In a future where man’s ability to reproduce is severely compromised, humanity has adapted to survive. Breeders—male and female—have become precious commodities, and they are strictly guarded and subject to limitations.
Luca Walker is a breeder. Though he knows what’s expected of him as the youngest son of the Northern Confederacy’s Vice President, he’s held out against the pressures of an arranged marriage because he longs to marry for love, not duty. But he’s been promised to Colonel Liam Smith and there’s little he can do about it, no matter that Luca is secretly in love with his bodyguard, Marcus Gray.
When Luca finds himself pregnant with Marcus’s baby, Smith is furious and vows to take what is his—by force, if necessary. Now Luca must fight for his life and the life of his unborn child… as well as the love of Marcus and the happily ever after he’s always dreamed of.
LUCA LEANED his back against the cold, wet stones, trying to catch his breath. That’s what you get when you run away—you seek refuge in an old castle tower and the damn thing decides that after 1300 years and withstanding three world wars, now would be the right time to collapse around you. He smashed a fist into part of the remaining wall beside him, cursing.
His breathing hitched when a low, grating noise resounded from above. Shaking, Luca curled up on the ground, covering his head. Not a second too late as another hail of rocks poured down on him. The sharp edges cut through his shirt, slicing it open and exposing his skin to the cold air and debris. When the tumbling of rocks stopped, he peered up. Above him was a blue sky, dotted with fast-moving white clouds. He wasn’t buried alive, after all.
Luca straightened up, wiping off dust and small stones as he willed his racing heart to slow down. Both his forearms would bruise, and from a few minor cuts oozed a trickle of blood. His father, Gregory Walker, would have a fit. Not that he wasn’t having one right now, since Luca had cleared off, but his parents hated seeing Luca hurt. Luca hated himself for worrying them, especially his dad, Nicholas Walker. Luca should be adult enough to accept his fate with good grace, what with being twenty-three years old, and most other breeders did accept their fate, so why couldn’t he?
Being married off to Colonel Liam Smith was a treat. Or, at least, that was what everyone told Luca. He just didn’t see it that way. While Smith was a good-looking man, and had been high on the waiting list for a potential partner who could carry his offspring, Luca wanted nothing to do with him.
He’d declined every potential partner since he turned eighteen and became part of the official Northern Confederacy Breeding Program, but after five years, the chief director of the program had put his foot down and ordered him to marry Smith and give him as many children as the colonel desired. That’s how things worked for breeders: the program searched for the best genetic match and then ordered them to marry someone they didn’t love. Not that breeders couldn’t be happy in their marriages, quite the contrary even since the Northern Confederacy prided itself on matching people not only genetically but also socially and emotionally. Plus, anyone who managed to receive a fertile partner knew they had to treat their partner right. Society needed children, and it needed them to grow up in a loving environment. Otherwise, they might end up like the Southern Union, which oppressed people—especially breeders—all the time. Not even the fact that Gregory was the Northern Confederacy’s vice president helped Luca. Even though their society couldn’t exist without breeders, they didn’t have many rights. At least his parents did their best to change the rules.
Luca’s gut clenched, and bile rose up sharply in his throat. With a hand to his mouth, he swallowed. Then his stomach lurched, and he threw up until he had nothing more to give. By the time he was done, he was panting and bracing his hands hard on his knees. His whole body quaked, and his eyes stung. Why the fuck did he have to be a breeder?
He didn’t want to carry a child and be tethered to another man for the rest of his life, or at least for as long as he was fertile, not without loving the guy. Why couldn’t he just fall in love and then decide if he wanted to bring a child into his life? He’d already managed the part about falling in love anyway.
He spat and straightened up again, wiping a hand over his parched lips. Even in his head, his voice sounded bitter as he answered his own question: Because it was his duty to carry and bear children. After all, only a small percentage of women and men could get pregnant and make sure the human species would continue to exist. Damn that Third World War with all its chemical and biological weapons, killing millions of people and causing whole countries to be uninhabitable for centuries. All those dead people just because two governments were stuck in a power play over territories at their borders.
Sometimes Luca wondered if it wouldn’t have been better if the scientists hadn’t been able to work their magic and keep a small percentage of women fertile and give men with the right genetic structure the chance to become pregnant. But that was a moot point. Luca was a breeder, and society expected him to deliver children. There was nothing he could do about it.
The chance of being loved for himself—as the person Luca, not the breeder Luca—was slim. Incredibly slim, even. As soon as someone knew he was a breeder, they either handled him with kid gloves or with disgust. Everyone did, except for Marcus Gray. Luca ran a trembling hand through his hair.
He wouldn’t think about Marcus now, or the fact he’d had the best sex of his life with the burly bodyguard a couple days ago. It had been the first time someone had held him in powerful arms without thinking twice about whether Luca would break. It had also been the first time strong emotions had been involved.
“Fuck this shit.” Luca aimed for a firm voice, but instead he sounded wheezy and… small.
Shoving all thoughts about his upcoming marriage, his parents’ disappointment, and Marcus aside, he surveyed the walls around him. Or what was left of them. Next time he decided to run away, he’d make sure the small plane was fueled. Although breeders weren’t allowed to fly a plane or helicopter, just one more measure to keep them safe and reduce the risk of any breeder accidentally dying, Luca knew enough to use the autostart sequence and autopilot. Sometimes it paid to belong to a highly valued family. He probably should’ve learned more, though. He’d freaked when the alarm blared in the small plane, showing the empty fuel tanks. Somehow he’d managed to find the right buttons on his console, which was the sole reason why the emergency landing had been successful. If it had been left up to him, he’d be dead now.
Luca closed his eyes but quickly disabused himself of this notion when he swayed. He’d gotten incredibly lucky that the autopilot had managed to find a small clearing within the Palatine Forest of what had, two hundred years ago, been part of Germany, and brought him down in one piece. He didn’t mind the hike after he’d left the wreckage, as the area was beautiful, especially now in early autumn with brightly colored leaves scattered everywhere.
However, the damn tower really could’ve kept a little while longer. He’d only wanted to get a good look around to better decide which direction he should go. He might not want to go back to his parents right away, but he needed food and shelter, which meant he needed to find some sort of civilization. Only there could he get something to eat that wasn’t contaminated. He should’ve just stayed at home. Smith wasn’t due for another couple of days, so why had he freaked so badly?
Luca shoved his bangs out of his eyes with more force than necessary, and at the same time he bit down on his lower lip to prevent himself from talking aloud. He was trying to wean himself off this bad habit he fell into when he was stressed. Especially because he knew the reason for his freak-out only too well. Marcus Gray—the man he’d slowly fallen in love with over the last year and who seemed to reciprocate his feelings even though he claimed to be too old for Luca. Nine years wasn’t that much of a difference, though, at least not in Luca’s opinion. Everything had been going great. Right until they’d had sex.
“This is a mistake” had been Marcus’s words. New tears prickled Luca’s eyes. “Stupid. How could I’ve been so stupid?”
He slowly turned, inspecting the damage around him. He’d been on his way up the tower when the damn thing crumpled. The rest of the decayed castle seemed to hold up fine while he was stuck. The top part had come down around him, and he had no idea how to get farther down. The opening leading to the ladder he’d used to come up was blocked by piles of rock. What would happen if he pulled the rocks away?
He carefully picked his way to the edge of the tower walls, holding out his arms to keep his balance against the wind, which blew in heavy gusts, and stared down. “Okay, fine, climbing down the outside would be suicidal without rope.”
He walked back to the center, crouched down, and started lifting rocks aside, so he could find the opening. His stomach clenched painfully several times, and he rubbed soothing circles over the taut muscles, hoping to ease the tension there. Surely the tower wouldn’t collapse completely just because he shifted some rocks….
When he found the opening, he dug faster, excitement and relief bubbling to the surface. He tilted his head to the side, trying to make sense of what he saw. Where once had been an iron ladder bolted to the rock, there was just… a mess. Blinking, he fought a battle against a sudden quell of nausea. Rocks must’ve smashed the ladder’s bolts because the ladder hung askew to one side.
Luca lay on his stomach and reached out for the top rung. The lightest touch of his fingers caused the ladder to swing back and forth. “Oh, come on, please. Don’t do this to me.”
After grabbing the top rung and leaning it against the opening’s edge, Luca rolled to his knees. This was an iron ladder, it wouldn’t spontaneously combust. Only one question remained: would the ladder stay upright when he got on it or not? Given that there wasn’t much space for the ladder to tip aside, he’d have to risk it.
Sitting on the opening’s edge, his legs dangling in the air, Luca tried to summon up the courage to step onto the freaking ladder, when the rotor blades of a helicopter sliced through the air. He lifted his head to find the source of the noise, and his heart stumbled. The heli wore the dark blue triangles of the Northern Confederacy.
The heli hovered above him and the side door slid open, revealing Marcus in his charcoal fatigues. His dark brown hair fell onto his forehead, softening the impact of his granite expression. Luca was glad he couldn’t look into Marcus’s light gray eyes right now.
“Don’t move!” Marcus hollered.
MARCUS RAPPELLED off and stepped onto the ground with a crunch of his boots. Pointing at the opening with the askew ladder, he asked, “Don’t tell me you seriously considered climbing down this way.”
Luca shrugged. “I’d have preferred spontaneous levitation, but it didn’t happen.”
He yelped when Marcus put an arm around his torso and lifted him to his feet, as if he weighed nothing. “Hey!”
Marcus silenced him with a glare, and Luca gritted his teeth while Marcus thumped dust off his clothes. “Your father is livid.”
Luca swallowed. He’d expected worried, maybe a bit mad, but livid? His father never got furious at him. Not for long, anyway. Being the baby of the family had its perks. “Why?”
“Why? Seriously, Luca, you have to ask why?” Marcus patted Luca’s behind more firmly than was strictly necessary.
Luca shifted, trying to get away from Marcus’s arm. When that didn’t help, he slapped Marcus’s hands away and stepped aside. He couldn’t think when he was so close to Marcus—when the man touched him, he sent shivers up and down his spine. He ignored the glower Marcus directed at him. “Yes, seriously. He knows I don’t want to marry Smith. I don’t want anything to do with all that shit. I want to decide what I’m going to do with my life.”
Marcus shook his head. “Smith is a good man. My brother Kyle worked for him. He said he always treated his people well. If you want, I could try to get Kyle on the phone so you can talk to him. That is, if I can get a hold on him. Trust me, you’ll be in good hands.”
“You don’t get it! I don’t want to be in good hands!”
“No?” Marcus raised an eyebrow.
Luca huffed, a small smile forming on his lips. “Well, yes, of course I want to be in good hands. But I want someone to love me, and not just for my ability to become pregnant. I want… you.”
Luca’s heart thundered in his rib cage. There, he’d said it. The ball was in Marcus’s court. Sure, it had only been one night, and Marcus’s reaction afterward hadn’t been promising, but maybe he’d just been scared? Maybe he feared losing his job? Nonetheless, there was more going on between them, and they both knew it. That one night had just been the last logical step. Luca regretted nothing.
For a moment Marcus seemed startled, and there was a softness in his eyes that was solely reserved for Luca. The softness vanished too quickly for Luca’s liking.
Instead, Luca was greeted with Marcus’s usual, scrutinizing gaze. “You don’t want me, and you better never mention this again. It was a mistake. Now get it out of your head and be a good boy.”
“Be a good boy?” Luca sputtered.
Heat suffused his cheeks as he stared at Marcus. Had he really misread the man so badly? Marcus had been assigned as one of his bodyguards about a year ago. Right away there’d been a spark of attraction, an easy companionship. A few days ago, they’d given in to the temptation, and it had been everything Luca had ever desired. Since then, his whole life seemed to blow up in his face. He balled his hands into fists, his nails digging deep into the tender flesh of his palms, anything to stop himself from begging Marcus to take his words back.
Marcus beckoned for Luca to come closer. “Come on now, kitten, your father—”
“Do not call me that. Never again,” Luca hissed.
“What?” Marcus’s eyebrows furrowed.
“To you I’m Luca or Mr. Walker, understood? I’m sure you’ll also understand that I have no need of your service anymore, so fuck the hell off!” Anger rolled through Luca, making it impossible for him to keep his voice level.
“I’m not going to fuck off until I’ve gotten you into the helicopter and delivered you safely to your parents,” Marcus said, his voice steady. “I doubt they’ll agree to lay me off right now. There’s no one who’s better at tracking you when you lose your shit.”
Luca’s jaw dropped. How could Marcus be so arrogant? Fuming, Luca lowered himself to the ground close to the opening. As he swung his legs into the hole, his gut clenched. He doubled over and beads of sweat trickled down his neck and along his spine, leaving a trail of goose bumps in their wake.
Marcus’s boots crunched through the debris as he hurried to Luca’s side. He wrapped a heavily muscled arm around Luca. “Don’t,” Marcus whispered in his ear, the light gust of air sending a shiver through Luca’s body. A shiver Marcus had to surely feel, and there was nothing Luca could do against it.
“If you fall, you’ll be dead, and I have no desire to explain to your father why you thought jumping into an opening with a ladder that’s a suicide mission waiting to happen would be a better idea than coming home with me.”
“Thanks so much for your concern,” Luca spat out.
Marcus’s scruffy cheek pressed against Luca’s equally unshaven one. A moment later, soft but firm lips pressed a kiss to the left corner of his mouth.
Luca gasped and clutched the arm holding him. “Marcus….”
“You’ll be all right, Luca. Smith is a good man, and he’ll treat you well.”
“You’re a good man too,” Luca replied, past caring how pathetic he sounded.
Marcus exhaled before he said in a voice that brooked no further argument, “This discussion is closed. There’s a marriage agreement between the two of you.”
“Because I had no other choice!”
“Most breeders don’t have a choice in the matter. You’ve been lucky your father is who he is and that there’s a long tradition of strong breeders in your family. Your dad is one of Earth’s most renowned scientists, and he’s a breeder too, therefore their opinion matters. Otherwise you’d have been married off at twenty, you know that. You’ve been prepared your whole life, so why are you freaking out now?” Marcus pulled Luca away from the opening.
“I want what my father and my dad have,” Luca answered. Not to mention that he wanted Marcus, not anyone else.
“They got lucky,” Marcus replied. “At your age, your dad had already given birth to three babies.”
Luca tipped his head back so it rested on Marcus’s shoulder. “I’m scared.”
He was scared of the things to come: to leave his family and start one of his own. He’d been the baby of the family, and he’d taken advantage of that fact. His parents had made it easy for him, since they knew he’d be their last child. That he looked a lot like his dad probably helped a great deal in convincing his father of anything he wanted as well. And his dad? His dad was his dad; everyone loved him, much as he liked to drive everyone up the wall with his antics.
Luca closed his eyes when Marcus gave him a gentle hug. He clung tightly to Marcus, relishing his warmth and strength.
I'm not a big fan of Mpreg stories because they are often ridiculously unrealistic but I am a HUGE fan of Chris T. Kat so I decided to give Mending the Rift a chance and I'm so glad I did! I immediately fell in love with Luca, Marcus and Luca's dads. I was hooked from the first paragraph and it got better with each page. The world building is unique, relatable and continues to develop as the story progresses.
My OFFICIAL REVIEW written for Carly’s Book Reviews.
Book – Mending the Rift
Author – Chris T. Kat
Star rating - ?????
No. of Pages - 214
Movie Potential – ?????
Ease of reading – very easy to read and follow
Would I read it again – Hell Yes!
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine
This one blew me away. All the m-preg stories I've read before have only ever involved skimming past the pregnancy stage or the birth itself. This story is so completely well rounded that I goggled at some of the negative reviews in astonishment! While a part of me violently wants to argue and find out what is wrong with people who didn't LOVE this book to pieces, I'll refrain and only say my piece.
To start with, the world that is created here – a divided world between Northern Confederate and the Southern Union, whether the world has taken extreme scientific leeway to create male and female “breeders” to keep the population alive – is so well thought out and accomplished that it was like being transported into another world. However, on the same note, there are such normal things that we're all comfortable with, that the story never feels too foreign or too out of the realm of possibilities. We're well acquainted with the idea of a Norther Confederate and Southern Union idea, as well as a Third World War laying waste to millions of life and causing reactions that severely damage the human population. Sadly, all these things have a basis in real history, so it's not hard to imagine it happening again.
As for the relationship between Marcus and Luca; I've seen complaints in reviews about how they're already a couple and there's no build up of a relationships, but I have to seriously agree here. It doesn't feel like we've missed all the awkward to-and-fro of their get-together, because they're NOT a couple at the beginning of the book. They've developed feelings and only ever acted on it once. A situation which – because of Luca having had other sexual relationships and because male breeders need to be inseminated, not have sex, to have kids – has no real bearing on their future together. Neither does it secure their future or imply they'll ever have one.
That was the really interesting part for me. I love established couples, new couples and such, but we rarely see couples like this, who have hidden feelings, have acted on it but know they can't be together. That's a journey right there and it was one that kept me hooked right from the start, because there was this constant wonder of whether Luca would get his Happily Ever After or not.
The story began with a tight grip, hooking me from the first paragraph, until I couldn't – and literally, didn't – put it down unless I desperately had to. I read it in one day, in one sitting, and my only regret is that it's over and there's not another one in the series to pick up yet.
There is so much detail in every important aspect, that it would be impossible to describe how well formed this world became. From the pregnancy, the world, the mood swings, the action and the entire concept of the breeders, were all thoroughly encapsulated into understandable, relateable ideas and reactions.
When the story progressed and Luca endured everything he did in the Southern Union, I cried my eyes out for the cruelty, the brutality and the lack of respect for human life. Yet, all these things are frighteningly based on real things that will be happening to people in the world today or have happened in the past. Even when the painful parts were over, Luca still encountered flashbacks, problems, nerves, fear and all those natural feelings that come with his experiences.
As for the characters, I loved them all. Luca, Nicholas, Greg, Kyle and Keith were amazing. Marcus was a bit macho for me at times, while I felt weird for actually liking Smith and knowing he had an ulterior motive for what he was doing. I really loved Marcus' nickname for Luca too; kitten. I've never seen that in a book before, but it's adorable.
“A kitten with claws, I see.”
And...that's all. I can't tell you any more about it, except that you HAVE to read it and find out for yourself. There were too many feels in this for me to describe how it made me feel or what I loved most. Nearly all of what I'd want to tell you would be spoilers and I don't want to spoil this for you. It's too good for that. So go read it. Then you'll understand.
Overall, the story was so adorable that when I wasn't smiling my through pages and pages of drama, I was clutching my Kindle tight, hoping the actions scenes would be resolved quickly.
This one was a little bundle of action packed goodies, with a sweet romance, trouble-making family members and a whole lot of drama thrown into the mix.
I will now be seeking out every other book by this author and purging on them all!
“Marcus. That was Marcus' voice. Luca's lower lip trembled in utter relief. He was safe. He had to be.”
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