Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post about Sophie Kisker’s Midrosian Chronicles. Well, today her latest book came out, Tears of Surrender. It’s the final book of this series and it’s the most intense book of the series, IMO. The story winds through both Memories and Longings and gives us some peeks into those stories. Then it nicely winds up the whole story of the women of Midros.
When I say intense, I mean it. There was a point in time when I had to walk away from the book for a couple of hours to process how I felt about it and deal with my feelings. There have been very few books that I’ve had to do that with. To me, that is a great thing and means that the book is pretty awesome. I still have Parin and Mercer living in my head a couple of days after I read it, which is also a pretty awesome thing if you ask me. And so, on to the review.
Tears is the story of Parin Denos. It opens up 3 years prior to Memories. Parin was raised on Prima, with her parents, who died when she was 7. She vaguely remembers her mother telling her to never go to Midros. When she’s adult, her company is contacted by the Midrosian government to see if a product they sell would work for them. On Midros, when women come onto the planet, they have to wear a temporary collar and their DNA is routinely run through databases.
Parin’s company declines the offer to sell their product to the Midrosian government. In walks government officials from the slavery board. They tell Parin that she is a runaway slave. To her knowledge, she has never been on Midros before. However, it comes out that her parents were Midrosian, with her father owning her mother, before they escaped when Parin was two. With the Midrosian law, as held up by the galaxy wide authorities, once a Midrosian slave, always a Midrosian slave. Women who escape, and their female children who escape with them, are still slaves. Thus, Parin is an escaped slave.
The authorities drag Parin away to get her ready for her auction. She’s locked in a cell, has to endure a humiliating and punishing exam by a doctor to assess her health and her sexual capabilities, and is bathed, where she’s taught another brutal lesson by guards. Then she’s chained up and gagged so that the men who will be at the auction can inspect her, along with all the other slaves for sale.
The man who buys her, Edar Pennis, is a horrible, brutal, sadistic man, and on a planet of men who are sadistic, that is saying something. He swears to break her, but he really has no idea of what he’s doing. He has her shoved into a cage, covered up and transported. When they get to his house, he has his guards dump her out onto the driveway, and attaches a collar to her which will put poison in her system whenever it’s triggered. And being the terrible man he is, I bet you can figure out what happens with that.
Edar does lots of horrible things to her, including locking her in a hole in the dark. The final straw for Parin is that he takes her out to the garden, has her put in a hole where she has to stand on a small block which isn’t anchored on anything, and then puts two boards around her neck, so that only her head is above ground, and leaves her there. If she falls, then she hangs by her neck. Which she consciously decides to do, Edar has driven her to suicide.
In walks Mercer. And from here, there are going to be spoilers and commentary. I loved this book, I identified so much with Parin and I felt her distress and stress so much. I know I say this for a lot of books, but I really recommend this. I can’t tell you how much I recommend this. I want to give this like 11/10 stars. It is just that amazing.
OK, a note before we get into the spoilers. In Midros, there is no legal way to rape a woman. If she is your slave, she can’t tell you no. She’s property, and property can’t say no, I mean, it’s not like a chair can tell you no that it doesn’t want you to sit on it. It’s the chair’s job to have someone sit on it. If someone else has sex with your slave without your permission, it’s theft of services, not rape. A woman who grew up on Midros would understand this concept, since it was what she grew up with and had been trained to expect and to do. Parin, however, doesn’t have that same understanding. She grew up as a free woman, with the expectation of bodily autonomy. She is upset that she’s going to be raped but Edar explains to her that no, it’s not rape, it can’t be rape. I think that’s one of the things that is the hardest for Parin to get used to in her slavery. And Edar, well, he’s an asshole, and he doesn’t do anything to make it easier on her.
Mercer Pennis is Edar’s son. He wants to be a lawyer, his father wants him to take over the mining business. There is a younger son, Jacen, but he makes his father look tame. At one point, he has his slave Dara’s vagina and vulva sewed almost all the way shut, because he prefers anal sex and wants her to be an anal only slave. However, because he’s messy, he still manages to get her pregnant, with a girl. He was going to sell her off, but Parin convinces Mercer to get her instead. Dara eventually runs away, and ends up in the same escaped slave enclave as Enna from Longings, and is able to be with her daughter, off planet.
Mercer starts out as a prat and I really don’t like him all of the time. He sees Parin as 3 holes and 2 tits to be used when he wants. Now, I have to give him some leeway, since he’s never dealt with a free woman before, but I think he doesn’t always take that into consideration with Parin. Yeah, he’s trying to teach her how to be a slave and how to survive the world she’s living in, but, still.
However, as they are together, he does start to change and realizes he loves Parin and she is more than a collection of body parts. He even lets her help him out at his business, since he has problems with math and Parin is an accountant. Without her help, he wouldn’t have been able to clean up his business as well.
To me, one of the more horrific scenes with Mercer is the scene where he decides to breed her. The way that it is done is that they go to a clinic, Mercer provides sperm and a doctor harvests an egg from Parin. Then the doctor fertilizes the egg, makes sure it’s a boy, and implants the embryo into Parin. The doctor jams a needle into Parin’s abdomen and ovary to harvest an egg without any kind of numbing or pain medication. Parin screams because it’s painful. The doctor says that they don’t waste pain meds on slaves. Parin was already not wanting to bring a child into this world, but Mercer wanted one and told her that she would accept it. That whole section just really got to me, and I had to take a little break there for a few minutes.
Anyway, Edar does try to take Parin away from Mercer, after already signing a contract with him, and lies to her and tells her that he left it in the contract that he could reclaim her at any point. We also find out that Edar used to own her mother, and that’s what he bought Parin.
We also find out the true reason why Midros started taking other women and that the galaxy wide authorities not only knew about it, but they also helped out. The paeloate mining caused infertility problems for native-born Midrosians. So, a woman who wasn’t born on Midros was much more likely to have a child. When Parin and Mercer get this information out to the galaxy, the authorities come and take over Midros and set all the women free, unless they choose to stay as slaves.
Parin makes that choice and stays with Mercer. They have a history of edging and orgasm denial. It’s how he helps her in her submission. When he lets her have an orgasm, it’s amazing because she has to wait and wait and wait for it. When Parin tells Mercer that she wants to stay his slave, she asks to never have an orgasm again, since it helps her stay focused on him and his needs, and that his pleasure his all that’s necessary. However, he says that if he denies her permanently, he doesn’t get to listen to her beg and see her disappointment when he says no. However, he tells her that he will make her edge a certain amount of times, and then he will let her come, and keep her coming until she can’t come anymore. Then he will put her back in her cage until she has him back as her focus.
I mention this particularly for a reason. That’s because Sophie made a change right before she submitted it for publishing. I’m in her ARC group and she asked for feedback on the original ending as opposed to this new part. I fully, truly, deeply support and love this. It’s devious and evil and I think it really suits the relationship well. And the cage has a special meaning for Parin and Mercer. It’s her safe place when she needs a break, and a place he can send her when he’s unhappy with her.
Anyway, I love these characters and this world so much. Parin and Mercer won’t leave my head at all, which is a sign of a good book. I will have this series, and especially this book on reread, frequently, I think. In places, it will probably be a one-handed reread.
This book is intense, but the payoff at the end, not just for Parin and Mercer, but for the entire series and all the women of Midros, is worth all the intensity. Do read this.
I received an ARC in exchange for my honest and voluntary review, so that’s what you got.