Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Released: March 1st 2016
My Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Find it on Goodreads
Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.
Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. But that doesn’t stop him from defending his people—at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He is given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.
When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide. (from Goodreads)
First of all, I loved the main characters. And I actually liked both POVs equally, which is so rare for me. Kora was the Queen (Alvira) of Safara and while she wasn’t pompous or arrogant or overly demanding, you could see the queenliness in her. I loved her confidence, her boldness, and the way she wanted to the best for her people - even though they hated her. I loved that despite the fact she didn’t really want to rule, she wouldn’t let her brother Dima take the throne because she knew his violence and his arrogance would lead to disaster. It was so easy to feel for her, and even though she tried to portray this fearless persona, when it came to her brother, she found it really difficult to stand up to him, despite the fact she was queen - which I could understand, because after all, he was her brother (though really hoping we see Kora learn to get past this in the next book, because ugh, Dima. Or hopefully he’ll magically have a change of heart and realise his sister is not actually his enemy). And the way her feelings were expressed throughout was great, props to the author for that. You could understand her pain, her guilt, her attraction to Eros, her sadness at the lost relationship with her brother, her sense of humour - honestly, she was just a great character, and I really enjoyed reading about her.
Eros was equally as interesting. He was half human, half Sepharon, and as a result, didn’t fit into either society. Half-bloods were completely rejected and usually killed at birth, and no-one knew why Eros was allowed to live so long. After his family was killed (his poor brother, Day. I got attached to that guy after only a few pages and then bam, he was dead) he was taken prisoner by Sepharons and made a slave. He would have been killed if not for Kora, who ended up making him his bodyguard. At the start, Eros had no idea what was going on. He didn’t really get why Kora was keeping him alive, he blamed her for the death of his family and all he wanted to do was leave and return to the few people he had left. I really enjoyed how his perceptions changed over time, and how he became closer to Kora. Sometimes his inner thoughts were hilarious as well (though he definitely said “some kinduv” too much), and I just really loved watching these two characters start to understand one another. I liked the romance as well. It was so obvious Kora and Eros were attracted to each other, but it wasn’t too insta-lovey (well a little, but I liked it, so what can I say!) or sappy or anything like that. It felt realistic and the kind of romance where you could really root for each character.
Plot-wise, things weren’t overly complicated, which I appreciated, because often sci-fi storylines can get a bit all over the place. The world-building was solid and there was a lot I didn’t see coming. There were a few sad parts mixed in there which made me remember just how serious the situations were for these characters. And the writing was fab in my opinion. I felt everything the author wanted me to feel, I hated some characters (ugh Dima and those soldiers) and I loved some (Eros and Kora obviously, but I really liked Serek too, [minor spoiler, highlight to read]the poor guy[end of spoiler]) and I was curious about things and generally the whole book was addictive and I finished it at 5am, so there. Honestly, I wish I had read it slower, because I’m really sad it’s over now. I’m so glad we’re getting a sequel, because originally this book was going to be standalone (imagine the horror! I would have died from all the unanswered questions…).
Overall, this book was very enjoyable, and if you like sci-fi, I recommend it. Even if you don’t like sci-fi, still give it a go because it just might change your mind.