Review: Teach Plus Two by Valentina Heart
I've read a story by Ms. Heart before and found it to be emotionally touching and filled with a depth I did not expect. I foolishly put off reading Teacher Plus Two for a bit. I should have known I would regret waiting so long. Orrin is a human Adult on the cusp of reaching Teacher status. This status is denoted in a physical manifestation with blue eyes turning violet. Our story begins with Orrin's kidnapping for the sole purpose to train sexual slaves. The force of sexual relations is anathema to Orrin's existence. We are treated to his fast decent into hell. The fact that he finds love during this journey helps emotionally balance him yet creates a vulnerability his sadistic abductors exploit. Teacher Plus Two is the second in this series. I did not read the first book, yet this second one is perfectly fine as a standalone. I loved it. Here is why I loved it.
First, I enjoy fantasy sci-fi type books. While the world building was still rather sketchy and not fully developed, we did learn enough about how this universe works. I found this universe rather unique and will stay in my mind long after I read this book. I would like to learn more about the governing bodies. I would also like to learn more about the different worlds in this universe as well as the different alien species.
Second, I loved the character building. Each character was flawed yet endearing. The mythology behind the TRI Teacher caught my attention and I enjoyed this Zen like Buddhist philosophy. Since a teacher designation is a well respected occupation within my cultural background, this story connected for me more deeply. It makes me ponder, what would I be if I were in this universe? Orrin is an idealistic man who is rudely awaken to the harsh realities of human cruelty. I found this moving and saddening. The two mates to Orrin were his missing pieces to complete him. Fai is the innocent while Hara is the jaded whore. The combination of the three creates a beautiful trinity. Even the evil guy, Roan wasn't fully evil. Roan is the perfect foil to Orrin yet he's the one who broke my heart. I cried over Roan's situation. This brings me to my next point.
Third, I loved how this story generated emotion for me. When I feel happiness, frustration, anger, pleasure and sadness in a book, it means the story speaks to me. If I feel moved enough to smile and shed a few tears, I am engaged in a story. I am whisked away into a make believe world where it feels so real to me. I love this feeling and when an author can take me to this place, the book just flat out does it for me.
Fourth, this story made me think and come up with "what-if" scenarios. I love books that make me think and analyze. In this case, my pondering surrounds the underlying messages I believe Ms. Heart was trying to state. For me, Orrin's struggle is the eternal battle of personal ethnics when in a job you cannot always control. When Orrin's emotional wellness is being torn apart, Fai's loving reassurance of the good he's providing to balance out the horrors perpetrated on the slaves is the soul-saving aspect. The most prevalent message I saw was, "what would you do to save the people you loved? To what degree would you compromise your personal beliefs and ideals to protect loved ones?" I particularly enjoyed how Ms. Heart demonstrated how two people of the same ilk behaved differently. The different paths Orrin and Roan chose are not the only options. I think for me, if I had been in Roan's torturous situation, I would behave a bit differently. My eyes I'm sure would have changed to the same colour. I too would morph into a violent being. From that point on, all similarities would cease. He apes his torturers in what I believe is to ensure others as innocent as he would feel the same suffering. Basically as he suffers, so shall others. In my instance, my credo would be, vengeance shall be mine. No abuser of innocents will go unpunished; I would become judge, jury and most especially executioner.
I hope Ms. Heart continues in this series. I would like to learn more of what happens to Roan and I'd like some closure to Karmari's heartbreak. I recommend this book to m/m lovers who enjoy alternate futuristic universes and aren't afraid of the evils that can be visited upon the innocent.
*provided by NetGalley