Cage Match

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CageMatchTitle: Cage Match
Author: Bonnie Dee
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: M/M Futuristic
Length: 300 pages
Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by Jenre

THE BLURB

A prince of industry, an imprisoned gladiator, fistfights instead of ballrooms — Cinderella just got hotter.

A master in the arena but a slave when combat is over, Jabez is a cage fighter raised on the streets. Wealthy young Andreas Fortias rescues him from his bleak existence, offering him the chance for a new life. But Andreas will have to break through more than a slave cage to touch Jabez’s heart. And Jabez may have to risk his new freedom to save his lover, so together can they expose a truth which may change their world.

THE REVIEW
I’ve read and enjoyed a number of Bonnie Dee’s m/f romance books and I’ve always found them well written with good characterisation. When I saw that she’d written a m/m book and that it was set in the future, which is a setting I usually like, I snapped Cage Match up. Sadly, this book failed to impress or engage me.

The book begins well and in fact if it hadn’t been for the first section of this book, I may have graded it lower. Andreas is one of the priviledged. He lives in what used to be Boston which has been rebuilt after a devastating plague. The rich are now completely seperate from the poor and criminal class and live in opulent splendour, wasting their lives on amusements and corrective surgery to make themselves look perfect. One of the amusements is watching the cage fights between men. This is a violent often deadly sport, similar to dog fighting where two men fight until the other is dead or unconscious. The way that the fight is described is a mix of thrilling and repulsive as both men grapple desperately to save their lives. The descriptions of the blood-thirsty crowds was also effectively done and I was drawn into the story quickly through the eyes of Andreas who is the heir to a large corporation and one of the disaffected rich.

Afterwards, for a fee, a spectator can visit the victor in order to have sex with him. Andreas is particularly attracted to one of the fighters and his friend, the odious and frankly rather OTT Timon, pays for Andreas to have a special visit with the fighter, Jabez. When Andreas meets Jabez the attraction towards him deepens into full blown lust. The sexual tension between them works well even though Jabez is essentially Andreas’ whore at this point, something which Andreas feels both a mix of shame and excitement about. Andreas is also horrified to discover that the cage fighters are prisoners who are working off a prison sentence rather than doing it for the money as he first assumed.  Andreas then goes on to ‘rescue’ Jabez by buying his indenture and taking Jabez back to his house so that Jabez can become his personal trainer.

It was at this point that the story started to go downhill. For a start Andreas lives in a safe environment where there is no crime. He doesn’t need to defend himself against enemies or learn martial arts in order to protect himself. Yet he and Jabez train in fighting skills for most of the book. It all just seemed contrived and I could see that it would be leading to a forced ending. Andreas insists that Jabez is not his personal whore and that he only wants a trainer, not sex, but that doesn’t last too long before both men are in bed together supposedly because that’s what Jabez wants. The story is your typical rich man/poor man scenario and all the cliches and stereotypes are wheeled out one after the other. Andreas is young, innocent, easily influenced by his friends. He lives in an ivory tower well away from any nasty people. He’s spent a lot of time amusing himself with trifles and has been spoiled by his mostly absent father. As well as this he is just a ‘nice guy’. Jabez grew up an orphan in ‘Brick city’ where the criminal class and poor are locked behind high walls so they don’t desecrate the city of rich people. He is rough, distrusts everyone, cannot read or write, is world weary and down to Earth. There was nothing wrong with these two men or their character other than I’ve read these types over and over again and, frankly, I was bored.

Everything that happened after Jabez arrived in Andreas’ house was utterly predictable. I knew they would end up having sex; I knew that Andreas would develop a conscience once he’d heard Jabez’ tale of woe; I knew that Andreas’ father wouldn’t approve of his relationship with Jabez; I guessed the ending and pretty much how it was going to occur. I’m sorry to say that I had to drag myself through the second half of the book and only finished it because I knew I would have to write this review.

There were some good things about the book. I liked the world building and the idea of the two separate societies. Jabez’ memories of living in Brick City were affecting and I actually liked his character and the way that he resisted and fought against Andreas at the beginning. There were a few nice touches like the jet-gliders but most of this future world was very similar to ours which gave the book enough realism to be believable.

Unfortunately, I can’t say I can recommend this book which is a shame because I’ve always liked this author’s writing before. It may be an auto-read for fans of Bonnie Dee, but I know that she has written much better books than this.

17 thoughts on “Cage Match

  1. Lily

    Great review Jen.
    I’ve read another of her books, Undeniable Magnetism, and I liked that one. I think I’ll pass on this one.

    1. Jenre Post author

      Thanks, Lily. As I said in the review, I’ve always enjoyed her books before. It’s a shame that this didn’t live up to her usual standard.

  2. Ingrid

    The story idea sounds very good. I love this near future stories. But I am sorry to hear the romance part did not work out wel. I liked the excerpt.

  3. Ingrid

    Jen you must have been in a very foul mood when you read this.
    Of course all the stereo types of a cinderfella story were there but to me it did not feel as bas as you say.

    1. Jenre Post author

      Ingrid: I just didn’t get how this could be branded as a ‘cinder-fella’ book. If Jabez had been rich and then fallen on hard times then I could understand it. But he’d been poor all his life. Perhaps I’m really dense but I couldn’t get the connection to this book and the Cinderella story.

  4. Amie

    I really liked this one. I was in the mood for cinderfella and either sci-fi or futuristic and this book delivered exactly what I wanted.

    1. Jenre Post author

      Which just goes to show how diverse the readers are of this blog! It didn’t work for me, but it’s great that it did work for you :).

      1. Amie

        I’m sorry that you didn’t like it. I always get that icky disappointed and restless feeling after a less than thrilling read. It’s one of the things that I like about this blog, people can disagree without it becoming a blood match! :)

  5. Ingrid

    I would have like to see more of this post plague world, in stead of the short descriptions we got.

    I thought cinderfella was rich guy meets up with poor guy? Anyway, it is a story line done more often, and follows more or less the same pattern. In that way the book was not surprising but I was not bored with it.

  6. Ingrid

    I am glad it did too. I know I looked at it but did not buy for some reason. So to buy it now after a not so glowing review from you felt a bit awkward.

  7. Karen

    I was considering buying this as I do like some of Bonnie Dee’s M/F books, but what put me off was that she said she was only writing M/M for the money. As a long-time writer and reader of slash and M/M, I feel it’s important for someone who writes M/M to be very aware of the genre and to have a love and understanding of it.

    Maybe that’s naive of me – I know plenty of popular M&B/Harlequin authors are obliged to write outside their genre just to cash in, and 90% of the time you can tell when an author really doesn’t want to be writing that type of plot. But an e-book author doesn’t have the contractual obligations of a Harlequin author, surely? So when an author admits straight up that she’s only writing that genre for the money, it pretty much turns me off the book and the author. When I read a book, I want to believe in whole-heartedly. Knowing in advance that it’s been written for purely mercenary purposes kinda makes me lairy :/

    1. Jenre Post author

      Karen: Really? I didn’t know that. I hate it when authors jump on the m/m bandwagon because they think that’s where the money is at the moment.
      It’s no wonder that I felt there was no real connection between these characters if that’s the approach the author took.
      I know that authors have to make enough money to survive – and also that many authors hold down full time jobs, have families and still have time to write the stories that they love – but it seems like this author is just taking advantage of the fans of m/m.

  8. Wave

    Like Lily I read and enjoyed Undeniable Magnetism; I thought this author did an amazing job on the characters and I rated it highly. Her other book I reviewed I didn’t think much of – it was Ignite in the Hearts Afire series by Liquid Silver. I felt that the plot was lifted right out of Firestarter by Stephen King and she did a poor job of the plot and the characters.

    If an author admits she is writing M/M just to cash in on the readers and has no love for the genre then she has lost me as a reader. If there is one thing I value in authors other than the ability to write thoughtful books with excellent prose and dialogue as well as a good plot, it is that they should be sincere about their love of their craft and genre. Doing it just for the money is prostituting their talent and a disservice to the readers. I don’t understand why authors feel they have to write M/M and scam the fans of the sub genre when they can make a living writing het books. As far as I know, M/F hasn’t gone out of fashion the way menages went the way of the dodo bird when many M/M and het writers jumped on the bandwaggon. I realize that writers have to make money just like the rest of us, but when you fake it, it shows in the writing and the readers are the ones left holding the bag minus their money.

  9. Amie

    Karen: Can you tell me where your heard that? I’m a little passionate and this just pisses me off.

    Why would an author do or say something like that? You don’t like what you write and it shows! It might be glossed over in one book, but that won’t last for long. What a surefire way to piss off your readers! Some only read m/m but others read all types of subgenres and this is a good way to lose all of the readers who don’t like the idea of being seen as a cash cow. Write because you love what you do and want to share your passion, creativity and your work. Remember what happened to that band Sixpence None the Richer? After they did that interview and said something along the lines that their goal was to sell as much as they could, I for one, never bought anything from them again. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet; or in this case as sour.

    1. Karen

      Amie, I can’t remember where I read it, either in an interview or on her blog – definitely something specific to the author because I was looking for info on her new M/F book from Samhain (which I bought and liked). I don’t tend to retain much from author interviews/blogs but the fact that she blatantly came out and said she was writing M/M for the money really stood out for me and I even ranted about it at the time to my OH, who was totally bemused!! (by my rant, I mean LOL), Maybe she was being tongue-in-cheek about it, but it rubbed me up the wrong way. It just doesn’t seem right to me but I doubt the author cares as long as she makes money. I know I won’t be buying any of her M/M stuff because of it.

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