Book 1: To The Highest Bidder
The Intergalactic Star Pilot Academy has accepted Thierry Leroux into the elite class of sky year 2231. But the academy comes with a hefty price tag, and there’s no way he, a poor Sythe orphan, has the credits the academy requires. Thierry’s brother, Corbin, a high-class companion, suggests Thierry sell his virginity for the cost of tuition. It seems like a ridiculous idea, but it may be Thierry’s only shot, so Thierry asks Corbin to arrange a meeting on the pleasure planet of Wish.
On Wish, Thierry meets Corbin’s boss, Monroe, and they agree to auction off Thierry’s virginity. Thierry is grateful to the masked buyer he knows only as “Dragonfly,” and Dragonfly is gentle, making Thierry’s first time a good memory. When Dragonfly requests to see him again, and pay for the pleasure, Thierry returns to Wish. But in this game, falling in love is dangerous for the heart, and Thierry might not like the man behind the mask.
Book 2: Fantasy For A Gentleman
For two decades Corbin Leroux has worked on the planet Wish as a high-priced companion. He loves his life where physical pleasure is encouraged and has no intention of quitting it. Corbin sees his clients almost as part of his family. Not even when bounty hunter Emmanuel Leoniste comes to kill him will Corbin roll over and give up his lifestyle.
Despite being a hired killer, Emmanuel lives by a strict moral code. Killing whores is acceptable, and easy. Or it was until he met up with Corbin. Worn down by the pesky Corbin’s resolve, Emmanuel accepts Corbin’s bribe and calls off the hit. But the truce might not last. Emmanuel’s mounting desires for Corbin cause problems. He refuses to allow anyone close enough to become intimate with him, especially someone like Corbin. Yet with each smile and soft kiss, Emmanuel’s emotional shield is dismantled piece by piece.
Book – To The Highest Bidder (A Planet Called Wish #1)
Author – Caitlin Ricci
Star rating – ★★★★★
No. of Pages – 200
Movie Potential – ★★★★★
Ease of reading – very easy to read and follow
Would I read it again – Definitely!
I fell in love with this book right from the start. This is a high fantasy, truly beautiful May-Decemer love story. The cover is stunning and what’s inside is even better.
To understand most of what I’m going to talk about, you’ll have to know what the book is about. It’s a little more complicated than the blurb entails, so stick with me:
Thierry is a 20 year old kid, who lives with his brother. He’s just been accepted into a prestigious school, to become a pilot, which is his dream. To pay for it, his brother Corbin (a high end escort called an aspasian) sends him to his boss, Monroe, who helps arrange an auction, to sell Thierry’s virginity. (Don’t worry. I know it sounds weird on paper, but the way it’s written, it actually makes perfect sense.) After the auction is won by the highest bidder (see where the title comes in?) they have their night together.
One night becomes letters, that his mystery man, only named Dragonfly (after a tattoo), requests and is willing to pay for. For each letter, Thierry gets money. But a bond forms, through those letters. With random visits (once a month) they see each other again, for dinner and sex. Dragonfly never talks or reveals himself, and finally Thierry loses patience. He whips off Dragonfly’s mask during one visit and the reveal of his true identity is shocking!
As a 1st person POV, I was apprehensive. This style and I do not always get alone. It takes a very special writer and a very special story for me to like a 1st person, but this one did it. I barely remembered that it was a 1st person, because the story took over.
I initially cringed at the very idea of Corbin encouraging his younger brother to sell his virginity, to pay for pilot school, but the way the story is written gives the choice more credence. The Planet of Wish is a pleasure planet, where all the best brothels are. On it is the brothel Asiq, where Corbin works for Monroe. Both are equally important characters to Thierry and Dragonfly. Though the story is all about Thierry and Dragonfly’s relationship, Monroe and Corbin are very important, both in this book and towards the next.
I love how proud Corbin is of his job. Although he’s naturally more included towards feeling emotions (see explanation below about Sythes) I like that it’s not about how the job feels for him, but what he does. He helps people, in many ways, and that’s what keeps him loyal to Asiq. But, at the same time, as well as being the best in Asiq because of this enjoyment of his work, you get this really strong sense that he’d do anything for Thierry. Especially to get him his dream job.
There is such brilliant detail and creativity in this story. Not only in the back story of each character, but in the development of the world, the imagery of the travel between planets, as well as the entire concept. In any other book, the ideas inside this story might seem fantastical, unbelievable or just plain weird. But here, they work. They work really, really well. Nothing is over-emphasised, over-done or too dramatic or fantastical. Everything is perfectly balanced.
I did have to admit that I got a very slight hint of a dom/sub relationship, whether it was meant or not. For me, it just came across as a possibility that never went anywhere, though that’s not a bad thing. It started percolating when Dragonfly made Thierry sit at his feet while he ate, then pinged again when Dragonfly sent Thierry a bracelet (with a tracker, camera etc) that would keep him safe. It felt as though these were small things that might suggest Dragonfly was training Thierry to be more submissive, but, like I said, it never went anywhere. They were nice touches though.
When it came time for the big reveal of who Dragonfly really was, I’ll admit, I hadn’t really thought about who it might be. I was too wrapped up in the fact they were in love with each other and it was all so mysterious. But, when I found it, it was a total AHA! moment. Suddenly, certain moments that had preceded the reveal began to make sense. But, it was also really sad, because Thierry was so upset and things just went downhill after that.
I love Thierry, our MC. He’s innocent, naive and completely unprepared for the world he’s stepping into. Naturally, Thierry has some hesitations about the auction, which are nicely written, with real authenticity. Thierry is a Sythe, which means he’s purple (think the cover) and feels emotions more highly than any other species. That makes him ideal to be an aspasian, but even more expensive as a one time experience, for selling his virginity. The constant doubt and confusion over what he’s done and the brief moments of shame are understandable, especially in his situation – wanting desperately to afford pilot school, but not wanting anyone to know how he had to pay for it. He’s a sheltered, very gentle soul and I fell in love with him right away.
As his brother, Corbin is a more open character. Emotionally closed off, he’s happy to live his life as an aspasian and help anyone he can, with his work. Since it’s not all about sex, we readers can see the side of it that he likes and it’s written in a way that makes everything the aspasians do perfectly natural and okay. Even if it was all about sex, we know that Corbin is happy with that life. I love how strong his relationship with Thierry is, as well. There’s nothing they wouldn’t do for each other.
Monroe, the owner of a brothel (for want of a better word) is actually a wonderful character. He’s gentle and kind, protective and quite the father figure to the men who work for him. He takes care of Thierry, as he enters into this unfamiliar world.
The last big character is Dragonfly. I loved him, even though he never said anything. And I mean that literally. He never spoke in the entire book. He wrote letters to Thierry which were heartfelt, sweet and encouraging. The chemistry they shared, both in person and in those letters, is beautiful. It made me smile every time they were together. The small smiles, the gentleness of their physical times together, were equally matched by the heat and the desperate need to be together.
For me, this was more of a love story than some I’ve read recently. The fantasy elements were perfect and the plotting was genius. There wasn’t one thing I didn’t like about it.
The ending was beautiful and perfect for the characters and the situation they were in. The Epilogue had me in tears with relief and joy. It’s a very wonderful, innocent love story that wasn’t at all what I was expecting. But I loved every minute of it. The best part is that the story is complete as it is, though I’ll definitely be reading book 2, which focuses on Corbin’s love life. I’m so excited to get started and I really hope there are more books in the series…like…about ten more!
I never want it to end.
“A gentle hug between comrades turned into a kiss between friends. And then I knew I had found my way home as his skin touched mine, and I was once again his.”
Book – Fantasy for a Gentleman (A Planet Called Wish #2)
Author – Caitlin Ricci
Star rating – ★★★★☆
No. of Pages – 200
Movie Potential – ★★★★☆
Ease of reading – fairly easy, but with some grammar problems
Would I read it again – Yes!
** I WAS GIVEN THIS BOOK, BY THE AUTHOR, IN RETURN FOR AN HONEST REVIEW **
Reviewed for Divine Magazine
WARNING: If you haven’t read book 1 first, STOP. Go back. Start with book 1. Not only will this one make more sense to you, but by reading this first, it will ruin the surprise of who Thierry’s Dragonfly really is. You have been warned!
There isn’t the same tenderness to this story, as there was in Book 1, because Corbin isn’t that kind of guy. In this Enemies to Lovers story, both MC’s are in their forties. While Thierry was the innocent to Dragonfly’s experience, in book 1, Corbin is the one with all the experience and the man he’s trying to snag, Emmanuel, is the one uncertain in the ways of physical expression and sex.
In this way, both books are quite similar, but brilliant and unique in their own way. But I’d have liked to see some more continuity between them. This story takes place about a year or two before the Epilogue of book 1 and doesn’t actually reach the point of the Epilogue’s timeline. I hope this means there are more books to come (I’d love to see Arin’s story and Resan’s) so that we can finally see their future together, rather than a short, rushed reunion in an epilogue.
Both MC’s are in their forties, so it was really nice to read a dynamic between two strong characters, both equally bullheaded and stubborn, who have been around long enough to know the deal. The chemistry didn’t suffer for this at all. In fact, it benefited from it.
My one complaint about their age is that Corbin never read like a forty-year-old. He read more like a reckless twenty-year-old, who was still as wild as ever. This wouldn’t normally have bothered me except for the fact that he read as very naive, weak and vulnerable a lot of the time, then we were expected to believe he could fight and take care of himself at others. His character was more inconsistent here, than he was in book 1, which resulted in me dropping a half star from the rating.
The other half star disappeared, because of the problems I noticed. There were some grammar/sentence issues (missing full stops, extra words that made no sense) as well as the – again, the only suitable word – inconsistencies in the story. Too often, phrases and explanations were repeated, often in the exact words. This never happened in book 1 and it’s possible they won’t be there in this one, as this is an ARC and they may have been fixed by now. Either way, I have to mention them and rate according to what I’m reading.
A few examples of the repeats:
Corbin works at Asiq for two weeks, goes home for two weeks
Sythe’s feel more acutely than any other species, which is mentioned a lot and also mentioned once or twice in book 1
Corbin loves his job and would never give it up – repeated a lot
Emmanuel thinks Corbin is a whore
being an aspacian is about fulfilling fantasies.
I also don’t think the cover and title are as appropriate as the first. Maybe I’m wrong to compare, but a series should always have continuity and that doesn’t happen here. The cover is nice, but not as knockout or emotion-filled as the first and the title doesn’t work for me. Book 1’s title was obvious and clear, all the way through. I’m still left scratching my head over this one. It doesn’t fit the plot the same.
I’m also confused by Thierry and Monroe’s relationship. In the previous book, we were led to believe that they had no contact during Thierry’s time away, as a pilot, but in this story, we’re told that they had regular chats, vidchats and coms to each other. That makes the Epilogue of the previous book make less, since the doubt that Thierry would ever return would never have been there, had we known about this continued contact. Especially since some of it sounds less than innocent.
Corbin is less attractive and more pushy than the first book, acting more like a teenager than a forty-year-old sometimes. But, as the main character, he’s still compelling. When he’s in danger, I’m worried; when he’s sad, I’m sad; and that’s all that I ask.
Emmanuel is a very complicated, mysterious character. I like him, except for the fact that he continually calls Corbin a whore. He’s an unusual love interest, but one that fits with Corbin’s personality and lifestyle.
I really love that Monroe is back, but sad to see that he and Thierry are relegated more to the background than Corbin was, in their story. I was really hoping this would have them already back together again, as following the Epilogue of book 1, but it didn’t and that was disappointing. We barely got to see any of their real personality shine through.
I’m intrigued by Arin, who was only it in for a second, and Resan, who was Emmanuel’s friend. I’d very much like to see both of them get their stories. And to find out more about how Corbin and Emmanuel’s story progresses.
For me, the consistency just isn’t there with this one. That’s why I removed a star. It could have been amazing, with the inconsistencies fixed and the Thierry/Monroe relationship treated differently. I was also really surprised by the sudden twist at the very end of the story. It was ‘sudden’ in all meanings of the word and not what I thought Corbin would have wanted.
Still, all of that aside, it was still a fantastic story. I laughed, I cried and I wanted Corbin to have his HEA, which I see him having. The same level of detail and creativity for the world was in this story, but not for the plot. It could have been a tightly held together as book 1, with some adapting, but I won’t hold that against it.
I’d still read whatever book(s) comes next with a voracious need to find out what’s going to happen next. And who the book might be about. Again, I hope this series doesn’t end at two books. I could read many, many more to come.
“A whore can make you come, an aspasian can make you feel loved, wanted, as if for that hour or two you’re all that exists in their world.”