Title: The White City
Author: Julia Talbot
Length: 14,600 words
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: m/m historical romance
Jem is a well-known privateer, and he knows he’s in a lot of trouble. The White City of Algiers is a hotbed of human misery, and he’s being held captive there by a ruthless man known as Hakim Reis.
Hakim knows that Jem will fetch a pretty price with the crime lord of Algiers, and he has every intention of turning the pirate over to his boss. Eventually. First, though, he wants his pound of flesh. Can one encounter feed his new addiction, or will he find a way to keep Jem alive and to himself?
This story was previously released in a TQ anthology about pirates. Here the pirate theme is more of a background as the focus is on captured privateer Jem. His ship has been boarded and Jem has been captured by Hakim, who works for the crime Lord that Jem has been routinely stealing from. Jem knows his days are numbered but much to his surprise Hakim doesn’t hand him over straight away, instead keeping him for himself.
I found that I rather enjoyed this story. I wasn’t surprised at the direction the story went – it was your typical captured man falling in love with his captor and vice versa – but the character of Jem helped to lift the story out of cliche. I liked Jem a great deal because he had a good mix of cheeky sarcasm and self-preservation. He knew when to push his luck and when to hold back. I also liked that we get enough background on him to understand his life, but that the story mainly focuses on his time with Hakim. Hakim too was a good character, although I never really felt I knew him as well as Jem. The pair worked well together, even if there was a lot of reliance on sex as a way of forging emotion. The sex scenes were well written and showed character progression as well as being hot. In particular we learn quite a lot about Hakim during the sex scenes. There was a tiny amount of BDSM in the book in the form of spanking and some tying up but not enough that it should put readers off.
The story was a good mix of sex, some banter in the dialogue and a nice bit of action and bravado towards the end. It may not be a story which stays with me for a long time, but I found it an enjoyable way to pass the time. It amused me at times, had some serious moments too, but still managed to satisfy my need for romance and as such I can happily recommend it.