As a paramedic, Alaina Stafford knew that every shift would have its surprises. But being abducted by alien slave traders? There’s no amount of preparation for that kind of surprise.
Before she can wrap her head around it, Alaina is sold at a high-dollar auction to be the new “donara” for a powerful, wealthy Errai family. It doesn’t take long to find out what a “donara” is…it’s the reward for the gladiator who wins in the Arena.
Alaina is to be the victor’s prize.
Vega is the House favorite among the slave warriors, and crowds come from across the galaxy to watch him in the Arena. Unlike the other fighters, he’s not swayed by the promise of winning this strange human woman. His real prize—his freedom—is within his grasp, and he won’t be distracted from the chance to return home by some fragile but exotic beauty from a planet called Earth.
But there’s a vicious political power play at hand, and both Vega and Alaina stand to lose everything. Thrown together and forced to rely on each other, they soon realize that love may actually be worth dying for.
This title. Cringe. I look at these titles through my fingers when I click to buy this book or books like them. I remind my self that they aren't any worse that Harlequin Presents or some contemporary titles (My Bearded Billionaire Stepbrother) and that they are just trying to pick up on search hits. But still, so so awful. I feel like a trash picker looking for treasure.
This book is a find. It is really really good. Thank you, Kindle Unlimited. Thank you, Science Fiction Alien Romance Craving and Binge.
Here is the things that could have been better: We get a nice Epilogue HEA but given the grimness of most of the story (slavery is ugly), I really think everyone had earned some chapters living on a free planet and adapting to this other cultural and space as a married couple.
The timeline of the plot is a bit scrunched for the falling in love. If it had been over months rather than weeks, the book would have been stronger. Yes, more horrors would have been likely to befall our leads (the heroine gets off relativity light which I am fine with but it isn't believable and could have been done off stage and the hero's and heroine's trauma could have been a great plot to deal with in later chapters set on the hero's home world)
Those things would have made this very good science fiction romance a read over and over book rather than a Wow, I really enjoyed that book.
What was so good?
The world building is well done. The heroine is taken from earth and sold into slavery into a three alien cultured space where proxy wars are fought in an Arena over all conflicts. The slavery is both indentured and chattel. The writer does a wonderful job of showing how power corrupts and the different ways slaves adapt. The gladiator culture and setting is detailed but the riveting aspect of the book is the psychological landscape of high and low slaves, owners, and freed people.
More time could have been spent on the distinct culture of each alien race of the other aspects of the world were well drawn.
The hero's struggles with his enslavement are particular well down. He has been indentured a good long time trying to free his planet and he does not escape all the webs of being an owned person internally or externally. He is a wonderfully cynical, pragmatic, and centered person.
I adore how there are secondary characters that seem evil but are really shown as products of the system. The owners being less complicated in this way than some other slaves that become allies.
As I said, because of the timeline the heroine suffers less from the system but she is stripped of personhood. Her fight against is impractical at times but true to her personality. She gets to remain a medic as well as being an exotic species and this grounds her.
The love story is believable if needing more time than a longer timeline would provide.
I am looking forward to reading more books by this writer who has such a fine hand for the heart of what it means to be human (or alien).