*I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher. This has in no way influenced my review.*
I did a weird thing with this book. I went into it knowing the series might never be completed (though I could be wrong) and there would probably be questions left hanging that I would never get answered. It seemed worth it though, and, in the end, I think it was. Yes, I’m left wondering what the future holds for the characters, but I feel satisfied because there was at least a resolution to the problem that this book was focused on. It was like a happy-for-now, open ending, and I’m alright with that.
Ok, so, why exactly was this book worth it, you ask? For one thing, it had a great story. Lier and Pax were lovers, but then Lier got exiled. Roughly 20 years later, Pax shows up at the bordello where Lier works, except his mind has been altered, so he doesn’t remember Lier and is an entirely different, cold, and cruel person named Raze. And the memories Raze sees of the two of them in Lier’s mind when he drinks Lier’s blood confuse and anger him, making him even more cruel. So for the rest of the story, Lier is stuck in this horrid situation of caring for Raze and trying to hold onto the hope that Pax is still in there… all while being terribly abused by him.
I felt terrible for Lier, so the book was somewhat emotional for that reason—not sobbing emotional, but kind of “noooooo :-( I really want to hug him and take away his pain” emotional. And as more of Pax and Lier’s story unfolded through flashbacks, juxtaposed with the descriptions of how awful things were for Lier in the present, it only made me feel for him more. Not only that, poor Lier was someone who absolutely hated being in a position of submission or weakness, yet that was basically what he was forced into for the past 20-some years in order to survive, and seeing the way he just gave in and took whatever abuse Raze gave him was heart-breaking. On the flip side though, seeing the way he reacted in situations when he was able to take back a position of power was interesting.
The characters themselves were also great. Lier was a little snobbish and sassy but still a good person. He was also a fighter, someone who didn’t give up, which is one of my favorite traits. Pax was really only seen through the filter of Lier’s mind, but I actually loved that because it showed how much Lier loved him, imperfections and all. Pax was kind of clumsy and blundered his way through most things, but he was endearing and genuine. I also found Gene to be a really intriguing character. I underestimated him much in the same way the other characters did, but not only was he intelligent, he was ridiculously good at reading and manipulating people.
There was also the whole backstory of the world and how it came to be at this point with the vampirism and all that. At first I was confused by the world because I’m not used to reading about different planets and species, but it ended up being intricate and creative.
Unfortunately, while this book had a great story, I think I would’ve enjoyed it even more had the POV been handled differently. The 3rd person present tense, as opposed to past tense, felt clunky, and I just kept noticing it. The story also did too much flittering around from one POV to another. Sometimes there would only be a paragraph or two before the POV switched again. And there were five different POVs. Plus there were flashbacks scattered throughout. It wasn’t that it was confusing, just that it made me feel like I was being tossed around a lot and prevented me from being able to get deep into the characters’ minds since I was constantly being ejected out of them just as I started burrowing in.
Overall though, despite the POV issues, this was a unique and somewhat dark but still hopeful love story with great characters that I enjoyed reading!
Anyone looking for a somewhat dark but still hopeful M/M sci-fi love story and who doesn't mind an open ending (in the scenario that the series is never finished).
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For refusing the crown and renouncing his title, Prince Lier was eternally banished from the planet of Arden. After finding asylum in a Deep Space colony, he took a position in a bordello as the Master of Ceremonies. During Lier’s exile, Emperor Sardius I conquered Arden and slaughtered Lier’s people. From the destruction arose a new species dependent on blood. Seizing the opportunity, Sardius praises vampirism and blueprints mass blood manufacturing with Lier’s blood as the key. Lier is not only the last of his kind, but his blood is strangely addictive.
On a mission to capture Lier, Commander Raze, son of Sardius, can’t help but try it for himself. When he does, he experiences strange flashbacks of himself with Lier. Tense relations between captor and captive blur the line between past and present.
During the perilous journey to Arden, forces opposed to Sardius attempt to rescue their lost prince. Raze’s mission changes from retrieval to survival. Soon it becomes clear that, although neither man recognizes what the other has become, this meeting is not their first. And by no means will it be their last.