This is probably by far my most favorite of all slave-fics, for all that the beginning is rather awkwardly phrased at times and often too melodramatic by far. Whatever it is, Knowles settles her characters comfortably into the world she creates.I suppose part of it is that she conveniently eliminated much of the stupid posturing most of the enslaved characters in the slave fics go through (because while I do understand that one would feel indignant, angry, and deny their enslavement and whatnot [stages of grief and all, yeah?] . Because of that, Knowles was able to focus more on the character dynamics and whatnot, I suppose, and didn't have to pay the obligatory and token acknowledgement/possible expounding on how indignant the person was to be taken a slave.I have to admit, though, the awkwardness and melodrama have only seem to come up now, on a further rereading (I've reread this at least more than twice, although only one full reread and then other reread in parts...), so it couldn't have been that big an issue. It's not really that bad; it just reads like...odd jumps into 3rd person omniscient from 3rd person limited in Kael's voice.It was actually rather - dare I say? - cute. The relationship development, that is. Actually, this is different from most slave fics I've read because the captor takes the time to develop a relationship of sorts (he doesn't allow the Kael to forget that he's the one in charge, but Taren is kind and doesn't mistreat him).The added element of the Concubine Guild rivalry was interesting and made this book so much...more.It seemed a little weird at first that Taren is apparently smaller than Kael (but he has a larger penis? Or was that just Kael panicking because he thought Taren was going to take him that first night? Eh, the penis isn't the main point). But then, I suppose that was a bit of snobbery ingrained in me by societal expectations - that the larger of the two must definitely be the top. I realized then how foolish it was for me to presume so; top is a state of mind. It's like saying women can't be Dommes because they're generally physically smaller and weaker than men.12/2/12 ETAI have changed the rating to a 5. Granted, on this reread, it was mostly a skim read for the parts I wanted, but still. I know what it is now that makes this so awesome. It's because Knowles takes a very intelligent approach to this subject. There's practicality, but Kael doesn't just completely give up either. The main thing is that I like Taren so much. He's intelligent and shows it. He claims his role as "master," but is neither cruel about it nor overly forceful. The horse analogy is actually strangely apt and reminds me of the different "breaking in" methods described by Sewell in Black Beauty. Taren's like Beauty's original master as opposed to Ginger's trainers (which I find the dominant person in typical slave-fics generally tend to be). Or rather, no. Not quite that brutal. But general slave-fics have all the elements that made me abandon yaoi with disgust. The rape-"love" thing along with another (usually aborted) attack by some even more brutal person and the uke thinking "wow. This dude's not so bad."This relationship is functional and not just because The Author Said So, but because of the development. There's no trite deus ex machina to force the MC to think "he loves me...in his own brutal way, BUT THAT'S DEFINITELY ENOUGH" *hopeful eyes.Yeah. I changed this rating from a 4 to a 5. This still remains one of my top favorites.