I purchased this book during preorder and I went into this with high expectations. There’s a war, a rebellion, surrender, secrets, conspiracy. I was hyped. Then it all sorta deflated. It started off after the war, after the rebellion basically after everything and then it jumped two years in time and I was like what happened to all this hype about two smart minds battling it out to discover secrets. Non of that materialise.
The problem really is this novel is set up to be this big political espionage story but none of the politics are clearly defined. More than halfway into the book the reader still has no clear idea of what the war was in the first place, and seeing as far as I can tell, no one really one the war, the government decided to blame it’s own pilots for the war. Sigh. If I am in charge of the military forces and a war needs to happen unless my soldiers go rouge it is most definitely my fault. I don’t see how enough people who are trained to be following orders can be blamed for a war. And, if they did go rogue, being blamed isn’t strong enough. Some serious detail about how they had gone rogue and that this war had zero to do with them and clever PR and damage control needed to happen. My problem again is this is war. Not a small uprising. War requires a lot of people to be involved which takes some military planning. It was just all to sketchy without the details to support it. And the mission was a success so this makes it even more suspect why the government is blaming it’s own troupes when they won.
There’s a lot of talk about Darion and his home planet, and how, apparently, they are all strong enough to overpower other planets and how the people on the planet he’s stationed at don’t like them and so on. But if they are so powerful, why are they just sitting pretty on their own planet? Again, as far as I can tell just because they can do it, that’s enough for treaties and prejudice and as a reader I’m like wouldn’t they show they have a desire to rule the galaxy before all this hate appears? They don’t even want to share their technology with others and seem to not even want to leave their home planet unless absolutely necessary so it’s another not quite fleshed out angle of politics that doesn’t make sense.
This stuff just keeps up through the book. There are meetings about things but there’s no real clues. A meeting about Darion taking in Tolrek as a pet. A meeting about Darion returning to full power to go back to his home country. Conversations about his power and how it works. And, there’s some big secret about Tolrek, how he’s apparently maybe not even Vaironian, it’s obvious he isn’t but it’s downplayed cause the author doesn’t want us to know yet. With all this going on not one character has come out and directly hinted at their end game. All of the hints they drop basically lead to Tolrek’s not so secret to the readers heritage which is frustrating because it’s never mentioned why this is important? Unfortunately, fifty plus percent into the story and there is still no definitive answer on this and none of the unclear politics can be explained till we get past this point.
So with unclear politics the need for negotiators is also unclear. When Darion takes Tolrek, a prisoner into his home, what information is he trying to get out of him? Tolrek doesn’t even know who he is so it can’t be that, and Darion never pries. It literally turns into a love story as if Darion’s only reason for taking a prisoner out of jail into his home was to woo him. It didn’t make sense. And the love story angle literally takes precedent over everything. All punishments are sexual, all the confrontations are to do with the relationship on some level and I found myself reading waiting for all this other side information to pay off but the relationship just persists.
Even after telling us people attempted to kidnap Tolrek twice as a child and succeeded once it’s glossed over. I literally forgot about it until I started to write this review and this begs the question if people knew he was worth kidnapping at age 7 how does the government only ‘suspect’ about him. Clearly someone out there actually knows and some 20 years later the major players don’t?
When Darion finally goes back to his home planet, I got excited thinking that answers are coming. But nope. The Javi ex-lover plot line comes in because we can’t have a love story without a jealous ex ruining it and somewhere in-between sixty and seventy percent we finally get confirmation that Tolrek is of course from another planet. No shock there and enter Jealous ex fighting with Jealous lover and the lover getting blamed when there were tons of witnesses, and the punishment being sexual in nature, again. This was about where I gave up. Especially when the reveal about Tolrek ended with Darion’s brother literally saying he wondered why Darion’s boss let him take in Tolrek, and he questioned his boss’ agenda. Sigh, like I said above no ones motives are clearly defined. It didn’t make sense to take in the prisoner for, so far, the only purpose of romance, and now we still have no clue what the real agenda is and there’s just about 30 percent left and Darion is off to see his parents directly after Tolrek’s punishment for beating up his ex who earned that beat down.
Considering how long it took for just one big reveal and how much page time the love story was sucking up I had to bow out about here. I really wanted to love this story. But based on the blurb, and subtle hints I was not expecting such a massive romance novel which is essentially what I got. Romance is all well and good, I’m a sucker for a good romance, but this story kept trying to get me invested in the whole political espionage subplot and the political angle of it wasn’t clearly defined enough for me to do this.
If you’re looking for a fun relationship style book with steam disguised as punishment, then this book might just fit for you, unfortunately it didn’t really deliver on the battle of minds, suspense, and espionage the blurb promised.