Author: MA Church
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 3 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: 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.
Review: First of all I love the cover and for me it totally captures Adlar’s mystique. This is a new to me author and the blurb sounded like just my kind of read. It’s a sci fi but I think it’s probably approachable to anyone really as the emphasis seemed to be the enemies to lovers angle. It’s got the added bonus of one Helkan prince, Adlar, taking the other Yesri prince, Varo, captive after he crash-lands on his planet. Adlar’s planet holds a precious commodity that everyone wants. Varo had been sent by his less than scrupulous father to broker a deal to mine their land. The Helkans don’t let anyone on their land much less mine it. Varo’s father is a cruel and desperate man however and won’t take no for an answer. Basically Varo was screwed from the get go. Once under Adlar’s control thanks to a collar that bends Varo to his will, Varo has no choice but to obey his captor. There are many rumors about the Helkans. One is they drink blood. Another is they’re a cruel and vicious species. Adlar doesn’t force Varo into sexual situations but he certainly is aggressive in his advances. Varo can’t seem to resist those advances either. Some weird wooing goes on as the guys get to know each other and fall in love.
The main problem I had with this book is I just couldn’t get into the couple. They’re seemingly opposites in every way. Their appearances. Their philosophies on how they should live their lives. Adlar is a captain of assassins. Varo is a star ship captain. Adlar is loved by his family. Varo is considered dispensable. I did enjoy some of this but ultimately for me it all kind of fell flat. Adlar is at times condescending to Varo while Varo is overly excited about having Adlar’s ways forced upon him. I think it could have been endearing but it felt like Varo’s character was all over the place. Like he gave in too easily to his role as slave. There was really no tension. A little danger and concern over feeding Varo was about all there was. It has a very insta love/lust thing going on which really isn’t for me. His previous life was a cold one in regards to how he was treated so I guess it’s not too far fetched to think Adlar’s kindness was irresistible to Varo. I was into the book until Adlar gets Varo home. I expected some tension about the collared captive thing but there really wasn’t any since the guys kiss and start getting it on really quickly. There is a ton of sex in this book. The pace slows quite a bit with the cooking lessons and shared moments about how different their perspectives are. Strangely enough my favorite parts of the book were when the MCs shared page time with the secondary characters. Basically there were positive things of this book but I didn’t love it. The world created was interesting. I liked all the political aspects and the possibility of a more friendly future between Varo’s planet and Adlar’s. It was just okay for me though which was disappointing because this sounded like such a “ME” book.