I love an epic fantasy. I love science fiction. And I love this cover! There are a whole lot of other things that I love about this book, but there’s chemistry, drama, adventure and so much to love all within just a little over two hundred pages. Fabulous!
Two very different civilizations—one bathed in bright sunlight, and the other veiled in shadow.
Bad decisions, declining resources, and a king on the brink of madness force Prince Varo Kutchif, third son of the royal family and a starship captain, to attempt the impossible: barter for Black Phospolrock, an energy source the mysterious Helkan kingdom has in abundance. Varo opens a line of communication with Adlar, an intriguing Helkan who seems to reciprocate Varo’s interest. He hopes so, because if negotiations collapse, Varo has orders to attack.
The Helkans preside over a planet shrouded in perpetual darkness. Several species have tried to exploit its natural resources through trade with them, but all have failed. Adlar Mondur is the older brother to the Helkan ruler. An assassin of the highest order, he’ll do anything to protect his king and his people—including tracking down the Yesri prince who crash-lands on their planet, leaving an ugly scar across its untouched beauty.
Thus begins a journey where two men from disparate civilizations grow from enemies to lovers.
M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!
When not writing, she’s on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown children.
Member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
This was an epic fantasy of mass proportion, with science fiction space lingo that was understandable, characters who were loveable and relateable as well as a romance that ticked my heart with affection.
I’m a sucker for both fantasy and science fiction, so the combination of vampire-like Helkan’s – with fangs and a need for blood – and the fey-like appearance was awesome. Add in the slightly more human-like Yesri and it was a recipe for greatness. The volatile situation between their people, the way Helkan’s were considered animals and the way Varo had been treated by his family – his father in particular – offered up the perfect blend of circumstances to open Varo’s mind and allow the events after his capture to take place. The transition was believable fraught with tension, conflict and resistance, though there were also those lovely moments of submission, of not having anything left to fight with and, of course, Adlar’s very skilful seductions breaking down Varo’s barriers.
The chemistry was palpable; so real and explored in a way that made sense. Instant attraction and lust grew slowly for Varo, guided by events, feelings and the isolation they enjoyed in their first few days together. After that, when others got involved, it was great to see how Adlar suddenly realised everything that Varo had been struggling with and responded accordingly. At the same time, I love how they were both quite clear with each other as to the boundaries that could and couldn’t be crossed. It was heart-warming to see the Master/slave relationship turned on it’s head and become something much deeper than is common for the theme; even when Adlar had every reason to doubt, when others told him he was wrong and his trust was misplaced, he didn’t doubt Varo for a minute.
The drama and danger were realistic and believable, as well as a great way to provide conflict and wrap up the lingering questions about Varo’s family back in Yesri.
The dual POV was fantastic for displaying both sides of the story without ever having the need to repeat scenes in both POV’s to show both sides. The characters of Varo, Adlar, as well as Omori and the nature of the Helkan’s was made so vivid and clear that it was easy to interpret their reactions, a small word here, a look there, and figure out their feelings on matters that weren’t shown in their POV. I was never left wondering about anything and all the questions I had about what happened right from page 1 were answered by the end of the story.
As well as incredible characterisation, great attention to detail with the descriptions, locations and starship/space aspects, there was an impressive level of world building that made everything visual and real, without leaving items unexplained or mysterious.
There was hot, sexiness, sharp wits, exhilarating arguments, seduction and so much more in the space of just over 200 pages. Yet, the story was fully complete, leaving me with no sense of needing more to explain or wrap up the story. Though I would definitely love to see Wrief’s story, because I’m intrigued by these Orh’Neonian’s (winged telepaths), that’s just me being eager to read more of this world and these characters.
In short, it had absolutely everything I could want and nothing I didn’t. As my first book by this author, I’ll be eagerly delving into more soon.
“The tremble that threatened to shake Varo’s frame caught him off guard. The look in that gaze was a mixture of scorching heat and frosty coolness – a predator who had Varo in his sights. The danger he felt flamed his body.”
“Never was he so glad to be in enemy hands.”