Title: Dream God (S-Gods #2)
Author Name: J. Johanis
Publication Date: November 30, 2015
For the first time in three years, Aya is finally free, but with his freedom comes the pain of all he’s lost. Seeing Akad and Marduk together makes him realize how badly he has messed up. By betraying Marduk, he ruined his chance with the one god he desires more than anything.
Aya needs time to heal and put his world back together, but the trial against the Order looms over him. As the trial begins, Akad, Marduk, and Aya are ensnared in a web of jealousy, backstabbing, and cut-throat politics. Were they crazy to think they could stand up to the Order? If the gods of the Order can still rip their lives apart, their chances of receiving justice may be next to impossible. But if they fail to bring the Order down, Aya may never be free from their grasp.
Content Advisory: M/M sex, polyamory, & dub-con.
Before I start, I need to say that readers really need to pay attention to the warnings on this. There are graphic scenes of sexual violence and dubious consent (not normally a phrase I like because I just call that “rape,” but it’s the best description in this case). The main plot is about a rape trial, and the usual victim-blaming tactics are used by the defense. It’s clear those are harmful, but even so, it could be hard for some people to read due to triggers or to being highly sensitive.
That said, I loved this book. I was excited to read it, since I read the first one and thought it was fantastic. It is absolutely necessary to read the first one for context.
I’m a sucker for a story that’s thoroughly researched, well-written, and has a lot of plot—particularly if it revolves around a social issue. This book did not disappoint, even though it’s pretty hardcore erotica. That level of sex isn’t usually my thing (nor do I typically choose books with non-consensual sex). But the characters are compelling, and the story draws you in.
As I mentioned, this is erotica, so there is a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of sex, with a wide range of emotional interaction in each scene. The three main characters—Akad, Marduk, and Aya—are all gods. They have apparently never learned to communicate what they’re actually thinking or feeling, so there are a number of misunderstandings before they get their happy-for-now ending (until the next book, of course).
Marduk was my favorite in the last book, and I still adore him. I think he largely represents the rational mind. He’s steady and thoughtful, compared to Aya’s sensitive heart and Akad’s temper. He’s had both of the other gods as lovers, and he balances them. I enjoyed seeing his character development since the last book.
I may possibly have been just a little in love with Aya. I wanted to protect him after everything he had to endure. Watching him suffer through the trial was intense and heartbreaking. He had disappointed me so much in the first book, but I was happy to see he’d grown as well.
Akad still feels like an unknown, aloof and with a simmering temper. He’s protective of the ones he loves, and he will clearly go to any length for them. It will be interesting to see where his story arc goes. Of the three, I feel like I know him least.
The sex in these stories does not always fit into neat categories of relationship vs. rape. It is always clear in these novels where the lines are between consensual, romantic/erotic sex, consensual but emotionless/necessary sex, and non-consensual sex. However, these are gods, and they use sex in various ways to enhance and wield their power. What makes that interesting is how it’s used during the trial to increase the atmosphere of victim-blaming which Aya and Marduk have to battle.
Be prepared to bring your thinking game to this book. It’s not light and fluffy, and it’s not pure escapism. It requires some thought and concentration to process the multiple angles and scenarios. It’s extremely well done, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes.
A moment later, the fierce god Anshar appeared from an adjoining room. Feeling small in his presence, Aya lowered his eyes and shifted his weight from one foot to the other. When the black-bearded god stopped before him, color flushed into Aya’s face.
Anshar inspected him from head to toe, and Aya became acutely aware of how he was dressed. With his long white skirt, kohl lined eyes, and straight black hair flowing down his back, he probably looked more feminine than most goddesses. He’d never appeared before the gods dressed in this manner, but this was who he was.
Anshar ran a hand over his full beard, his lips curling into a sneer. Aya folded his arms over his bare chest and took a deep breath. He wished he could escape Anshar’s scrutiny.
“You’re going to your hearing dressed like this?” Anshar gestured to Aya’s skirt.
“This is how I dressed before the Order took me. I only wore a tunic because Seth forced me to do so. He forbade me from lining my eyes with kohl and never let me dress how I liked.”
Anshar stared at Aya for a moment longer, his expression skeptical, then shrugged.
“Very well. Do as you like, but before we go, I must warn you that the hearing will be held in Siren’s temple. Her powers are intense and can be felt well before you stand before her. For older gods, her powers act like a strong aphrodisiac. We are able to take being in her presence. However, for younger, weaker gods, her powers inflict
overwhelming arousal. It will be so severe that you won’t be able to function in her presence. You’ll be paralyzed with desire that will cut into you like a knife until it’s alleviated.”
Aya furrowed his brow. “But… I’ve never desired a goddess. I’ve only been with gods.”
Anshar smirked. “It doesn’t matter whether you desire gods or goddesses. She emanates lust, and it will be too much for you to handle. The only way to counter it is with sex. So, before you are presented to her, I’m going to have to fuck you.”
“What?” The color drained from Aya’s face. The idea of this fierce bearded god driving his cock into him made Aya’s hole contract and his knees go weak. The thought of Anshar coming inside him made him feel like he was going to piss.
“No, I…” Aya couldn’t breathe. He shook his head, taking a step backward. He couldn’t allow Anshar to touch him in that way. Aya’s arousal unsettled him, and he suddenly felt like he was going to be sick. Akad’s father couldn’t fuck him. He couldn’t.
As Anshar watched Aya’s retreat, anger flickered into his dark eyes. “Aya, I have no desire to fuck you, but we have no choice about the matter. If I don’t do it, you won’t be able to stand before Siren, let alone speak to her.”
“But I … My servant can do it.”
“Your servant is a mortal!” Anshar snapped, his jaw tense. “His semen will do nothing for you. You’ll need to be fucked by a god! Furthermore, I wasn’t asking for permission. I’m telling you what’s going to happen. Now, follow me and I don’t want to hear another word of protest.”
Anshar stormed out of the room, but Aya felt too weak to follow. How could he let this god fuck him? Tears came to his eyes. Too many gods had bent him to their will.
He wanted it all to be over. He wanted to give his body to whom he chose and no one else. Aya took a deep breath. He was faint. All the blood had drained from his head, and he wavered, grabbing a chair to steady himself.
Aya shook his head, doing his best to gather his courage. He had to be strong to get through this. Once the trial was over, he could start over. His body would be his own once again. Testifying against the Order was the only way he could gain his freedom once and for all. Aya finally made his feet move, and he followed Anshar out.
1) How do you feel about e-books vs print books?
I have a preference for e-books. In fact, I rarely ever read paper anymore.
2) What process did you go through to get your first book published?
For my first book I went through a self-publishing company. It was actually a gross waste of money, but it helped me since it was easier to learn the ropes after having assistance the first time.
3) How do you find or make time to write?
I usually have blocks of time designated for writing. I set an alarm on my phone to remind me.
4) Name one person who you feel supported you outside of your family members?
Outside of my family members, I had support from other authors and beta readers. The person who supported me the most is a gay friend of mine who goes by Taboo. My talks with him gave me a lot of inspiration and insight.
5) Tell us about a book you’re reading now.
I’m reading a book called Myth, Mayhem & Sweet Tea. I’m also slowly making my way through the BYOK stories on the Goodreads BDSM group.
J. Johanis writes dark m/m erotic fantasy, and enjoys plots that are historical or myth-based.