Review: Forbidden Desire – Robin Lovett
by Robin Lovett
Series: Planet of Desire #4
Also in this series: Captive Desire, Stolen Desire
Publisher: Entangled: Scorched
Publication Date: July 13, 2020
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:
Being a sex goddess should be my dream come true—as much sex as I want, with magic powers to heal people, too. Until I realize the enormously strong human I desire most is completely off-limits. My people will put me in prison if I’m caught with a human.
But one encounter together leaves me panting for more. So I kidnap him and take him to an alien sex retreat. I soon discover not only is my big strong human a virgin, his bio-engineering might have made him the largest person I’ve ever seen, but also it made him unable to feel any sensation on his skin.
We’ve got three days to try to heal him with my sex powers before I risk someone discovering us. Then I find out his biggest secret…
Content warnings: View Spoiler »minor ableism (in regards to heroine insisting on healing hero), violence (including death), medical experimentation without consent(off-page, before the book began) « Hide Spoiler
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably seen me flail wildly over this absolutely bananapants scifi erotica series before. It’s absolute bonkers sex planet shenanigans, and it’s hard for me to express how much I love the craziness. And if anything, this book takes the crazy to a whole new level. Niva’s an alien sex goddess with a magic pussy (complete with claws). Graven’s a virgin who literally cannot feel anything physically or emotionally but decides he loves giving oral sex. There’s a sex rock, not to mention like a dozen other pieces of sex furniture in a full-on sex cabin, plus some evil empire plot all tied up in a story that’s essentially about consent. This is the fourth in the series, though I think it could be read as a standalone as most of the backstory, such as it is, is explained in enough detail to make sense.
“Three days of sex with her… I don’t know how I’ll survive. I’m not sure I can do it. It’s going to be embarrassing as hell.
She’s a godsdamn sex goddess.
And I’m a fucking virgin.”
The Fellamana live on a planet that has a toxin that, basically, makes you feel excruciating pain and eventually kills you if you don’t have sex. Niva is a literal sex goddess. She has the power, called the Exstare, to heal illnesses, mental and physical, through sex, and while medical advances make her not as necessary as she once would have been, she’s still a figurehead to her people. It’s a dream job – she gets to have all the sex she wants with anyone she wants, and by doing so she’s helping her people! She’s only had the power for about a month, though, and her position is complicated by the fact that the only other person who developed that power, her cousin Koviye – and the hero of the previous book – defied the council’s orders and ran off with a human. Monogamy is viewed as “human brainwashing” by the polyamorous Fellamana. Because of that, Niva’s forbidden from having contact with humans, and well, I’m sure you can guess where this is going.
“But I’m supposed to heal you. That’s what I do. I’m nothing if…” I trail off, disbelieving what I was just about to say.
“That’s not true, and you know it,” he scolds. “You are worth the infinity of the universe whether you help someone else or not.”
Niva’s young, idealistic and super sweet. She can’t help but want to heal the obviously hurting human who keeps hanging around her office. Graven is the genetically modified son of the presumed dead villain of the last few books, Captain Dargule. As a teen, he was enhanced to be stronger and bigger, the ultimate solider of the Ten Systems, but as a result, he’s incapable of feeling anything, both emotionally and physically. Though he’s been hiding out with rest of the human rebels, he’s not actually an official part of the rebellion, as he escaped his father’s ship during the big battle mess of the last few books. He’s relieved to be out of his father’s clutches, but he doesn’t believe he deserves to have a place in the rebellion, and he can’t explain why he’s so drawn to Niva. In a fit of pique at the council’s high-handedness, Niva invites Graven along on a mini-vacation to her family cabin, determined to heal him. But the damage is greater than she expected, reinforcing all her doubts about her suitability for the position and the limits placed on her. Unlike the Fellamana, Graven’s interested in her for herself, not her powers, and is just as interested in what he can do for her as what she can do for him, if you get my meaning.
“You still don’t know what a hug feels like. I can’t live with myself if—”
“I’m fine. You’re magical. The end.”
This book is told from the dual first person POVs of Niva and Graven, which works pretty well, considering how much each is hiding from the other – for Niva, it’s the consequences of her associating with him, and for Graven, the fact that he’d be executed as a traitor if the rebellion found him out. In between all the sex (this is erotica, after all), I liked that this book explored more of the downsides of the Fellamana culture, in particular how they view with suspicion anything that deviates from their norms. There’s also quite a bit about family expectations. Graven’s burdened by who his father was, while Niva’s father, while obviously a better person by default, is one of the councilors seeking to curtail her freedoms. He’s motivated by love for her, though, and the close relationship between the two is a good counterpoint to the otherwise rather negative portrayal of the Fellamana. As for cons, while I initially found it endearing, I was a bit put off by how fixated Niva was on healing Graven, even against his insistence that it wasn’t necessary. It felt a bit ableist to me and didn’t quite sit right.
Overall, though, this is sexy bananapants escapist fun, and I can’t wait for the next one!