by Tracy St. John
Series: Warriors of Risnar #2
Also in this series: Worlds Collide
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: May 28, 2018
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
After escaping her alien captors, Anneliese Thompson has reclaimed her life on Earth, but she never forgot the Risnarish man who set her free. Now he’s back with an ominous message—the Monsuda are coming for her again. To survive, she must return to his planet and let his people help her. But this former soldier is done sitting on the sidelines—this time, Anneliese wants in on the fight.
Risnar warrior and scientist Nex Clauhahz searches for the former captives he freed from the Monsudan hive. Anneliese’s fire and strength instantly draw him to her. He vows to do whatever it takes to protect her, even if he has to save her from herself.
As alliances are threatened and new enemies are uncovered, Nex and Anneliese search for a way to defeat their common foe. With everything she cares for teetering on the verge of destruction, including her own warrior strength, Anneliese must prove her loyalty and worth—and embrace a second chance at love and a life worth living.
Who would’ve thought I’d enjoy a instalove alien abduction romance? When I first saw this book pop up for review, I waffled back and forth quite a bit before I requested it, just because those are two tropes I don’t usually enjoy. I’m glad I decided to go for it, though, as I really enjoyed this one. This is the second in a series, and I’d definitely recommend reading the previous book first.
Anneliese, an army veteran who was injured in combat, has been spending the time since her discharge helping out her cousins on the reservation, protesting government encroachment on their lands, and, well, generally being a loner. Anneliese is Native American – a member of the Mohawk tribe – and while Ms. St. John is clear that this is not own voices, she’s married to a member of the tribe and had a female family member check over the book. Oh, and also, Anneliese was rescued from being experimented on in an alien laboratory by a race of muscular cat-like tiger-striped aliens named Risnarish. The bad-guy aliens are called Monsudans and resemble praying mantises, and they control the robotic drones that resemble the typical big-headed space alien thing. Anneliese can’t get the kiss she shared with one of the Risnarish men out of her head. When an alien saucer appears overhead while she’s finishing up some shopping, she immediately fears the bad aliens are going to kidnap her again, but it’s Dex, the alien she kissed, that emerges. Turns out, while they wiped out the particular hive of aliens that conducted experiments on her, there are countless other hives all over their home planet (that they “share” with the Monsudans), and they’ve found out that the other hives are attempting to retrieve the previously freed captives. The solution is to bring her back to Risnar and surgically remove the tracker, and Anneliese is secretly overjoyed at the chance to spend more time with Dex. Once she arrives back on the alien planet, of course, things quickly go south, and Anneliese must use her talents against an unexpected and unwelcome enemy. With both Dex’s and Anneliese’s worldview shaken, does their relationship stand a chance?
While I liked the first book, I enjoyed this one much better. For one thing, I think that since it is the second book, it doesn’t have to do as much basic world building. I also liked that it addressed one of the issues I had with the previous book. In Risnarish society, men and women live very different lives. Women are considered the more spiritual gender and tend to be scientists and such, and are generally calm and serene. Men are much more “human-like,” more likely to show emotion, and are generally the farmers and protectors. So, part of the appeal of human women to the Risnarish men is that they’re not like their own women. The first heroine definitely had a “not like other women!!!” feel to her, and really the female Risnarish were treated as very other and standoffish in the first book. In this book, Dex works closely with one of the women, Salno, and Anneliese eventually befriends her as well.
“Perhaps a teaching that I once received when I went through a phase of correcting others far too often. My guardian reminded me that a good cause is not so good if it’s the only thing making you think you’re worthwhile.”
Anneliese is strong, prickly, and argumentative – basically everything I like in a heroine! Since she was a kid, she’s always stood up for those weaker than her, so it was a no-brainer for her to go into the armed forces. When it’s made clear that the Monsudans are intending to invade Earth, Anneliese insists on joining the fight, though she’s stymied by her injuries and Risnarish custom. As she and Dex grow closer, she starts to realize that while her willingness to fight for herself and others for a worthy cause is noble, it shouldn’t be the end-all be-all of her life. She’s also used to relying only on herself and pretty much actively rejects help, something that puts her at odds with Dex over the course of their relationship. I thought the balance they achieved between them by the end of the book was well done.
OK, since this is an alien romance, I do have to comment on some of the alien-ness. Risnarish can grow appendages (like tails and extra fingers) and they don’t exhibit sexual organs unless they’re actually, well, getting it on. With the very different social structures for men and women, it did make me wonder if there are any transgender Risnarish, or if a female or male Risnarish could grow the opposite sex organ if they chose. I had plenty of time to wonder about things like this while reading the books because, for whatever reason, I didn’t much care for the sex scenes. There’s a bit of a d/s vibe and the heroes seem to have a habit of putting off full intercourse until the very end of the book – unless we’re counting growing a tail and then using that? I don’t think this is the author’s fault, as I also didn’t particularly care for the sex scenes in another alien romance I read recently.
Overall, I enjoyed this book much more than I was expecting. If you like strong heroines but are unsure of alien romances, I think this would be a great book to test out. I’ll definitely be picking up the next in the series!