It was supposed to be a simple job. Grab some specimens from Earth and sell them on the interstellar black markets. In and out, with no one the wiser, except Tren accidentally abducts a human.
A barbaric female, who doesn't know how to be quiet and obey. That will affect her selling price especially since she only possesses two breasts, and a single mouth. Yet, in spite of her shortcomings there is something about her spitfire nature that intrigues him.
Maybe he should keep her. He's definitely not keen on getting rid of her after he seduces her.
A space pirate doesn't usually fall in love, but when an enemy decides to take Megan, Tren realizes he will do anything to get her back.
Our young heroine is snatched off the street on her way to school and kept in captivity to await the birth of her baby. She's sixteen and seven months pregnant. Once the baby is born it will be sold on and her body will be dumped in a disused quarry full of water. That would be enough to terrify the wits out of anybody else but this girl is different. This girl is highly intelligent with an in-depth knowledge of the sciences. She has an analytical mind and uniquely (and usefully) can turn her emotions on and off at will. This means she spends her 33 days of captivity weighing up her assets and planning her escape and revenge on her captors. It won't be pretty...
I wasn't sure what to expect from this one, reviews were ambivalent. I thought it was going to be a straight forward thriller, which, in a way, I suppose it was, but the victim was unusual. I admit the story is pretty far-fetched but it acknowledges that - all I can say is pink bear. It is fun though so why not? The idea of a cool and calculating 16 year old girl who doesn't desperately scream for rescue or quail at the presence of her captors is quite unnerving, as her abductors soon find out. And she doesn't just leave it at escaping, she is playing the long game. I really enjoyed it for the unusual up-beat writing style and the even more unusual victim. Revenge is sweet!
"One thing that they don't tell you is that fires can't burn bright forever."
All the reviews for this book are like "OMG, I'm a blubbering mess." and "OMG, don't read any spoilers.".
So yeah, you REALLY shouldn't read any spoilers and just go along for the ride.
But there are two things that I just want to point out anyway:
1. TJ Klune has always been a great writer, but he outdid himself with this one. The writing quality is excellent, and given the heaviness of the story, it was beautiful, tasteful and one of the best-written books I've ever read.
2. Since everyone is recommending to avoid spoilers at any costs and go in blindly, I still feel like this book could have used a trigger warning, given the main target of M/M readers:
READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!
Trigger warning: abduction of a family member, with no final conclusion or explanation to the disappearance or the whereabouts
So while a romance this is NOT, the writing and the revelation of bits of information a little at a time totally worked for me. This has been one of the darkest and most depressing books I've ever read. But I'm glad that I did, because not everything in life is just rainbows, kittens and sunshine.
Oh, and just to be clear: there's a tentative HFN, so this can still be considered as a romance. Though just barely.
Thanks to Elsbeth and Cinna MMon for the BR.
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).