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Kindle Alexander
Shadowcraft - Jean Woolf
Review written for Hearts On Fire Reviews.

This book grabbed me right away. It takes place in a different world where Li and Matt are 17 year old prostitutes forced to entertain johns all night only to turn all but the minim over to their host “Mother Hen.” They are left with barely enough to buy food. Li and Matt are roommates and sometimes lovers. The story focuses on Li and his being caught in the middle between the drug Lord, Davis (Li’s first client) and the Agent, Soren, trying to catch him.

Li is such a sweet soul. I felt for him right off the bat. He is resigned to his work as a prostitute, which is quite rough and painful most of the time. While he endures, he is comforted by the fact that he does not get aroused with the johns. He and Matt justify their time together as doing so of their own free will and want. Poor Li is forced to run drugs during the day by swallowing the packets which could kill him at any time. In the meantime, he is picked up by Soren, who basically doesn’t give Li any choice but to help him by transferring tracking device thingies to Davis through mutual intimate exchanges. The devices, called nanites, only last for 48 hours, during which, Soren keeps Li occupied so he doesn’t transfer them to other johns. In exchange, once Davis is captured, Soren promised to relocate Li and Matt to a foster care witness protection program.

During his time with Soren, Li convinces him that the Hen will insist on a medical examination and will know if Soren doesn’t have sex with him. As cold hearted as Soren is, he is gentle and caring with Li. He arouses Li the first time, which sends Li into a bit of a mental breakdown and causes a tiff between he and Matt. These two have set ways to deal with the ordeals and traumas of their “profession,” and something like this just sent them completely off-kilter.

Things get a little hairy when Li is found to be the snitch, but Li and Matt eventually get their HFN. I was a little confused by the blurb on this that put so much emphasis on being a shadow, etc. and maybe even expected something a little different. I loved the tone of this story and easily pictured this world of underage prostitutes and drugs, hovers and nanites. Life seems pretty bleak and dismal for Li and Matt, and I am right there with them wondering how they will manage under the foster care when they have taken care of themselves for so long already. I would love to see a follow up to this story and see how they are making out. I wouldn’t mind seeing some more of Soren as well.