesting.

The sexual slavery involving, rape, hot pokers, knifeplay, castration, sissification to name a few were delightfully sadistic. Despite all these sexual torments, I'm hesitant to classify as a BDSM story. It's not exactly a BDSM fantasy. I think the difference for me this time compared with Ms. Henry's previous stories is the sadism did not turn me on. It wasn't twisted into a guilty depraved pressure. Instead, it was just sadism with very little kinky pleasure.

The romance part of this story is less sweet and more tart. Tart because despite the opposition in social standing, Senna and Aenor are connected with one bond. They are both worthy. They are worthy of love, honour and the determination to make a differences. This is truly a terrible situation which presents no easy way out. Death is the only way. As always, our hero is an anti-hero who is conflicted with what he knows is right but can not follow his ethics.

This trope in this tale is similar to a queen bee gone wrong. Nero is the queen bee who is egged on to behave badly. It proves a Chinese moral lesson - only your true friends will tell you the truth. Your enemies will only tell you what you want to hear with much flattery. Ms. Henry does an excellent job demonstrating this lesson.

The writing is vivid in people, places and action. I can see each of these places in the story. I can see visualize both Aenor and Senna talking and doing something at the same time. I can't quite put my finger on it, but Ms. Henry's books always play like a movie in my mind. It's rich with descriptions and hits on my sense of smell too. She never exposes the reader to detailed graphic in the brutal beatings, interrogations or rape, yet she gives enough for the reader to clearly see every action. I highly recommend this book to history buffs who enjoy non-con m/m romance.

*book provided by Netgalley*

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