by Robin Lovett
Series: Planet of Desire #2
Also in this series: Stolen Desire, Forbidden Desire
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC (Scorched)
Publication Date: November 19, 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:
Gahnin, a Ssedez general, hasn't had a woman since his first mate died a century ago. And since his kind can live for a thousand years, he's still bound by traditional mourning. If he breaks mourning, he could lose his position in the Ssedez military. His friends and family. Everything.
That means no falling in love. No lust. No sex. For another century.
Then he's ordered to guard Assura, a human woman and military special operative, on a planet whose atmosphere causes a sexual arousal so fierce, it drives people insane if it isn't satisfied.
Even though he tries to keep Assura at arm's length, he's hooked. Forbidden desire called to life by a human, the same species who killed his first mate. Assura needs his body if she is going to live. But if he gives in to his passion, it could destroy him.
I think this is being billed more as erotica than straight romance, though it does have an HEA, so I’m just going to call it a romance. A completely bonkers bananapants romance, but still – I have a particular soft spot for scifi romance, and this really hit the mark, plus it’s got the enemies-to-lovers trope. While this is the second book in the series, it works pretty well as a standalone, as I read it without reading the previous book. The only area I felt a bit out of place with was the rebels and their place in the whole galactic war thing, but I got enough of the gist to understand what was happening.
Assura and the rest of the human rebels have crash-landed on a planet inhabited by the Fellamana, the natives, and the Ssedez, who’ve been at war with the humans for centuries. Things happened in the past book that have led the Ssedez to ally with the human rebels, so Gahnin, one of their commanders, is sent to find and rescue Assura. Why does she need rescuing? Well, many of the rebels got separated after the crash, and it just so happens that the planet has some sort of airborne toxin that turns people into sex maniacs (and then kills them, painfully), but, luckily, the Fellamana have an antidote that reduces the worst of the symptoms. Gahnin is in mourning for his wife and child, killed nearly a hundred years ago by humans, so it’s definitely unexpected and unwanted for him to feel the beginnings of The Attachment (basically a fated mates type bonding) with Assura. For her part, Assura’s struggling with her past as a torturer under the orders of the evil human general. So, we’ve got a hot snake-like alien man, a sex planet, some sort of rebellion set in the midst of a galactic war, and two extremely horny but ill-suited people.
“Don’t die,” he breathes against my mouth. “I forbid you to die.” His guttural tone holds the kind of authority that I bet even nature couldn’t defy.
I shake my head. “I have no plans of dying. But I do have plans of saving. Let’s do this.”
I liked both Assura and Gahnin and found their conflicted emotions towards their relationship very understandable. Gahnin’s worried about his betrayal – as he sees it – of his mourning period for his family with someone from the species who killed them, and how that would be viewed by the rest of the Ssedez. Assura has her own trauma to deal with, including feeling unworthy of love due to what she sees as her unforgivable past crimes. She’s fiercely independent and unwilling to let Gahnin help her out, let alone open up to him. What they do share a lot of, though, is sex, absolute bucketloads of sex, some just for the heck of it (hiii, maybe don’t have sex in a random corridor if you don’t want the other Ssedez to hear you!) and some, well, also just for the heck of it, but with higher stakes. So, for example – at one point, soon after they first meet, Assura has had enough with Gahnin insisting on accompanying her to find the rest of the crash-landed rebels, so she basically starts a fight to try to escape. The Fellamana, the indigenous species of the planet, are strict pacifists and take a dim view of the violence, and threaten to withdraw the sex toxin antidote as punishment. The only alternative is to pass it off as a sort of weird alien foreplay, meaning they’ll have to be participants at the Fellamana’s appropriately named Sex Games, where you gain points for creativity and number of orgasms. But, ok, as much as I’m joking about it, it was ridiculously fun to read. There’s some pretty fun action bits as well once Assura joins back up with the rebels, and I thought that added a nice touch to the book. There’s also some particularly interesting bits about consent, both sexual and in terms of Assura and Gahnin sharing their secrets with each other.
“All right, in the name of diplomacy.” I face the Fellamana. “We consent.” I can’t say it with a straight face. Never would I ever have thought diplomacy and sex could go together, but however these games are going to work, I’m into the surprise of finding out.
As for cons, I wish the book was longer. Things at the end felt a bit rushed, with both characters succumbing to The Attachment, Gahnin especially, a bit too quickly after all his protestations. And one more minor pet peeve – part of The Attachment is that by giving in to it, Gahnin’s venom will basically turn Assura into a Ssedez. The loss of her humanity seemed to not bother Assura at all – I think her reaction could be paraphrased into “Sweet! Armored skin and a longer life span? YES!” – but was jarring to me.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this book, and I’ve already bought the first in the series to read when I have the time. If you’re looking for a very sexy, somewhat angsty romance with a side of action, this fits the bill!