Games & Consequences
by Ann Somerville
Volume 2 of Remastering Jerna
Games & Consequences picks up the story of Remastering Jerna. It's a couple years later, and Jerna is happy in his life, with its somewhat unusual domestic arrangements. He spends four days a week as a manager at the exclusive Winds of Paradise hotel and bordello, while those nights are spent with Ria, the highly placed police inspector who helped set him free from his wrongful conviction in the first book. Ria gives Jerna the domination and pain he needs, as well as love. His weekends are spent with his very understanding wife and two children.
Jerna's job at the hotel means he occasionally has to deal with some unpleasant situations and customers. In the opening sequence, titled "Games", we're treated to a scene where one of the hotel's women sex workers, Mawe, is unwittingly used in a plot by a man named Darr to punish his assistant and lover Pavine. Darr is a powerful government minister who abuses Pavine regularly. When Jerna learns what happened to Mawe, he asks Ria to have a word with Darr to inform him he's not welcome in the hotel. This infuriates Darr, who takes it out on Pavine. Fortunately, fearing for his life, the young man has the sense to run away.
A few months later, this seemingly minor incident is forgotten by both Ria and Jerna. But then Jerna is implicated in a murder, and drug dealing. Faced with going back to prison, again, for a crime he didn't commit, Jerna begins to unravel fast. Ria must figure out what really happened and get Jerna out of jail before his lover goes insane, or kills himself.
Games & Consequences is essentially a mystery, largely told by Ria. While the reasons and people behind the frame-up are a little more obvious to the reader than they are to Ria and Sila, the police investigator on the case, there's still enough of a mystery here to keep you reading. Even once Ria figures out that Darr is behind the plot, he still has to prove it. Along the way, as his private life gets exposed, he has to try and convince people that the BDSM sex he enjoys with Jerna is not the same as the abusive relationship that Darr had with Pavine. It's a very key subtext to this story - that there's a difference between BDSM and outright abuse. What Ria and Jerna share is consensual and brings them both pleasure. What Darr inflicted on Pavine was simply pain that was neither wanted nor enjoyed.
While it is a good read, this sequel isn't quite as moving as the first book. It didn't really tug at me emotionally the way Remastering Jerna. A big part of that is probably that you just know that Ria is going to work it out eventually and rescue Jerna, who isn't quite as isolated this time, like he was in the first book. Still, it is a very good mystery, so I'm giving it four stars out of five.