~ Happy reading ~
Bliss is a book for mature readers!
This review contains Spoilers. I couldn't wind my way around this time. Sorry.
In Beulah everyone is happy. Beulah seems to be a perfect society. Everyone has a job; no one is starving or fighting for survival, no air pollution or pollution at all and nearly no crimes. Nearly.
Rory James is an outsider in Beulah. He is from the neighbour country Tophet. Tophet is a horrible place to live, full of crime, violence, and drug addicts. No wonder, Rory wants to get out and live in Beulah. Not everybody can, but Rory managed. He got brilliant grades at college and now he is allowed to settle down in Beulah. Rory feels like he won a place in paradise due to hard work. But the moment he sets foot into Beulah he gets a punch in his face. Someone has broken his nose. In nearly crimeless Beulah.
Tate Patterson is also from Trophet. He visited Beulah just for one thing. To take a bit of Beulah's wealth for his personal needs. He didn't thieve without a reason though. But Tate gets caught after he punched a stranger in the face which had been meant as a distraction.
Now Tate has to deal with his punishment. He can choose between the devil and the deep blue sea: a trial which could lead to a life sentence or seven years of service for the man he punched. After consulting his Beulahn lawyer he takes the seven years.
What Tate doesn't know: He will become a Rezzy. That means he gets a chip into his head which helps to fulfil his duty. The chip will keep his personality at bay and make him accomplish every demand he gets. Of course there are people in Beulah who know what Rezzies must do. But Tate will be happy fulfilling orders, even dehumanising or deviant ones. Because, in Beulah, everyone is happy. And Tate will be a prisoner in his own mind...
Well, as you might have guessed, Bliss is not a typical gay romance. My attempt to tell something about the story shows only the top of the iceberg. The things Tate is forced to do are gut wrenching – and being in Tate’s and Rory’s mind as the reader – you can literally feel what it is for him to be forced doing them.
Yeah, it’s not for the faint of heart this book by Heidi Belleau and Lisa Henry. Nonetheless I really loved the whole idea and, bless both authors; you get sucked into it in no time. I fell for Tate first. Yes, he might be a thief and you don’t know at first why he is, but he is a strong character who normally doesn’t take shit from anyone. And he fights against the chip. Without much hope of succeeding but he doesn’t give up. I loved him for that. And I loved how he could get comfort form the little things and saw Rory for what he was.
Rory annoyed me a bit at first. Not, that he thought Beulah was kind of paradise, but that he believed everything they told him there. I mean, seriously, how can one punch in a face be worth a punishment of seven years? Rory is smart and from the outside. He should have suspected something was off earlier. But he gets it finally and he really falls for Tate which was sweet to see.
When he discovers the truth he nearly tears himself to pieces over his guilt. Yes, he did some wrong things but I could understand why he did them. Rory tried to understand Tate and he definitely couldn’t know what Tate really wanted because he couldn’t decipher the mixed signals he got from him. When Rory discovers the truth about Beulah he starts to fight against its system – immediately. And I loved him for that.
Bliss was a tough read but one I enjoyed a lot. To be honest the story got me feeling and thinking so much that I needed to take some reading breaks from time to time. But I always came back and finished it with joy.
I can’t tell you, if both authors wrote one of the POVs. Or which part of the story was written by whom. It felt as if made from one piece and that is a compliment in its own.
I didn’t mind that the focus was not at all times on the romance. I wouldn’t expect it from a dystopian novel- slash or het or whatever. And to see them both fighting for the other, for the happiness of someone else before their own, is one of the most romantic things I can think of.
One last thing about the title. It’s an absolute gorgeous title for this story. Though it’s a contradiction, Bliss really tells a story about the caricature of its meaning and about its meaning.
The book will be published tomorrow (18th of August).
*** I received a free ARC from Riptide Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ***