Joint Review – In His Command (Don’t Tell #1) by Rie Warren

In His Command cover image
Publisher: Forever Yours
Publish Date: 6 Aug
How we got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

It is the year 2070. Generations ago, the world was annihilated by catastrophic environmental events. The survivors were driven to live in big city centers ruled by the Company. To rebuild the world’s population, the oppressive Company had one rule: all homosexuals must be exterminated.

Commander Caspar Cannon has a stellar military reputation—and a life-threatening secret. When a revolution rips through the territories, Cannon is ordered to escort Company executive Nathaniel Rice to a secure location. For months, the commander has harbored illicit desire for Rice, knowing he cannot act on his attraction. Privileged, polished, and groomed to one day take over the Company, Rice is drawn to the rugged, military man. Yet Rice has his own mysterious agenda, and he knows their love can be as dangerous as the wasteland they must traverse.

Now leaving the besieged city behind, the two men embark on a journey that becomes a minefield of sabotage, betrayal—and forbidden passion. But when danger catches up to them, can Cannon trust the secretive man who holds his heart—and his fate?

This blurb came from the author’s website.

1. Thoughts on the Hero#1 (Cannon)

E: Cannon was a very torn and conflicted person. He was raised in a society that considered his sexual orientation a crime punishable by death. His society placed the highest value on those who reproduced with the only people exempt from this requirement were the ones serving in the military. After the death of his family when Cannon was a teenager, he did the only thing he could do to try to give him both a future “family” and allow him to escape the requirement to breed. This did not mean he was safe from persecution if caught, just that he would not be matched with a suitable young woman and forced to validate their contract marriage through witnessed consummation. His only escape is a few furtive moments in an underground rave/sex party for those whose interests violated the Company policy. Cannon was continually struggling with himself caught between his job as a member of the military and what he felt. The survivor’s guilt after the death of his family, constantly hiding an integral part of himself, living with the knowledge that his society would gladly kill him if they knew, and hearing the endless hatred was killing his soul. During one of his escapes from the Company he had an oft-dreamed of encounter that changed the rest of his life. Initially I had a hard time connecting with Cannon but as I continued reading and Warren let me under his protective shell, he grew on me. In this particular case I was glad for the 1st person point of view because I could see both his internal and eternal dialogue which softened a few of his rough edges. I grew to understand his mistrust, anger, and finally his willingness to give his everything.

Has I felt the same way about connecting to Cannon’s character, I found his POV hard to engage in the beginning too. Although I liked how he had to cope with an authoritarian government, especially how they dictated sexual behaviour and other forms of entertainment with sanctioned rules. I also liked how he had devil may care attitude even though I felt something with his character which I could not relate to.

But I did find some aspect of the world-building didn’t make sense, while I could understand the outlawing of homosexuality and other forms of sexuality which is deemed undesirable due to the re-population agenda. I didn’t get the witnessing of the consummation of a sanctioned marriage. The authorities was set up as corporations which took over the collapse of the world’s governments and carved up different areas amongst themselves. The way they ran their cities/areas felt off because while I understood the whole banning of homosexuality the witnessing of a consummating marriage felt very medieval and voyeuristic and I wished there was more on why these corporations came up with these policies.

2. Thoughts on the Hero#2 (Rice)

E: Rice appeared the more open, less complicated of the two men but he proved to have some unexpected depths. He knew what he wanted and was in a position to patiently maneuver things until he had a chance. What I noticed first about him and continue to find admirable was his extreme patience and tenacity. I didn’t get a chance to know Rice as well based on Cannon’s POV so all I could go off of were his actions. And as contradictory as they seemed at times he was always working towards his ultimate goal. I will let you find out what his goal was. Rice was more verbal than Cannon yet for all of his talking he actually said less which I found fascinating. It took an absence of alternatives for him to open up about what was really behind his actions, which, was a demonstration that even those who grew up among the Company elite learned not to trust anyone. I waffled between like him and being very puzzled by him until the end of the story, which is probably one of the reasons I continued reading.

Has: I totally agree with you about Rice, I think his character was more intriguing than Cannon’s and I almose kind of wished we had some chapters in his POV because he seemed more interesting. I would have loved to see his insights on how he worked with the Company elite and living with the strict rules and restrictions especially in contrast with family which was one of the elements of the story that I liked.

I also loved the twist at the end linked with Rice and that took me by surprised and this is where the narrative starting to began to get more interesting for me. While I found the beginning was action packed and pacey. The lull in the middle really dragged for me.

3. Favorite Scene

E: My favorite scene is towards the beginning with the very first interaction between Cannon and Rice. There they both established that neither was submissive but they were willing to exchange give and take. Each challenged the other and rose to meet that challenge but didn’t cross over the line of ending what could be before it really started. This first encounter set the tone for their entire relationship. Rice making the first move but demanding that Cannon match him. Cannon being forces to interact instead of passively accepting or denying what was offered. Rice doing what he could to make Cannon comfortable and show him what could be while Cannon was always the protector and caring for Rice. Not to mention the very elemental method of their joining.

Has: I think for me, the scene towards the end which is a bit spoilery but since this is a romance and it has a HEA. [spoiler]I loved the wedding scene. I loved the symbolism and the vows they shared. I thought it was very sweet and it when both Cannon and Rice showed a much more softer side in their relationship which I think was missing in the beginning. [/spoiler]

4. Dislike about book

E: I had some issues with this story unfortunately. First I felt that the pacing was extremely slow in some sections. While the first part of Cannon and Rice’s journey did serve to build a bond between the two men I didn’t need a day by day account along with the variety of methods/ways/order of their smexy times. I felt as if that could have been shortened and several of their encounters left out. It almost seemed like it was turning into an erotic story when the sex taking over the plot which was not what I was looking for in this particular read. I also felt that the real growth in both their relationship and Cannon started with their enforced travel pause. To me making a distinction between living under the Company’s control and what it was like to live away from the Company would have clarified how far they traveled not just in time and distance but in ideology.

The other thing that bothered me was that this story seemed as if it was broken into different sections. Meet cute with reason to stay physically close together, travel, change in perspective, danger and so on (more would be spoilerish). I wish those transitions were a bit less obvious or that the tension rise was smoother instead of sudden sharp increases and decreases. With each one I kept looking to see if that was the climax of the book so that threw off my reading flow.

Has: Yes! I also found the numerous love scenes were beginning to overshadow the main story and the plot. I found that after they left the city it began to drag with the pace because it was all focused on them having sex, and daily tasks until they met up with danger. And then this would be repeated in the next act of the book. It made it for very disjointed narrative and I also found Cannon’s POV in the first half especially with the love scenes not that sexy because he was pretty crude. I don’t mind dirty talking heroes, but because I couldn’t connect to him as a character I was kind of put off by him. Although later in the book, when he began to fall hard for Rice, his tone changed to something more warmer and sweeter and this is what kept me on reading because I was very close to DNF the book.

5. Any other misc. thoughts along with grade

E: I found In His Command a very interesting premise with some flaws in the execution. Despite the flaws, Warren has developed a fascinating world and circumstances being what they are at the end of the book I am intrigued to see what will happen next with a few of the characters. She included several twists and turns a few which appeared to be far-fetched but were enjoyable all the same. I also really enjoyed how both men were strong, and mostly dominate instead of having a set top and bottom although one of them did seem to have slightly more bottom tendencies. I did want a more even distribution with the pacing, smexytimes, and plot but it did serve to highlight the brutality faced by those who had any intention of thinking or being out of step with the Company.

I give In His Command a C.

Has: This is a book I would really love to enjoy but I mostly have meh feelings on it. Yes, this had a great premise and the world-building was very interesting despite the issues I had. But overall, the narrative tone and writing style didn’t draw me in and it was a bit of a struggle to read. Although it definitely got better towards the end and I am glad that I did because I did warm up to Cannon and liked how the romance developed in the end. But I wished the book was much tighter in pace and plot and some of the love scenes in the beginning could have been left out because it felt more erotica than dystopian romance and that definitely bogged down the pace. But there are some promising elements in this world and I may be drawn to the sequel.

I give In His Command a C-

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2 thoughts on “Joint Review – In His Command (Don’t Tell #1) by Rie Warren”

  1. Lovely review, ladies. Interesting premise-society that outlaws homosexuality. I wonder if that is the new m/m trope? This is the 4th book I’ve run across in the last 24 hrs with a similar storyline.

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