The third and final book of the Free Men series, The Master, by Kate Aaron brings everything full circle allowing each person to find strength, courage, and time to heal from past wounds. We’ve read about Tam in, The Slave, and then Kai, The Soldier, and now we find out who the man is they call Master.
After they were rescued and return home, they find things are worse than they thought. The compound is in shambles and Otiz is crumbling around them. Lysander, along with Tam and Kai, take it upon themselves to help out as much as possible. The death and destruction around them is more than they can bear, at times. It leaves a foreboding impact with everyone in its wake.
At the end of the day, when it’s just the three, in the privacy of their bedroom, Lysander and Tam patiently administer soft touches, gentle kisses, and kind words to Kai in hopes of alleviating his fears and doubts. The truth surrounding his scars and damages are something they all know but refuse to speak of. Kai is hesitant and skittish during their intimate moments, but with Tam and Master, both, speaking words of encouragement and administering lotions carefully over his wounds, he begins to show signs of healing. Not just his body but his mind, also.
Kai finally makes a breakthrough reaching his climax and he is suddenly overwhelmed with tears. Immediately, he surrenders as everything he has endured comes crashing down on him. He is overcome by emotion and fear that was strangling him. Now, as Tam and Master surround him with their arms and bodies, true healing can begin.
I wrapped my arms around his waist and held him tight between us. I petted him and dropped kisses along the back of his neck, his belly surging below my hand as he fought to regain control of himself. “It’s all right,” I soothed, not letting up my grip around him for a moment. “We’re here. We’ve got you. Everything is going to be all right.”
Each new day they go into town to help restore order and rebuild better and stronger than before. Lysander spends a lot of time with Kai and he realizes how strong he really is. He has suffered so much at the hands of others yet he still carries on with renewed strength. They talk freely getting to know each other better and finding they have a lot in common, mostly their love for Tam.
Originally, the plan was for Kai to be a companion to Tam, a lover, and a friend. Someone Tam would have for himself if/when Master had to return to the courts. He is all of those things but he also wants Lysander to be there for him, not just Tam. To love and protect him. Thinking he is doing what’s best, Lysander does not encourage his way of thinking. He goes out of his way to discourage him from thinking he is anything other than a Master with a pleasure-slave. This hurts Kai, deeply, and it hurts Master, as well, he just masks his pain. As a reader, you will feel the hurt and despair it causes in Kai. To receive this rejection, so blatantly, is heart breaking.
Every day that goes by Lysander hates himself more and more. For the way he handled certain things, the way he continues to lie to his boys about matters out of his control. There will come a day, however, that the truth will come out. Decisions made years ago that, at the time, seemed the best for everyone, now, feels like failure and he is repulsed by his own actions and cowardly behavior. Will the truth set him free? Will the boys still want him once they know all of the lies he has told? Or… will he leave them thinking that is what is best for them? Tam will have Kai for support and a lover which was his plan all along. After all, it is his job to know what’s best for them.
The Master takes on a more calm and collective feel as they repair not only the damage to the compound but their inner demons, as well. The urgency and stress they were under is greatly reduced as their focus is now on rebuilding. Even though the pace is slower, there are still several breath-holding moments that will consume you as you read.
As they wonder thru Otiz looking for missing children and checking on their neighbors, Lysander and Kai come across some horrible, horrible, gut wrenching discoveries that will take them to their knees, literally. The author doesn’t skimp on details or descriptions as these developments take place. There are parts that are quite graphic and hard to read, mainly because you can feel their despair and the horror of the situation as if you were right there with them.
In these moments, guilt will suffocate and attempt to undo Lysander. It’s also in these moments that Kai will show enormous strength and fortitude. He will become the Master and Lysander the slave as he surrounds him with strong arms and feather light kisses.
They will travel many crossroads in this storyline but each one is met with strength, courage, and honesty. No more lies, only truths amongst the three as they decide their futures, who they spend it with and where. The author continues to hold you inside the story as they fight for their future. As the reader, all of my questions that I had from the beginning were answered and the story wrapped up with all parties knowing that they were where they wanted to be. An ending that will leave a smile on your face and joy in your heart.