4 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Erotica, Genre Romance, Heidi Belleau, Horror, Lisa Henry, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Tina, Riptide Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau’s “Bliss” Is Too Good To Be True

“If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” — Every Parent Ever


Title: Bliss

Author: Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 230 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: They’re always happy.

Rory James has worked hard all his life to become a citizen of the idyllic city-state of Beulah. Like every other kid born in the neighboring country of Tophet, he’s heard the stories: No crime or pollution. A house and food for everyone. It’s perfect, and Rory is finally getting a piece of it.

So is Tate Patterson. He’s from Tophet, too, but he’s not a legal immigrant; he snuck in as a thief. A city without crime seems like an easy score, until he crashes into Rory during a getaway and is arrested for assaulting a citizen. Instead of jail, Tate is enrolled in Beulah’s Rehabilitation through Restitution program. By living with and serving his victim for seven years, Tate will learn the human face of his crimes.

If it seems too good to be true, that’s because it is. Tate is fitted with a behavior-modifying chip that leaves him unable to disobey orders—any orders, no matter how dehumanizing. Worse, the chip prevents him from telling Rory, the one man in all of Beulah who might care about him, the truth: in a country without prisons, Tate is locked inside his own mind.

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Review: Dictionary.com defines Beulah as “the peaceful land in which the pilgrim awaits the call to the Celestial City”, in John Bunyan’s {1628–88} Pilgrim’s Progress. Sounds like a pretty great place, right? In Bliss, the city-state of Beulah plays as large a role as any human character. And, as many of us found out at an early age, say, the first time the kid next to you in the sandbox told you he had a piece of chocolate and it was really, really good, you have to eat it. Only it wasn’t chocolate, it was something a stray cat left there the night before, but you found out the hard way that if it seems too good to be true, it almost always is.

In my opinion there is no such thing as a perfect book. In the case of Bliss, Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau come pretty darn close. Here’s what I didn’t like: the chip which is implanted in the brains of the offenders makes it seem like they are always happy, always willing to do what their “master” wants. This takes away their ability to say no. Non-consensual sex is bound to be the outcome of this, and I have a problem with that. The way Ms. Belleau and Ms. Henry dealt with the aftermath was well done and enabled me to get right past that to really love this book.

Rory James grew up in Tophet, a neighboring city to Beulah. Tophet is poverty, pollution, and crime ridden. Everyone who can get out tries to do so, but becoming a citizen of Beulah is almost impossible. Rory did it by applying for and accepting a job as the personal assistant to a Justice in Beulah. Tate Patterson went about it as an illegal immigrant who entered Beulah to commit a robbery and then go home. His motivation was pure, but it was still a crime.
There are no jails in Beulah. Crime is virtually unheard of. When someone is accused of a crime, they always accept a plea deal to enter the Rehabilitation through Restitution program. In doing this, they agree to have a chip implanted in their brains, ostensibly to suppress violent tendencies and to live with and serve the victim of their crime in any way asked of them, including sexually, for seven years.

When Tate “assaults” Rory by slamming into him while running from an attempted robbery, he, like those before him, accepts the plea deal. He quickly realizes that the chip does much more than suppress his criminal inclination. It makes him unable to refuse any order his master gives him, no matter what it is. Rory is gay and Tate is straight, but the chip makes Tate seem happy and willing to have sex with Rory. It makes him appear to enjoy it.

Any effort made by the offender to tell anyone the true purpose of the chip or voice their real feelings results in excruciating pain for the criminal. They usually can’t remember much to tell anyway, as most of their memories are wiped away. Tate is different in that he has flashes of memory, both of his life prior to coming to Beulah and of his time at the re-programming center. He seems to want desperately to overpower the pain to talk to Rory, who is developing real feelings for the man he thinks of as the real Tate.

The amazing skill with which Lisa Henry and Heidi Belleau develop these characters and let them reveal and see just the tiniest glimpses of truth, which enable them to realize all may not be as it appears, is a beautiful thing. I loved Rory and Tate! I wanted to see them triumph over the evil and prove that appearances ARE deceiving.

The secondary characters are as loveable and loathsome as they are intended to be. Rory’s boss is just the polar opposite of what he initially appears to be. It is rare that a bad guy is written to be as bad as this one and doesn’t read like too much of a caricature. This man felt real, and I wanted him to get the same treatment he had inflicted on so many others.

Bliss had all the ingredients in just the right measurements to make a delicious read. I read it in one sitting and would happily have had more. Riptide Publishing is keeping its stellar reputation alive by continuing to publish great quality, well-written books by amazingly talented authors. This is one I strongly recommend for everyone.




You can buy Bliss here:

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