Hand and Glove: The Path is high fantasy gay BDSM. It follows the story of a smartass Mr. Leather title holder as he transforms from David Greenberg into ‘it’.
As David Greenberg, his life is a mess. He’s an undisciplined pretender to the role of a top, who harms submissives and is unpopular in the Leather community that he supposedly presides over. At a party, he meets a true Master who can see through his pretenses. Thinking that he’s hustling yet another trick, and that he can serve Master Hunter under his own terms, he soon learns that Master Hunter is the real deal.
Told to sell all his possessions except that which can fit into a tiny suitcase, and ordered to arrive at Master Hunter’s compound via bus, David fails his first test horribly. Instead of taking the bus, he drives his prized Red Corvette, and attracts the attention of the town’s sadistic Sheriff. Knowing that he’s probably blown his one chance with Master Hunter, David uses his one phone call to make a desperate plea for help.
Help does arrive, in the form of a lawyer, who has the trumped-up charges against David dropped. The next day, David is taken to the gates of the huge rural farm where Master Hunter reigns.
The farm is the original of a series of estates closely held by a group of Vietnam War veterans. It is self-sustaining, generating its own power, growing its own food, harvesting lumber from the woodlands, and quarrying limestone from a huge series of caverns it sits over. All of this is covered in great detail in the first chapter and again later on.
Rather than being taken to Master Hunter, David is collared, fitted with a harness, and brought down into the labyrinth underneath the complex where he begins his slave training. Over the period of several years, he moves through different slave tasks as a mule – one who performs physical labor – both underground, as a miner and a kitchen slave, to the outside world, where he is a pony boy and a lumberjack. Through that time, each rare glimpse of Master Hunter brings him hope, and a reminder of what he’s working towards.
To his dismay, he is sold at the slave auction to another master. He tries his best to serve, but kept confined in a small room in a filthy apartment, he falls into despair and attempts suicide. His new owner angrily returns him as defective merchandise.
As he is retrained by Handler Dan, who resembles Master Hunter in many ways, David begins the mental shift from I to it. Finally deemed worthy after over three years of reconditioning, ‘it’ is presented to Master Hunter as a birthday gift, to both men’s joy.
This is where the story ends. I understand that it is to be the first in a series of three.
There are several problems with this novel. The prolog and introductory chapters serve only as information dumps. They were probably tacked on with an eye to the entire series, but little of it was necessary to this novel and should have been cut. The writing does improve some after the introduction, but the habit of telling instead of showing continues throughout the novel.
What would have been the interesting parts of this story are relayed as mere anecdotal asides. Every moment of emotional connection between the men is hastily swept aside or happens at a distance. It says he fell in love with Master Hunter, and apparently Master Hunter loves it, but that’s never shown.
The jailhouse rape scenes add nothing to the story except to serve as a morality tale of what happens when a slave fails to obey his master. That point could have been made without being graphic to the point of tedium. That is, unfortunately, one of the weak points of this novel. Punishments are lingered over to the point of reader fatigue and they go beyond Safe, Sane, or Consensual. Yes, it is a slave, but it is also human and there are limits to what the human body or mind can endure.
This novel desperately needed firm editorial guidance. Hand and Glove does not compare favorably to other high-fantasy series such as The Marketplace and the "Sleeping Beauty trilogy."