The Ruins of Karzelek (The Mandrake Company #4)

She's holding my hand, Tick.

The Ruins of Karzelek
Ruby Lionsdrake
The Mandrake Company, book four
Kindle Edition, 260 pages
Published December 22nd 2014

Kalish has been a successful treasure hunter for years, relying on only herself to deal with deadly predators, impenetrable jungles, and diabolical booby traps. But with her father kidnapped, and a notorious pirate demanding an ancient alien artifact that may or may not exist, Kalish needs help.

She hires a mercenary company because she needs their combat experience and their piloting skills—the intelligence officer with the background in translating alien hieroglyphics could come in useful too. Sedgwick Thomlin is charming and handsome, when he isn’t busy sneezing at something from his long list of allergies. But she’s not sure if she can trust him or the mercenaries, not when the most valuable and coveted relic in the galaxy might turn out to be real.

The Ruins of Karzelek is a 95,000-word novel of space-based adventure and romance that can be read as a stand-alone. It is also part of the Mandrake Company series and brings back characters from the other books, such as Val, Gregor, Tick, and Striker.

I've read books one and two-and loved them!-but when it came to continuing the series, I decided to skip book three-for now-for a number of reasons. In doing so, I realized something about myself that I hadn't before. When faced with the choice between an assassin and a geek, I'd choose the geek. And I so didn't expect that.

Sedgwick Thomlin has allergies. A long list of allergies, including: Dust, moss, mold, pollen, dogs, bees, perfume, gold, chromium, shellfish, sulfides, peanuts, mangos, strawberries, and, of course, cats.

But Thomlin is also a man with one hell of a mind, utterly addicted to (and dependent upon) technology, and can work a keyboard faster than a machine. Seriously, what the hell was with that password?

Unfortunately, for him, he's no Gregor Thatcher. Gregor still takes the crown as my lord god of SciFiRomance geeks and there was nothing Thomlin did nearly as well or enough to take that role away.

When reading this series there are a number of things one can expect. Highly intelligent, educated characters for one. And, until now, a completely believable love affair with a natural and logical progression. This one had that, up until Val bought out Thomlin's contract and the two practically ran off together. Yes, it's romantic. But just not a tidbit I've come to expect from this author in regards to this particular series.

3 out of 5 stars.

Two questions to end this post.. 1) We now know Willow and Ankari get a sequel, do Gregor and Val get one, too? And 2) What's number seven?!

Previously in the series:


The Darkest Night (Lords of the Underworld #1)

Your Maddox?

The Darkest Night
Gena Showalter
Lords of the Underworld, book one
ebook, 281 pages
Published January 1st 2010 by Harlequin Books
First published 2008
ISBN 9781426850813

Long ago, twelve immortals warriors – each more dangerously seductive than the last -- stole and opened Pandora’s box, unleashing the evil from within. Now they carry that evil within themselves. Violence, Pain, Death, Disease, Disaster, Misery, Doubt, Promiscuity, Defeat, Lies, Secrets, and Wrath. When a powerful enemy returns, they will travel the world in search of a sacred relic of the gods – one that threatens to destroy them all.

His powers - Inhuman...

His passion - Beyond immortal...

All her life, Ashlyn Darrow has been tormented by voices from the past. To end the nightmare, she has come to Budapest seeking help from men rumored to have supernatural abilities, not knowing she'll be swept into the arms of Maddox, their most dangerous member--a man trapped in a hell of his own.

Neither can resist the instant hunger that calms their torments...and ignites an irresistible passion. But every heated touch and burning kiss will edge them closer to destruction--and a soul-shattering test of love.

Because, when she looked at him, she didn't see Violence. He suspected she saw man. Her man. A heady thought. Drugging. Shocking. Enough to earn his eternal devotion.

Centuries ago, the gods entrusted Pandora with guarding dimOuinak, a sacred box that contained the worst of Hell's demons. This act, this choice, was a slap to the face of the twelve warriors that had served the Greek gods so faithfully. In retaliation for the slight, Maddox, along with Torin, Lucien, Reyes, Aeron, Paris, and six of their sword-brethren stole the box and foolishly released the spirits. Having lost the box amidst the chaos, the warriors were left with no way of recapturing the demons. And thus, the king of the gods cursed the warriors for their actions, dooming them to house, and eventually bond with, one of those very demons.

Maddox was bestowed with Violence. One of his first actions, compelled by it, was the killing of Pandora in which he stabbed the woman six times with his blade to her belly. It is a death he is further cursed to endure himself every night at midnight by the hands of Reyes and Lucien.

Torin was given Disease. He can touch no living thing, skin to skin, without spreading a plague among the people. A plague that ultimately ends in death. It's been four hundred years since he last touched a woman. Needless to say, it did not end well.

Reyes endures Pain. He is driven to constantly inflict pain upon himself. Mostly by cutting.

Lucien is Death. He smells, ironically, of roses.

Aeron is Wrath. He is drawn by the guilty and carries out justice by taking their lives. It thrills him, to say the least.

Paris is both blessed and cursed with Promiscuity. He has a hyperactive sex drive and yet, can never be with the same woman more than once.

Ashlyn is a human with her own curse to deal with. She hears voices left from conversations of the past. Residual whispers that still hover on the wind. And some of those whispers have given her the knowledge that there are men living in a Budapest tower that never age and possess great powers. Following the whim, Ashlyn seeks them out, hoping such power could free her of her torment.

Lost and freezing, Ashlyn approaches the warrior's sanctuary where Maddox suspects her presence to be a harbinger of a threat. She finds, astonishingly, that close proximity quiets the voices to the point of nonexistence. And so, finding silence for the first time in twenty-four years, she clings to him and defies him to leave her.

Unbeknownst to herself, Ashlyn is the bait that the Lords suspect her to be, as she leads the Hunters directly to them. And with the Titans taking over, it isn't the Greek gods the Lords are left to fear anymore.

At about sixty percent of the book, the remaining Lords finally make their appearance: Sabin, Cameo, Amun, Gideon, Strider, and Kane. This half of the group split from the pack after Baden's trickery and subsequent death. While Maddox and the others just wanted peace, calling it even between the destruction suffered on both sides between the Lords and the Hunters, Sabin and his men sought vengeance on all Hunters as a whole and proceeded into a quest to eradicate the world of their existence. As the Hunters seek out Pandora's box with the goal of capturing the demons, thus killing the Lords, the two groups reunite with the sole aim to survive their common enemy.

Sabin is Doubt. He can speak no lie and has telepathic powers to inflict doubt upon a person's mind.

Cameo, the sole female of the clan, is Misery. Constantly depressed, the others balance waiting for her to kill herself with saving her the trouble and doing the deed on their own.

Amun is keeper, and seeker, of Secrets. Being in close contact with someone enables him to divine their deepest held secrets.

Gideon holds Lies. Opposite of Sabin, Gideon cannot speak the truth without suffering severe agony. Conversations with him are nothing less than interesting.

Strider suffers Defeat. He must win, at all costs, and is compelled to keep going until successful.

And Kane is Disaster. The most entertaining of the men, anything bad that can happen will happen to Kane. Mostly this involves things falling apart and landing on him.

My favorites of the men would be: Reyes and Torin... Gideon... and Kane. And meeting Anya near the end, as she helped put everything to rights with Ashlyn, Maddox, Reyes, and Lucien, left me oh so tempted to dive into book two. I had to fight it, but I was so close to giving in.

Lords of the Underworld
2: Lucien & Anya (goddess of Anarchy)
3: Reyes & Danika (human with questionable bloodline)
4: Sabin & Gwen (immortal)
5: Aeron & Olivia (angel turned demon)
6: Gideon & Scarlet (demon possessed immortal)
7: Amun & Haidee (demon assassin)
8: Strider & Kaia (harpy)
9: Paris & Sienna (possessed by Wrath)
10: Kane & Josephina (half-Fae)
11: Torin & Keeley (the Red Queen)
12: Cameo & ?

4 out of 5 stars.


Willing Sacrifice (Sentinel Wars #8)

It was a cruel fucking joke that a woman who touched him so deeply 
could never be the one he needed to survive.

Willing Sacrifice
Shannon K Butcher
The Sentinel Wars, book eight
ebook, 384 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Penguin Group (USA)
ISBN 9781101627839

They are the Sentinels. Three races descended from ancient guardians of mankind, each possessing unique abilities in their battle to protect humanity against their eternal foes: the Synestryn. Now a warrior weighs the price he will pay for love....

Theronai warrior Torr has never forgotten Grace, the human who stole his heart and nearly gave her life to save his. So when he is summoned to the aid of Brenya, the powerful woman who healed Grace, he is devastated to find that Grace’s cure has left her mind devoid of any memory of Torr or their love.

However, despite not knowing who he is, Grace is inexplicably drawn to the dark warrior. As they team up to stop the invasion that threatens the people Grace now considers family, her memories slowly start resurfacing. But sometimes the past is best forgotten—a lesson that Torr may learn too late.

Some things are best left forgotten - like this book.

I love the Sentinel Wars series and had crazy curiosity for how Torr's story would play out with Grace, the human woman who gave her health and very life to save his.

She's a woman too stupid selfless to live.

Grace holds absolutely no value for her own life. She's no fighter. She's a survivor simply because people just won't stop saving her. Her selflessness is both beautiful and admirable... and equally exhausting. The level of annoyance this woman achieved with me is chart worthy. I just wanted it to end. Whether she died or Torr became human and they disappeared together made little difference. I just needed the whole ordeal to get out of my head.

The last twenty percent is the best part of this book. Sadly, you'll have to survive the first eighty percent of Grace's pathetic existence to get to it.

Previously in the series:


The Blarmling Dilemma (Hearts in Orbit, #1)

Don't you ever pars-scan your comnet?

The Blarmling Dilemma
S.C. Mitchell
Hearts in Orbit, book one
ebook, 242 pages
Published December 2nd 2014 by Soul Mate Publishing
Read for Free with Kindle's Lending Library
Read for Free with Kindle Unlimited
- or just buy it because it's awesome!

“They’re not animals. They’re people!”

Phoebe Callista’s pleas fall on deaf ears and she’s forced to rescue two helpless Blarmlings from certain death. Fleeing across a backwater sector of the galaxy, with Galactic Marshals in hot pursuit, Phoebe falls into the hands of a handsome but determined bounty hunter.

Rigel Antares has captured wanted criminals throughout the galaxy rim, but he’s never come across anything like Phoebe Callista. The gorgeous blonde is playing the innocent, and something deep inside wants to believe her, but Rigel has problems of his own—a ship that’s falling apart and an unscrupulous Galactic Marshal looking for any excuse to send him back to the prison planets of the Theiler System.

An intergalactic circus, vicious space pirates, and a planet full of backtechers cross their paths as two hearts go into orbit to save a pair of adorable Blarmlings.

Hearts in Orbit — Volume 1: THE BLARMLING DILEMMA is a science fiction romance set in the far-flung space traveling future, and sets a new course across the galaxy that leads to love and adventure.

Yes, yes, and oh yes! This is a book with such sweetness and so many unexpected turns that I could not put it down after picking it up when it became obvious that my then current read wasn't giving me what I needed. This sure as hell did!

Recently employed by United Research & Technologies, Phoebe is a biomechanic at the research facility where plans are in motion to breed two Blarmlings in hopes of giving the population a new pet source now that cats and dogs have nearly become extinct. When the pair fail to produce satisfying results, they are slated for execution and dissection. In response of which, soft hearted Phoebe has no choice but to free the two-Lart and Oolo-and see them safely home to the planet of Blarm.

It's a plan that lands her a bounty that Rigel desperately needs in order to keep his ancient ship from falling apart.

Born of a thief who was tried and sentenced to the prison planets, Rigel may be called a spacer but he's lived by the law all of his life despite the stigma of his upbringing. When he was released at the age of fifteen, he joined the circus and earned enough credits to buy himself a ship, soon finding his way into a bounty hunting career.

And that brings us to the beginning of BD as it kicks off in the heat of a starship battle between the two. When Rigel first meets Phoebe, he's in awe of her. Leaving me to be in awe of him.

I loved Rigel's personality. Here's a guy with images of a blonde hair, green eyed beauty in his mind, with memories of her panty drawer riding the edges, and his first fantasy is simply of her holding him while he sleeps. Romantics out there, prepare to swoon. This guy's a keeper.


Locked up on Rigel's ship, Phoebe takes the opportunity to debug his mainframe while he searches her ship for the specimens she's been charged with stealing. Never does he find them, until they reveal themselves while trying to get Phoebe free. And surprise, surprise- turns out, Rigel spent a year on Blarm when his ship crashed there and left him stranded. In that time he learned their language and grew to love and respect their species. Had he known the truth of Phoebe's crime, he would have let her go.

Rigel and Phoebe find love rather quickly, and then the true adventure begins.

A corrupt marshal puts most of the heat on the duo, having had Rigel in his sights for years and guilty of stealing many a bounties from our hero. Then they fall into the clutches of space pirates only to emerge as saviors to a community of backtechers. It's here where the author had a good time twisting into the story characters inspired by the notorious Robin Hood with names like Ryan Loxley, Mirin, and Tucker Frye.

With time running out as Lart (yes, Lart) is due to give birth to five babies very soon, Phoebe is reluctantly forced to turn herself in. The sacrifice gets Rigel the necessary credits to fix his ship and see the Blarmlings safely home.

From there, Rigel and Phoebe spend six months apart. She, on Theiler 5, serving her sentence and bonding with Rigel's mother. Meanwhile, Rigel aids the Blarmlings in having them declared a people, therefore ending the threat of a future pet status and ensuring their quality in the eyes of the rest of the galaxy. This, in turn, earns Rigel the status as Blarmling Ambassador and with it, diplomatic immunity from all crimes. For him, and his immediate family. A happy ending for his mother and, by Blarmling law, for his wife.

It's a light-hearted read carried by an easy romance, the perfect mix of humor and action, and cuddly bear-like Blarmlings. Upon finishing it, I immediately returned it to the Lending Library and purchased my very own copy for the collection. It's truly a must have.

5 out of 5 stars. And kudos to the cover artist for the beautiful, complimenting image.

Book two, Pirates of the Dark Nebula, has a possible release in June and will feature Phoebe’s sister, Luna, and an under cover galactic marshal named Rik Mazer.


Off Topic: Fifty Shades of Grey

As an erotic romance reader, I've delved only slightly into the world of BDSM. I'm merely a visitor, a voyeur into a lifestyle I will never fully grasp. But from the little I've experienced, I find it to be an art form. A science, if you will. It takes talent to take the pain sensors of the body and manipulate them into feeling pleasure. It takes a gift to control one's mind to the point of complete and utter submission. To own their trust. To deliver the otherwise impossible.

Before its theatrical revamp, I had never heard of Mr. Grey and his fifty shades. As the hype increased around me, I admit to the stimulation of my curiosity. From the mouths of its readers, those few around me, I've received a mix of reactions. One tossed it before ever making it midway. One hailed it as amazing. Others, I hear, damn it for glorifying rape and domestic abuse. BDSM does nothing of the sort, and should this book-this movie-do so then it does nothing more but bastardize an art.

As I read, I came upon this review of the movie from Village Voice:

...The thrust of the series isn't Christian Grey awakening Anastasia to the pleasures of submission — instead, it's her convincing him that his sexual wants are wrong. She may temporarily thrill as he spanks her over his knee, but the book-three climax is a wedding and a baby. The series savors kink and stigmatizes it, implying Grey's only into BDSM because an older woman stole his virginity at fifteen and his mother was a crack whore. Confesses Grey, "I'm fifty shades of fucked up."

It's too bad that Taylor-Johnson can't give these insults a suspicious side-eye. She must mouth them as gospel, since his Mrs. Robinson–like backstory villain factors in to the sequels. As a result, the book and the film punish their fans. Yes, this naughty stuff is hot — but if you like it too much, you're sick.

- Amy Nicholson (Village Voice)

I haven't read it. And I won't.

I'm curious enough to want to watch it. But would doing so serve any other purpose than to arouse my anger and sense of wrong?

Her chin came up. “There’s nothing fun about someone restraining me.”
“What if the restraints are all in your mind?” He pressed into her skin, knowing he would leave an indent. Wanting to. “And what if that someone was me?”

-No Romance Required by Cari Quinn

BDSM books that I have read/enjoyed can be found here. Granted, I lean more towards the bondage and domination/discipline rather than the sadism and masochism aspect of it all.


Falling Blind (Sentinel Wars #7)

Falling Blind
Shannon K Butcher
Sentinel Wars, book seven
ebook, 400 pages
Published April 2nd 2013 by Signet Book
ISBN 9781101605738

They are the Sentinels. Three races descended from ancient guardians of mankind, each possessing unique abilities in their battle to protect humanity against their eternal foes: the Synestryn. Now a warrior must protect a strong-minded woman from an incredible evil...

A beautiful, independent Theronai, Rory Rainey knows that her attempts to be a warrior are futile--unless she can stop the demonic visions that torment her. Determined to be free, Rory sets out to find the mysterious guardian who can cure her, before she loses her sight--or her life. But Rory's journey brings its own dangers when she is attacked by a pack of Synestryn sent by the demon lord Raygh.

Cornered and desperate, Rory narrowly escapes with the help of a sword-wielding stranger. Cain knows that Rory needs his protection to survive, just as he knows that her power is compatible with his own. And when Rory binds herself to Cain, the warrior knows he will do anything to keep her safe from the threat of the demon lord that pursues her...

Cain's had it rough these last couple of months. Sybil, the girl he's protected for centuries, finally grew up over night after being released from her promise to her mother to never age and ran off to live her own life. Then, he nearly had a mate in Jackie but despite Iain's help and Jackie's agreement, those two couldn't be with anyone but eachother. Now, alone again, Cain faces a doomed future as the last of his lifemark's leaves hang precariously from their branches.

Rory arrived on the scene in book five as a young woman with pink hair (and ultimately given pink sneakers to match) that came by the homeless shelter where Hope worked every once in a while. But despite appearances, Rory isn't homeless. She's a Theronai suffering uncontrollable visions that leave her blinded during these episodes where she sees through the eyes of anyone who is near.

But someone, or something, near the old shelter has been easing the chaotic visions and Rory is determined to find whoever, or whatever, is responsible. The only other reprieve she finds is in Cain's touch after he arrives in the midst of yet another stalking attack by demons. As he blocks her madness, she, too, dulls his suffering and gives Cain a renewed sense of purpose.

Cain is slow to feed the hope he finds as Rory's presence calls to his luceria and the agonizing pain he's suffered for centuries finally quiets. But he can't deny the compatibility between them. She could be the one to wield his power and save his dying soul. And when she takes his luceria while he lay unconscious, he wakes with a pledge to protect her with his life... until she finds the man she's meant to be with.

I loved Rory's wit. That girl's got a fire in her that we haven't seen since Paul found his Andra and a smart ass, quick mind that's all her own. She's not defenseless. More important, she doesn't want anyone to think she's anything less than a confident, put together, young woman who doesn't need anyone to help her do anything. In truth, she's lost. She's alone. And she's spiraling.

Rory needs Cain. Cain needs Rory. Cain also needs Rory to need him, which she won't easily allow herself to do. And that's the short and thick of it.

Speaking of Andra... she's finally pregnant with Paul's son!


Meanwhile, Beth, who survived being a demon meal for who knows how long, made it through the last book only to die in this one. At Connal's hand. Or mouth, if you want specifics. Her sister, Ella, who fell in love with the Synestryn, Canaranth (and he with her) survived her labor with their son, Ethan, and has managed to hide his paternity from the Theronai as she remains protected within Dabyr's walls. Until a desperate Connal takes her and her son hostage with intent to trade them to the Synstryn lord, Raygh, that is.

Rory and Cain's story ends, what I feel is, the worst so far. Rory ends up blind, her curse now a blessing, as the only way she can see is through the eyes of others. Connal dies. Canaranth dies. Even Ella dies.

There is a bright spot though. It appears Ronan has found his match in a woman named Justice. Like Hope, she appeared out of nowhere without any memories. In one single scene, she came into Ronan's life only to disappear out of it.

4 out of 5 stars.

Previously in the series:


Torkel's Chosen (A World Beyond #1)

This was what he'd waited seven years for.
This feeling of belonging to another.

Torkel's Chosen
Michelle Howard
A World Beyond, book one
ebook, 190 pages
Published February 1st 2015 by Smashwords Edition
ISBN 9781310331305

What would you do if Earth didn’t have enough men?
Would you take a chance and leave the only world you knew behind?

This is the decision Faith Reid faces. Placing all her hope in a new government program, she seizes the opportunity that offers a chance for the women of Earth to find love among the stars, on a world beyond the one they know.

How many times can one man risk rejection?
Would you give up on your dreams?

Torkel Alonson has had enough of being ignored and looked over by females on his adopted home world of Enotia. His pride has suffered and he must accept the painful truth. Females will never choose a male with his evil lineage despite his honorable service to his government’s military.

Can two people looking for the same thing find not just what they want but what they need in one another?

After Earth suffered an unknown epidemic, the population now finds itself down to one man for every ten women. In this futuristic setting, wherein life on other planets has not only been discovered but interacted with as if they were only on the next continent, the government has instituted the mother of all dating pools. Women desperate enough to spend $20,000 on a ticket may venture to compatible planets in search of a mate to create a family and new life with.

After three years of applying and receiving rejections for various reasons, Faith Reid finally has a ticket in hand. Her next challenge: Pick a destination. She could choose Ontar Z and get herself a hairy beast of a man. Or Langhorn, where the average couple has about seven kids. Garulax would land her two husbands to fulfill her every fantasy. Or Enotia, where the woman chooses her mate out of a line up of eligible suitors.

Year after year, for seven cycles, Torkel has stood upon the traditional sands of Enotia in hopes of securing a mate for himself. Always rejected. Ever shamed. His damning trait is being born of Marenian blood, legendary slavers, despite being abandoned and eventually adopted and raised by loving Enotian parents. A Jutak warrior, much like our own Navy Seals or Marines, he can no longer bare the humiliation of rejection and decides this will be his final year. Should he fail yet again to attract a female, Torkel will remain alone and unbound.

So... at this point you've got the fantasy in mind of two people taking this grand attempt at a final chance at love... possibly sharing a moment, catching one another's eye across the arena's sands and feeling those little butterflies come to life in your belly... and if you do, like me, you'd be wrong.

As Faith arrives on Enotia, she is approached by a male offering her twenty grand to pick Torkel. Torkel, whom she'd already dismissed as an option. And just like that, the whole image is tainted. Right there, my heart began to hurt.

In the next moment, I was laughing out loud.

And in the next, I was swooning and everything was right in the world.

And then, aargh... I swear, in the span of what had to be ten pages, my nerves were a freaking wreck.


As everything settles and Torkel and Faith begin to fall for one another, the threats start to come. Turns out, the stranger who offered Faith money to choose Torkel wants her as his spy, fitting her with a communicator which he uses to contact her in order to find out when and with whom Torkel's missions are taking place. Information which Faith reluctantly provides in order to spare Torkel's pride being hurt.

And that's where my support of Faith fell away. While the idea of breaking Torkel was something I was not looking forward to, here she is providing details, however insignificant, that aided directly in making Torkel a failure. She was putting his very life in danger, and that of his men, while also forcing innocent people into prolonged sexual slavery. It only served right to have her taken into that same nightmare.

For six weeks Faith is held captive and subsequently tortured for further information on the Jutak warriors. Six weeks that Torkel, having learned of her accepted payment to choose him and further betrayal of he and his men, abandons her to her tormented fate.

When rescue does eventually come, Faith isn't the objective. Torkel and his men arrive to free Lindsey, a fellow captive and one whom Faith had met on her journey to Enotia. Reunited with his Chosen, Torkel's sympathy is slow to come for his betrayer. His first reaction is even to let her die withput providing even the smallest amount of comfort.

A response I applauded him for.

Each of Torkel's men have their chance to curse Faith for her deception. Jaron, the closest of them, tells her outright that she didn't suffer enough. Kyele, my favorite, who had always kept her at arm's length, is simply mystified by her actions. Arak and the others land somewhere in the middle.

Eventually, things settle again. Torkel forgives her and the two start to build things anew. What doesn't settle, however, is the freaking cliffhanger we're left with. Where the hell is Lindsay? And who was the man that bought Faith's choice?

OMG, haven't my nerves suffered enough?!

4 out of 5 stars.


Enslaved (Brides of the Kindred #14)

You can save her body and damn her soul...
or you can save her soul and watch her die in your arms.

Evangeline Anderson
Brides of the Kindred, book fourteen
ebook, 478 pages
Published January 31st 2015 by Evangeline Anderson Books

Anything for you, Mistress…

Thrace S’ver is an unwilling slave. Drugged and bound, he is taken to the Flesh Bazaar and put up for sale to the highest bidder. But this is not the first time Thrace has been on the auction block—he has a past full of horrors he doesn’t intend to repeat. Desperate to be free, he swears he’ll kill whoever buys him.

Lonnara Trin is the Captain of a merchant ship from the all female planet of Zetta Prime where sexual relations with a male are considered unnatural and wrong. She has no use for males personally, but she needs a big, muscular slave or her business will suffer—Thrace fits the bill.

Soon Mistress and slave are embroiled in a desperate conflict which draws them intimately together. To her surprise, Trin actually begins to have feelings for her slave. And though Thrace swore to be free, he finds himself devoted to his new Mistress. When their differences threaten to tear them apart, Trin tries to grant Thrace his freedom. But she doesn’t realize that his heart has already been… Enslaved.

This was the first of the series that had so little lead up, there was no clue to who it was about. Except for a prophecy of a man born free and enslaved by his own will.

Captain Lonnara Trin, part Earthling thanks to her mother's exotic choice in a sperm donation, hails from Zetta Prime, a colony that was once part of Yonnie Six where men are abused slaves to a nation of women that don't believe in male-female intercourse. Zetta Prime doesn't believe in such sexual acts either, but instead of dominating the males of their species they choose rather to live apart from them.

Having no male slave to accompany her in her trades with Yonnie Six, Trin is forced to buy one such male in hopes of being taken seriously in her business deals. She arrives at Dominus Two during the Flesh Bazaar with the aim of purchasing some well-trained male to pose for a year or two at her side then free him from his life of subjugation. What she finds is Thrace.

A cousin to the Kindred, Thrace is a Havoc. Equal in strength, stamina, and difficulty to kill, their prime is difference is in their bonding. For Kindred, who soul bonds to their mate, their long life span transfers and is shared with their female. For the Havoc, their lifespan is cut short as it averages itself out with that of their female. Kindreds dream share. Havocs do not. For these reason, and others, it is said that Havoc do not bond at all.

Thrace is no stranger to slavery, having been taken as a  teen and sexually victimized by his Master thereafter. He escaped that hell, only to walk into a bar, order up what turned out to be a spiked drink, and ended up right back on the slave blocks. Defiant, and seething inside, Thrace is forced to suffer the agony of his pain collar as the slaver attempts to parade him for Trin. In an attempt to save him, Trin finds herself on the path to becoming a slave herself after assaulting the seller and ends up purchasing Thrace with all but a few credits to her name to escape the courts and their thoroughly bribed officials.

When he awakens, strapped to a cot, the traumas of his youth come barreling to the surface and, despite Trin's gentle mannerisms, his thrashing limbs and fiery temper puts them at immediate odds. Doesn't help that he nearly chokes her to death upon waking either.

Coming from a colony devoid of men, obviously Trin's a virgin. A very ignorant one at that. She knows nothing of sex between men and women, and even less about erections outside that of her pet stallion. Her only knowledge of human intercourse comes from the strict lesbian rituals of her homeland. And poor Trin has never desired a woman's touch. Not like she has come to desire Thrace's.

Thrace was just wonderful. I loved how easily he fell for Trin and how quickly he became so utterly devoted to her. Trin was equally great, until the guilt of her betrayed religion took over and then it was just a long stretch until the girl managed to get over herself.

Seeking atonement for her sins of allowing a male to penetrate her--which Thrace did in order to save her life from passion berry poisoning--Trin flees to her home world to be cleansed by a series of painful punishments dictated by their high priestess in which they slash her skin and murder her pets, among other things.

It takes Becca (book 10) and Charlie (book 13) to save the day and bring our two protagonists back together.

After fourteen books, Brides of the Kindred is still going strong with another installment expected in spring. This time around, the mold gets a bit of a stretch as an assassin falls for his target. Love it! Can't wait to get my hands on it, and hold all hope that this series is long from completion. However, I wouldn't mind a sequel to Purity sometime soon.

4 out of 5 stars.

Previously in the series: