A desire for status has brought Ondry and Liam to a human world to trade, but dealing with humans has brought up all the old pain in Liam’s heart. Even though Ondry would do anything to protect his beloved palteia, he doesn’t know how to protect Liam from himself. Worse, Ondry isn’t sure how to shield Liam from the shifting politics on the Rownt ship where the Calti Grandmothers are nothing like the ones they left behind on the planet.
With everything in their lives changing, Ondry and Liam have only each other. If Ondry can’t find a way to defend Liam from the ghosts of the past and overcome the impossibly short life span of a human, their small family might be over long before either of them is ready to let go. Ondry has always been a dominant and possessive Rownt, and with Liam in danger, those traits are necessary as he challenges the world to protect his lover.
I cannot begin to explain just how much I adore this series. When the boss lady messaged me and asked if I wanted to review it for the blog, I was giddy with excitement to learn that a new installment in the Claimings series had been released. I love Ondry and Liam. I cannot get enough of Ondry and Liam. Gala could write a new book every month about the couple and I would still want more. And there’s not a tangible aspect to the books and their relationship that I can easily point to that makes me feel this way. Rather, it’s how I feel as I read their story.
In Affiliations, Aliens & Other Profitable Pursuits we see that the relationship between Ondry and Liam continues to grow as they are in a new environment and face new challenges. The book opens with them aboard a ship that is on its way to Earth to establish trade agreements between Earth and Rownt – although we learn much later in the book that there was more to the trip than Ondry, Liam, or the reader was aware of. What made this installment interesting to me was the WHY behind the strengthening of Ondry and Liam’s relationship. Because he “belongs” to Ondry, because he is palteia, and because he understands the Rownt culture better than any of the other humans they’ve encountered, the Rownt Grandmothers look to Liam to assist with the negotiations between them and the humans, more so than the human’s chosen liaison, Colonel Diallo. While this puts added stress on Liam, he sees this as an opportunity to demonstrate why Ondry is deserving of his status. Although Ondry understands that Liam wants to succeed in his tasks so that he can reflect well on his chilta, Ondry also knows that Liam is uncomfortable around other humans because of his past mistreatment and is worried that the human military will try to force him to remain on Earth. Due to this, Ondry is reluctant to leave Liam in the Grandmothers’ care – not because he doesn’t trust them to take care of Liam, but rather because they do not know Liam as well and won’t be able to pick up on his subtle cues of distress and address the issue quicker. Initially, Ondry is mildly shamed by a Grandmother and agrees that Liam can go without him because he worries that he has not found the right balance between letting Liam flourish and protecting him. When a person from Liam’s past approaches him, Ondry’s concerns prove to be founded because Liam suffers mentally from the interaction. This is what leads to the strengthening of the bond between Liam and Ondry – concern for Liam’s well-being clearly outweighs Ondry’s concern about his status. Liam already knew that Ondry cared for him, but for each man to see this change in priorities served to make their bond stronger.
Ondry’s willingness to eschew the opinions of the Grandmothers in favor of making Liam feel safe is what made the book for me. The Rownt are not human and do not act as such – no verbal declarations of love. We’ve seen signs of Ondry’s affections for Liam and Liam’s feelings for Ondry have been quite obvious as Liam is human. But Ondry putting Liam’s well-being before that of his status was a clear indication as to how deeply he feels for Liam. The Claimings series builds upon itself, so it’s probably hard for a newbie to understand the significance of Ondry’s actions without having read books one and two. But if you have read the previous books in the series, then you will understand just how much Ondry’s actions mean to Liam. There is a lot that occurs in the novel, but because it is a series that builds, I won’t elaborate on the specifics and ruin it for you. However, I will say that if you’re a fan of the Claimings series, you won’t want to miss this installment. If you’re new to the series, go back and start with book one so you don’t miss out on any of the action and romance because at the end of the day, even if it isn’t as straightforward of a romance as many in the genre, Affiliations, Aliens & Other Profitable Pursuits is a romance and I cannot wait for the next book to find out what Gala has in store for the couple next.