Forbidden Fiction author Alicia Cameron has a new MM post-apocalyptic paranormal romance out, and she is stopping by QSF today with a guest post. Welcome, Alicia!
Inherent Cost is the third and final book in the Inherent Gifts series, the first book of which was published in 2012. The ideas, and the books and short stories that I have written in the process, started back even further, in 2010, when I first came up with the ideas for Jere, Wren, Isis, and a little rural slave town called Hojer. Somehow, six years have passed since I first “conceived” these characters and their lives, and I feel rather bittersweet as I conclude their story. For now, at least.
This has been my most edited book, which on the one hand, can get a little tiring, but on the other hand, let me get to know my characters so much better. This book allows—or forces—the main characters to stray outside their comfort zone. Jere, in particular, has to do things he never thought he would, proving himself as a master, a competent healer, and an adult in a world he thought he’d never belong in. Some of my first notes on Jere’s character described him as a “man-child” who did what he had to do, but never really ventured beyond his own experience. While this issue gets addressed in the first two books as well, the third book really solidifies it, and Jere is faced with even more difficult decisions. We see him grappling with politics, defending his slaves and his lifestyle, and doing this all as an insider. In order for Jere to fight, he must know his opponents inside and out, and truly understanding what it means to be a master in this world is a constant challenge.
Inherent Cost also provides an opportunity for Wren to grow. For so long, he has been stuck in his role as a slave, considering himself property to be used and abused, but by the final book in the Inherent Gifts series, we see him taking charge—and not just in bed. But also in bed, because Wren is just such an excellent dominant. True to his history, he serves as Jere’s advisor, pushing him to do what needs to be done, making sure his aloof master is not allowed to be aloof when it comes to his slaves. In some ways, I think Wren has softened over the course of the trilogy, and I think it’s a good thing. While he will never be soft and cuddly, he’s dropped a lot of the cynicism he showed in the first two books, and he’s willing to take chances for other people, even if it means he risks himself. When we first met him, he was cold, distant, and detached—he’s turned into a much more complete person now. Instead of only focusing on his own limited safety, the freedoms and protections that Jere have offered him have allowed him to become a whole person.
One of the great things about writing is that it never really has to be “over.” I am currently working on some other pieces set in the same world as I’ve created in the Inherent Gifts series, exploring the lives of new and different characters who face some of the same challenges as Wren and Jere have. The stories are countless, at least in my mind, but I probably won’t share them all. I mean, as much as I would love to share every little detail of my imaginary friends, the level of interest for anyone who doesn’t live in my head has its limits. Still, I feel this is a good ending for this trilogy, because I think I have told all of Wren and Jere’s story. They may play a part in other stories, and may have a few anecdotes here and there, but over the course of three books and over a thousand pages, I feel I have definitely done them justice.
A train wreck outside Hojer injures Jere and Wren, destroying their anniversary bliss, and thrusting them back into the dangers of their home, where slaves like Wren are treated as animals. While Jere struggles for consciousness, Wren is seized with the other slaves. When Jere comes to the rescue he is furious to find Wren kenneled, neglected, and abused.
For the last two years, Jere has been using his status as a healer to protect Wren and his second slave, Isis. Wren’s controversial fire talent is getting harder and harder to hide, Isis is desperate to escape to her family in a free state, and Jere’s compassion is making enemies of powerful slave owners. Meanwhile, upcoming elections are stirring political unrest. Jere supports a reformation that could improve the lives of Arona’s slaves by treating them in human clinics like Jere’s, instead of sending them to animal healers. But the slavers are only motivated by the threat of an untreatable infectious disease spreading inexorably towards Hojer.
The more Jere becomes involved in politics, the more his clinic and his household come under scrutiny, prompting the Arona slave regulation board to harass Jere, questioning his ability to manage his clinic, and threatening to take away Wren and Isis. The two slaves are preparing to be evaluated, when Jere stumbles upon information that could separate the three of them forever. (M/M)
Note: Contains potentially disturbing content. Check the ForbiddenFiction story page (given above) for content labels. This is not our sale page but a page that gives readers with the direct link (given above) to the story page so that they may also have access to the labels and other information about the book.
Inherent Gifts Book Three
About the Series
The Fall made the world a better place. The collapse of the old society and the struggle for survival in its ruins gave humanity a fresh start. The deaths of so many clarified things, it required the survivors to focus on what was really important. And the rise of those preternaturally gifted in mind and body allowed humanity to rebuild the world without completely returning to the toxic old ways.
Jere is a young doctor, with a gift for psychic healing. Unable to find work in his native Sonova, he takes over an old friend’s small-town medical practice after the friend’s death in a mysterious fire. Hojer is as different a place from Sonova as Jere could imagine. In Arona, the nation-state of which Hojer is a part, the physically gifted are enslaved, owned by psychic masters who ruthlessly punish any disobedience. Wren is the slave who Jere inherited along with the medical practice. Burned in the fire and broken by a lifetime of cruelty, Wren wants only to serve and be ignored. Jere had never imagined that he would own a slave. He’d certainly never thought he’d fall in love with one. But in Hojer, where simple kindness to a slave is forbidden, loving Wren could be the end for both of them.
Alicia Cameron has been making up stories since before she can remember. After discovering erotica during a high school banned books project, she never really turned back. She lives in Denver, Colorado with two tiny dogs and a rabbit who conspire regularly to distract her from doing anything productive. By day she works in the mental health field and is passionate about youth rights and welfare. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, glitter, and punk rock concerts.