1 out of 4 stars
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Bound by Michael Campbell is a character-driven thriller with strong sexual overtones. At the onset of the story, we are introduced to Tom, an unconventional “houseboy” working to pay off a debt to Jacqueline, a widow. However, Tom’s duties include more than just typical chores. He is tasked with obeying his master’s every word. Strangely enough, Tom's master is Ginger, Jacqueline's partner. When Stella, another person under the employ of the wealthy widow, starts acting strange, a series of events unfold that make Tom test his limits and discover what his relationship with Ginger really means.
This book is rather unique as it does not fit under any typical genre. Although the sub/dom relationship is alluded to often, there is very little actual sex in the novel. This was interesting because it established a clear relationship between the main characters but also allowed the story to move along freely, without the interruption of overwhelming or repetitive erotic scenes. However, the nature of the relationship and the language which is used to both describe the relationship and within the characters’ dialogue make this book unsuitable for those that wouldn’t normally be interested in reading erotic novels.
The book appears to be edited in the sense that there are relatively few grammatical errors. However, the writing itself lacks such professionalism. The most egregious issue with the writing is the dialogue. Many chapters or sections after a break begin with dialogue that is accompanied by unclear dialogue tags, namely in the form of pronouns. This made it difficult to understand who was speaking. Further, the author fails to insert new paragraphs within dialogue when referring to a separate character’s actions. Again, this made it unclear who the actual speaker was.
Other than the confusing writing, the most unsettling element of this novel was the poor characterization of the large cast of characters, and there are quite a few characters to attempt to keep straight. To begin, the main characters lack proper backstory; it was unclear throughout the majority of the novel how they ended up in such a situation. Moreover, the majority of characters in the story are female, and each one is strong willed, sarcastic and brave, making it almost impossible to tell them apart. The lack of differentiation between personas coupled with the poorly written dialogue made it exasperating to decipher who was speaking at a given time.
While reading this story, I couldn’t help but feel I was missing something. There is a substantial amount of background information missing from the narrative. Even by the end of the book, other than vague mentions here and there of the past, it is unclear why these characters are in the situation they are in. Similarly, when a supposedly major revelation is made about the true identity of a murderer from Ginger’s past, it is unclear why this point is so important due to the previous lack of development of this plot point.
In general, this book was frustrating to finish. I kept reading, hoping everything would make sense. Although all loose ends are tied up at the end, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing substantial information about the key plot points. Further, the incomplete characters and the lack of adherence to basic writing rules made this book a struggle to get through. In its current state, I do not recommend Bound to others, leaving me no choice but to give it a final rating of 1 out of 4 stars.
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