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Review: Caged Slave

Reviewer: Jaime Samms

Author: Yuiko Takamura
Manga-ka: An Kanae
Publisher: June
Rating: Mature (18+)
Release Date: April 2008

Synopsis: “Tsukasa Shinozaki is a dutiful secretary, performing above and beyond the call of duty. Yes, Tsukasa has fallen into that time-honored trap of a secretary falling for the boss. When Tsubasa’s boss dumps him for a marriage of status, Tsubasa hooks up with a mysterious man at a bar-under the rule that he not reveal his name. Will Tsubasa ever truly know his Prince Charming?”

After being dumped by his lover and boss in favour of the company president’s daughter, Tsukasa Shinozaki is convinced he has no taste or discretion when it comes to men. When a beautiful stranger hits on him in a hotel bar, Tsukasa can’t help but take the invitation, only to find his new mystery man refuses to reveal his identity. Despite this, he decides to continue the illicit relationship and tries to make himself believe he isn’t falling for his secretive lover. It isn’t until the man makes a surprise appearance at Tsukasa’s job that he finally has to admit he’s fallen. But now that the mystery is over, the relationship doomed to end as well, and Tsukasa resigns himself to another broken heart.

I found this story hit a personal chord for me. I can sympathize with the main character’s conviction that he attracts all the wrong kind of attention from men. Full of self doubt and insecurity, even though he knows he’s a very good looking guy, Tsukasa just can’t believe in good fortune and spends much of the story convincing himself the relationship he so desires, and his own heart, are doomed. It doesn’t stop him from working hard though, doing his best to serve his boss and put his own feelings aside. His self-doubts might have become tiresome if not for his sincerity in all other things. He truly loves his man, he truly wants to do his best in his job, and in the end, he finds his own strength, rejecting the man who dumped him and standing up to those who would disrespect him.

As for the mystery man himself, his devotion to Tsukasa, even through the younger man’s turmoil, made him instantly likeable. The pairing was a typical one, with the older, more powerful seme teaching the younger, more naive uke how very pleasurable love can be. The author showed not just the physical act, but delved into each character’s feelings as well, adding an emotional element that made the love scenes a lot more intimate and enjoyable.

The cover art is a lovely representation of the characters, and the line art inside revealed just enough to fire the imagination! Kanae’s focus on facial expressions brings the characters to life perfectly.

There were a few typos, and one misused word, which I would have to hunt through the book for, but those are pretty minor details, especially since I’ve read translations with much more glaring mistakes. And the book fit in my pocket. How cool is that?

Any fan of yaoi and boys love will appreciate this story, angsty uke notwithstanding (or maybe, like me, because of him!). All in all, Caged Slave was a pretty quick, very satisfying read. I was invested in the characters enough that the improbable amount of office sex didn’t even faze me. The book embodied all the characteristics of the genre that you might expect while still keeping the characters real. For me, that was the biggest enjoyment; being able to really like the guys I was reading about.

Review written December 23, 2009 by Jaime Samms

Jaime Samms

About the Author:

Jaime Samms has been writing gay romance and fiction for quite some time now, and reviewing it for almost as long. She's published with e-publishers Freya’s Bower, Lovyoudivine Alterotica and soon, Total e-Bound and Drollerie Press. "Writing is quite a passion for me. I’ve been asked many times why write about love affairs between men, when I clearly am not one, and really, it feels right to me. Not a terribly informative answer, but there it is."

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4 Responses

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is probably my favorite June novel that they've released. It's got a lot of proofreading problems, but I can definitely overlook them when it has far more insight into the characters and their motivatations than most yaoi light novels do (and the artwork is really great!). One of the things that makes this novel really stand out in my mind is that you not only get the point of view from the main character, but some real insight into the seme's perspective, which was refreshing and fun and is rarely done so well.

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