As the tagline says - "There are no bad guys or good guys. There are only better guys and worse guys." Warrick being one of the better guys and Toreth being one of the worse guys. It's a world where dissent is dealt with through 're-education' and those lucky enough to have corporate status can live a relatively nice life as long as they keep the party line.
Told mainly from the point of view of Toreth, this allows us an incredible insight into his perspective. What you don't appreciate here (until you've read the later stories and then come back and re-read this one) is how multilayered the characters are. As readers we really only scratch the surface here, each book, each story takes you deeper into the world.
Manna Francis is a brilliant writer (excuse the bias) she makes you side with Toreth, appreciate how compelling he is as a character, yet at the same time she doesn't hide what he is. He's a sociopath (this is explored in more detail in later books), he interrogates people for a living (including torture), he'll virtually screw anything with a pulse, he uses people unapologetically but there is something about him that fascinates. Toreth is perhaps not as clever as Warrick on an intellectual level (Warrick is a genius after all) but he has a survival instinct that rivals a cornered wolf.
Keir Warrick is less well defined. We learn he is calm, self-controlled and precise and perhaps prefers to play the game with the deck stacked in his favour. One of the things that maybe pulls Toreth towards Warrick is that occasionally the other man surprises him. That he is unpredictable.
Mind Fuck might at first seem quite a provocative title. But it actually has multiple meanings. As well as being slang for the psychoprogramming department (the department responsible for reeducation), it sums up the initial relationship between Warrick and Toreth. And Toreth says to Warrick in their first conversation together.
"I fuck minds."Warrick however is not easily intimidated - perhaps part of what attracts Toreth - and his corporation is developing a form of virtual reality known as the Sim, so he later responds:-
"Come and experience the future of mind fucking..."This continues...
"...you told me you rape minds."This is quite a good example of how their relationship is one of shifting power dynamics and oneupmanship. Toreth himself doesn't see, or doesn't want to see how attached (not the right word but I can't think of a better one) he is to Warrick. As readers we see this more through the eyes of other characters - Marian
"I said, 'I fuck minds,' I think you'll find."
Warrick shrugged. "It's all in the inflection, really."
Toreth was manipulative and dangerous, and Warrick understood him perfectly.and Toreth's admin Sara.
This is not a romance. It is erotic. It is the story of the beginnings of a relationship between two people. By relationship I mean an interaction which has the potential to become something more. It's probably the best book I've read this year and I fear my review has not done it justice. I love the Administration Series and hope there will be many more books to come.
* I think this has to be the most times I've used the word fuck in a review.