King in Chains by Grey Francis, Erotic Book Review
By Pleasure Panel reviewer CyborgDicks
King in Chains is the second book in the ‘Into the Dark Woods’ series by Grey Francis, and its plot carries on from the end of the previous book in the series, Bound to a Vampire. Unlike Bound to a Vampire, the viewpoint character of King in Chains is not Cassandra, but one of her lovers, Alastair. However, the style is very similar to the first book, in that a modern day plot is interspersed with flashbacks that provide backstory, in this case Alastair’s backstory.
The modern plot in King in Chains is far less of a mystery than in Bound to a Vampire. Where the original book focused on the mystery of what happened to Killian, the lover of Cassandra and Alastair who’s been missing for centuries, the sequel focuses on an outright war between humankind and vampires. I think this plot is quite well set up, and it’s a much clearer plot than that of the first book. There is a clear antagonist- a new Master Vampire- but like the first book, the present day plot seems very much ‘sit and wait’. While the plot in Bound to a Vampire was mostly ‘wait until we find out who this mysterious vampire is’, a lot of the plot of King in Chains is mostly ‘Alastair waits to be rescued’. That said, in Bound to a Vampire the present day plot comes across as predominantly stagnant to me, mostly serving as a frame in which to deliver exposition about characters’ pasts. Here it feels much more dynamic, like there’s an actual story to be told.
Where the present day plot does serve as a framing for the past, the main trio’s pasts are a story I can get invested in. The chemistry between all three lovers is intense, and I really enjoyed seeing Francis write this tension from a male perspective. The sex scenes are probably what most readers are here for, and they are passable. As I said before, the language Francis chooses to use is not my preferred choice of language, but it works. The rhythm of the sex scenes can be a little repetitive, but the chemistry between Cassandra, Killian, and Alastair is excellent.
There’s also a few sex scenes with characters outside this main trio. Who this is is spoils the main plot quite a bit, so I won’t go into too much detail. With one character in particular, her scenes are quite heavy. Not torture in just the BDSM sense, but actual torture. As such, there isn’t much risk-aware consensual kink with her. I don’t have a problem with this necessarily- I think fantasy isn’t always moral or tidy in the way we expect and want real life sex to be. But it is something I think readers should be aware of before they go in. Like in Bound to a Vampire, there are a few scenes of outright rape, but again these are not necessarily glorified or romanticised. Still, it’s not the content I think people expect when they pick up a book like this.
There is one thing I particularly hated about Bound to a Vampire that continues into King in Chains, and that is the presentation of very morally iffy situations as if they are not morally iffy. In this case, it is the fact that Alastair and Killian bonded when the former was under the age of 18. While this is technically legal in the UK, and in historical context wasn’t considered as wrong as it is now, I still don’t feel comfortable with it. I especially don’t feel comfortable that this fact seems to remain unexamined by characters in the book, with Killian being ‘unable’ to stay away until Alastair is of age treated as something almost sexy or desirable. The presence of that alone, coupled with the fact that gay and bisexual men often get treated as if we are a inherent threat to underage boys, makes me feel deeply uncomfortable. I fact I really, really, hate this. I don’t think there’s anything that could excuse it for me.
There are a few typing, spelling, spelling and grammar errors throughout the book. Switching between past and present events can be a little confusing at times, especially since both are written in present tense, but it’s manageable. I think the present tense works better here than it does in Bound to a Vampire, as the present day plot has a lot more tension, and the present tense really adds to this.
Overall, King in Chains is in some ways better than the original Bound to a Vampire, and in some ways not quite so strong. The present day plot line is stronger in King in Chains, and I think there’s more tension and variation in its sex scenes. However, where Bound to a Vampire did badly, King in Chains also falls. There is a large amount of content that probably does require a warning and readers likely wouldn’t expect, and one or two pieces of content that really make me deeply uncomfortable.
As is, I’d give the book a 3/10. I don’t feel like I could be comfortable giving it a higher rating with sexual content involving a person under the age of 18, even if it is technically above my country’s age of consent, and I’m honestly vaguely uncomfortable giving it that rating. If this was removed, I definitely think it would bump my rating up to a solid 7/10.
Most of the content of this book is pretty enjoyable, so I really hate that I can’t recommend it. But I couldn’t, in good conscience, do so.
Where To Buy
Thanks to Pleasure Panel reviewer CyborgDicks for this review of the erotic book, King in Chains by Grey Francis.
King in Chains by Grey Francis was provided free of charge, in exchange for a fair and honest review by the Pleasure Panel, by the author.
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