Forced proximity and a surprise twist make this second entry a hit
Declared by Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This second entry in Sam and Fawkes’ alien Sci-Fi series is just as good as the introduction book but has a totally different tone.
The differences between Jax and Wesley were never more obvious than after their ship was forced to land on the ice cold moon Zathkar with most of its systems damaged but Wes is very quick to put Jax in his place about thinking he’s weak just because he’s smaller.
I loved the dynamics between them. Jax may be in line to be the Thorzi’s next Proeliator, their greatest warrior, but he’s also a ray of sunshine, always smiling and very aware of his place as a hybrid.
Wes may be a human, and more susceptible to the intense cold of the moon, but he’s also resourceful and won’t let Jax despair over the fact he can’t “protect him”.
When Wes meets the leader of the ancient enemy the Zathki that live beneath the surface in cleverly constructed tunnels, it becomes very clear that both sides in the turbulent conflict have been played by Crux.
I loved the tone of this book, it’s a bit less directly political than the first one and there’s obviously less need for extensive world building so the narrative moves swiftly through the crash landing and into the revelations that the Zathki are actually Thorzi also, just a different version. They are the Scientists to the Thorzi Warriors.
They bounce off each other as Jax begins to realise that there is more to what he’s been told about their planet’s history and the nature of the human abductions that Crux (he of the bad behaviour in book one and the series’ main nemesis) has been performing.
Learning about the differences in what are essentially the same people has more than a few similarities with how humanity treats people differently because of their ethnicity or where they were born.
It paints a poignant picture of a home world destroyed by people unwilling to work together towards better goals and instead, utterly destroying their planet and being forced into exile on Thorzan and Zathkar.
There’s also a bit more of a sense of slowburn in the relationship between Jax and Wes, even though it takes place over a relatively short period of time. It’s clear there is an attraction between them, but Jax’s honour and his future role makes him feel he cannot accept Wes as a potential mate because of his own hybrid nature.
Wes, with a great deal of humour, some rather funny pointed Star Trek and Star Wars references which had me chuckling, puts Jax firmly in his place about what’s suitable or not and their have a few very sweet and low key sexual encounters before the main story arc kicks in.
Suffice it to say, eventually things take a turn for the better and Wes’ position as Jax’s mate becomes as obvious as Lucas’ was for Kaelum in book one!
And it all leads into the final set-up for book three which I am desperate for. Kaelum’s half-brother Vorian, the Bastard – like literally that’s his official title! Born from Crux’s forced mating of Kaelum’s human mother and Beau, the most vulnerable of the humans who were abducted from Earth.
I can’t wait!
#ARC kindly received from the authors in return for an honest and unbiased review
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