Counterpunch (Belonging #2) by Aleksandr Voinov

CounterpunchFight like a man, or die like a slave. 

Two years ago, Brooklyn Marshall was a happily married London policeman and amateur boxer with a promising future. Then he accidentally killed a rioter whose powerful father had him convicted of murder. To ease the burden on the prison system, the state sold Brooklyn into slavery. Now he’s the “Mean Machine,” competing on the slave prizefighting circuit for the entertainment of freemen, and being rented out for sexual service to his wealthier fans. 

When barrister Nathaniel Bishop purchases Brooklyn’s services for a night, Brooklyn braces himself for yet another round of humiliation and pain. But the pair form an unexpected bond that grows into something more. Brooklyn hesitates to call it love—such feelings can’t truly exist between freemen and slaves—but when Nathaniel reveals that he wants to get Brooklyn’s conviction overturned, Brooklyn dares to hope. 

Until an accident in the ring sends Brooklyn on the run, jeopardizing everything he’s worked so hard for. With the law on his tail and Nathaniel in his corner, he must prepare for the most important fight of his life: the fight for his freedom. 

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1The Belonging ‘uni’ Verse is not for the faint of heart. These are not easy books to read, but they have an important message. I will admit that Counterpunch wasn’t quite as heart wrenching as Anchored. Maybe it’s because Brooklyn wasn’t born a slave and he had the perfect way to vent his frustration. That didn’t make his existence any easier though. If anything, being born a freeman may have made things even harder on Brooklyn. He knew what had been ripped away from him.

Alternate worlds usually take me a while to get into, but the world that this series exists in wasn’t hard to imagine at all. I also think that is what makes them so scary. It’s probably because our history is riddled with prejudice and slavery. In some ways we’ve come a long way since then, in others we’ve taken more than a few steps back. Nathaniel isn’t naive about the way things work, but that doesn’t mean that he agrees with it. He’s in a position to help Brooklyn, but he also has his own secrets.

There were a few twists in Counterpunch. Some surprising, some not so much. It was a quick read and to say I enjoyed it would be a stretch, just because of the subject. I can say that I’m glad that I read it. It was another lesson in humanity that is well worth the read.

You can read Anchored and Counterpunch separately, but I recommend reading them together. The characters aren’t connected, but the worlds definitely are. The fact that one takes place in the US and the other in London just adds another layer to the world. Plus, the author’s did a great job of keeping true to the concept yet giving each book their own unique voice.