Khoram is an enforcer, a bodyguard, but his boss has just betrayed him. Now he’s stranded on a desert planet he’s never heard of, chained to the only other human around.
Atash grew up in the cracks of Dulia’s complex social structure, where dominance and submission are a man’s worth. He’s struggled for years on a lower caste but Khoram could be his ticket to a better life if they can find common ground.
Atash wants to teach Khoram the art of submitting by choice and maybe make a name for himself along the way. Khoram, however, isn’t here to play Atash’s political games. He’s going to escape, if his former employer doesn’t see him killed first.
Khoram is the top enforcer for Madam Zoya’s group of ruthless and outlaw mercenaries. He is betrayed by someone he considered a friend and sold into slavery. Atash delGuarda is a single bodied, half-human of low standing in Frea society. If not for his expertise at training the Ohiri, he wouldn’t be worth speaking to. If he can please the leaders of the Frea then he can get an audience and perhaps he completes the task his mother gave him. Then he would be free of her control. Following the advice of Serket, he is ready to purchase a non-Ohiri when he comes upon defiant and willful Khoram. Purchasing Khoram opens doors for Atash, starting a chain of events that will change both him and Khoram.
I love a good sci-fi and this ranks right up there for me. I will admit that at first I had a hard time figuring out what the Frea were. They’re serpentlike but I couldn’t figure out if they were multi-headed with a consciousness for each head or what. It didn’t click with me until a little further in when a better description came with regards to them being multi-bodied but bonded and considered one “person”. Once I got that picture it was easier for me to imagine them and not get lost in what was going on. That also played a part in why Atash was considered barely worth talking to among the Frea and opened up my understanding of the world. Loved it.
Poor Khoram. I have something else to admit. When Khoram was betrayed and sold into slavery I had this eye rolling moment. I don’t like reading slave tropes. A slave can’t choose, isn’t allowed to say no, and therefore cannot have a romance with their master. So I wasn’t looking forward to Atash buying Khoram because then it stops being a romance in my head. But! I’m glad I continued because what both Khoram and I thought would happened didn’t. I’m not going to say more on the subject only that I caught on before Khoram did. Considering the knowledge he came in with, his arguments were understandable.
I expected certain aspects of the confrontation and was surprised at one of the reveals. I do wish there was more at the end. It does feel as if it ended rather abruptly. I needed more of a wrap up. Now, if the author plans a sequel, oh hell yes please. Forget what I said about the wrap up and just give me more. If you enjoy sci-fi romance with aliens that aren’t only alien in appearance but culture you’ll love this.