"A futuristic romance that evoked mixed emotions"
Xera-Harris-d had hoped to find adventure when she signed up
as a translator for a Galactic Explorers team. The
experience sours quickly as she discovers the G.E. is far
less than ethical. When the captain orders the team to
explore a planet in Scorpio space in direct violations of
I.C. treaty, a battle ensues which results on both their
vessel and one of the Scorpio's crash landing on the planet
which as it turns out is extremely hostile to both life
forms. As the only woman on either team, she is in a
uniquely dangerous position. Who to trust?
The decision is not an easy one as the first crew member to
approach the Scorpio is shot down in cold blood by their
ship's flame eyed commander. This is later explained away as
a cultural insult. Still our hero has not made a very
sympathetic beginning. However the Scorpio are familiar with
the planet, its hazards and know where to take refuge. It
quickly becomes obvious that in order to survive the G.E.
crew will have to trust the Scorpio at least temporarily.
After braving the dangerous terrain the combined group finds
shelter. Xera is quickly pushed into service by her insecure
and irrational captain. She soon realizes that she has been
set up as scapegoat for any disagreements or
misunderstandings. She also realizes that friendly help may
not be quick in arriving and that as the only female in
either crew she would have to sleep with one eye open. But
while the Scorpio are a patriarchal society, they revere
woman. Her own crew is not so noble. When Xera's captain
abuses her, the Scorpio Commander, Ryven Atarus, takes her
as a war prize and installs her as the Scorpio Ambassador to
her home world.
As expected the Scorpio rescue ship arrives first,
leaving the enemy G.E. crew as bargaining chips. But
Commander Atarus has special plans for Xera. On the Scorpio
world it quickly becomes apparent that Xera's new appointment
is to be a mere formality. Ryven is Scorpio nobility and
heir to one of the ruling powers of his world. He plans to
wed her and protocol insists that she be of equal rank in
order for the ceremony to take place. With her home world
far away on the other side of a wormhole, Xera accepts her
fate knowing that she will never see her family again and
expects to be branded a traitor among her own people.
Ryven is not without compassion and promises to delay the
wedding night until Xera can contact her sister with the
news. Suffice it to say that this is not a case of dubious
consent, but Ryven also has enemies and Xera could easily
become a pawn once more.
I love futuristic romance and am always looking for new
authors to read, and have heard great things about Ms. Dawns
previous e-published novels. I've also known Dorchester
publishing to put out some spectacular futuristic romances
in the past, so it pains me to have to say that I found
myself somewhat disappointed with this one. The premise had
great promise and the last paragraph which tied in to the
title was great, but the tale that went before it robbed it
of it's "awwwwwwww" factor.
First the characters failed to stir my emotions. Xera was
ambivalent at best. She thought constantly about how she
missed her family but never made any attempt to escape. She
had every excuse in the book, the distance, the danger, etc.
One might accept that she was lukewarm about escape because
she was so in love with her new husband but the romance
didn't gel for me either.
Xera comes to believe that Ryven is schooling her in how not
to show affection in public but not once does she try to
break down that wall and force him to tell her how he feels.
In fact the only time Xera showed strong emotions (outside
of a few love scenes) was in her relationships with the two
other downtrodden women in the story, Ryven's divorced
sister and the Leo slave.
The reader is supposed to understand that the Scorpio
culture is different, that public and verbal displays of
affection are unseemly and the females know that their men's
actions speak of their love for them. But the two are apart
for significant time periods of time and if Xera doesn't
get it, why should the reader? Even when Xera discovers that
the two races are genetically compatible, she is horrified
rather than pleased. I just didn't get it. I will definitely
give the author another try, but if you are thinking about
exploring futuristic romance for the first time, you might
want to start out with one of her other works.
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted February 2, 2009