This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I love steamy romance in a sci-fi setting because I get the best of both a sultry romance and a creative world. This book did not disappoint on both counts and as icing on the cake, it was loaded with good action and intrigue. It might be a case of right book at the right time, but I was totally digging this sultry ménage romance that took the time to establish the background, the characters, and move forward steadily with some hot, sexy times that led to a deep romance between three engaging people that I was fascinated by and loved seeing come together in a relationship.
This is the first story in the Verdantia series and it had the job of setting things up. Verdantia is a sentient planet who chose its own settlers in a human group of colonists looking for a new home. Verdantia emits magick and power that don’t allow for technology so the humans built a civilization that would seem primitive by everyone else’s standards in most ways, but the planet protects her people by using their procreative activities to fuel protective wards and shields around the human settlements. They were left in peace until word got out about the potent aphrodisiac drug that the planet produces and the worth is almost measureless. In the centuries since, the people of Verdantia drifted away from their roots a bit establishing a class society, government and social structure that turned the past into mere legend leaving the planet at risk for invasion because the triad relationship of old was not there to power the shields. Covetous types move in, slaughtering thousands and taking many into captivity to be sold as slaves. Anyone with magick ability is systematically exterminated. The Verdantian people’s survival hangs by a thread and that is where this story takes off.
The High Lord and military officer of rank, Ari deTano, defied even the king himself by refusing the arranged marriage to the princess, and wants nothing to do with being forced in a relationship because of genetic compatibility. He only returns when his people need him. He is a brilliant leader and soldier holding the loyalty of all who fight alongside him to repel the invaders even the loaned troops from the planetary federation he hopes will allow Verdantia to join. He is called away from the fighting when he receives a message that his long avoided duty is now facing him. The royal city and the last line of defense will fall if he does not join with the princess to generate the magick needed to hold the shields.
Fleur is a dutiful daughter and responsible for all her young years. She will do whatever it takes to save her people. The risks are high that she will fail since her magick training isn’t far enough along. But there is no time, she must rely on the fierce and handsome, Ari, to guide her. His strength, looks, and command all call to her and she wants him more than anything, but deep down what she really wants is for Ari to want her back. Ari agrees to honor the old marriage contract, he agrees to give her what she wants from it, and he keeps his word. Then she startles her and everyone else that they might be something so much more- the legendary powerful triad which can save their people. Verdantia has spoken to him about a third.
Doral, Ari’s second in command and spymaster, has loved his commanding officer for so long. He doubts he will ever have him especially as broken and dark as he is. It is hard to watch Ari do his duty now at court and as a diplomat. Danger swirls as Ari works to secure the agreement with the planetary federation. Doral guards his back and watches their enemies from the shadows even as his stiletto silently does the work of protection. No one is more surprised than Doral when he learns that his dream has come true in a spectacular manner. He is genetically matched to Ari and Fleur to make up a powerful triad of lovers that will generate enough power that will power the long dormant planetary defenses once again. Dare he hope that they want him for more than just his genetics?
Alright, so I waxed a little bit eloquent on the summary. I guess I was pretty captivated. I wouldn’t say the story is particularly extraordinary, but yet it has that special something in the blend of adventure, intrigue, characters, and steamy romance that drew me in. There were a few dragging spots, but for the most part, it clipped along nicely for me.
I am fond of true ménage relationships where all the parties are into each other and when it is a true developing relationship. This one is one of those. Ari and Doral are experienced lovers though not with each other while Fleur was nearly an innocent in comparison. This book is like a culture based on fertility rites, but not so much to have babies as to generate magick. Let’s just say these three could power the solar system. At times, the sexual encounters almost felt mundane because of the level of blow by blow detail, but for the most part it was just squirm hotness.
The characters in this trio are all very interesting. Fleur had some childish, spoiled Princess moments that weren’t attractive and I thought I was in for disappointment, but then I was chuckling because each time it happened, she either caught herself at it or she wisely heeded what others had to say and took the immature stuff in hand. She apologized and felt genuine contrition. For realz! That was pretty heady since that doesn’t happen to often with heroines. Fleur was definitely a queen in her actions, her loyalty, duty, and developing wisdom. She was adorable and feisty. She fits well with two such powerful men and she was perfect for getting her two gruff males to talk about- yikes- feelings and have share moments. Each had their place in the relationship with Ari being the leader, Doral being the protector, and Fleur the keeper of their affection. Doral is damaged after years of torture so its up to the other two to help him heal and love. He is a lethal assassin and terrifies most people because of the rumors surrounding the edgy man, but the acceptance and love from Fleur and Ari of all of him, darkness included, helps him open up and hope that he won’t always be in the grip of his past. Fleur might be the queen, but Ari is an alpha and a natural, charismatic leader so it is natural for him to be the true ruler and decision-maker. When he gets a little caught up in himself, the other two have their ways of keeping him grounded.
The action was secondary, but was not stinted on. I enjoyed that side particularly when the enemy plotters were thwarted. I loved to hate on the villains as they were truly despicable types that wouldn’t stop at any atrocity to get what they wanted. They reveled in causing misery and pain in others so I anticipated with smugness a strong retribution which did come.
All in all, I loved reading this one and my intro to the Verdantian world. I will definitely be going back for some more hot sci-fi action and would recommend this to those who love sci-fi romance on the spicy passionate side.
I was gifted my copy of this book by the author and this in no way influenced my honest review.