Naturally I was insatiably curious about a novel written with one of the villainous Arum from the Lux series as the hero. Oh, and it crosses over from the YA to an adult novel? Count. Me. In. After reading this one, my perceptions of the two Ying-Yang (light/dark) alien races was turned on its head. Nothing is as it seems will now be my new mantra for any connected books to the Lux/Arum stories. And what a thrill-blast that is.
This book is written as a standalone and it will work as that since it is a parallel story to the author’s popular YA Sci-Fi Romance Lux series. The world building is detailed out- though from a different perspective- so there will be no issues of getting lost and the plot is self-contained.
There is a nebulous tie to the Lux series in one scene and where it falls chronologically is the same time as Lux series book four, Origin, if you are into that series and want to know when you can read it to fit.
In summary, the story opens with Mel, Serena Cross’ best friend, telling her some cray-cray story of people who turn into glowing lights and a conspiracy theory about kids, Pennsylvania and something called Project Eagle. Mel is terrified that these non-humans are after her now. Serena doesn’t believe her until she watches a man turn into a glowing light and blow up Mel’s car with Mel in it. Serena is the only witness and now powerful people want her gone.
Hunter is an Arum working for the human D.O.D. as an assassin for when one of his fellow aliens gets out of line. It suits him to cooperate for now and he’s getting something out of it too. Legally sanctioned killings of the hated Luxen and the opportunity to feed, but now they want him to babysit a human who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. They want to know what she knows and then they’ll decide her fate.
Hunter and Serena stay holed up at his home at the Arum compound in the mountains of West Virginia. They are both strongly attracted to the other even while they are antagonistic. Hunter is alpha to the core and Serena hates to be bossed and the feeling of being helpless. Through run-ins with other Arum, attacks by Luxen and their own heated moments, a relationship that should never be forms. Hunter doesn’t know what end is up. His kind don’t have human feelings and desires. He fights the dual urges to feed off Serena and take her passionately. Serena is still trying to wrap her head around ‘we’re not alone out there powerful people want to kill me and I want the big bad alien who can’t decide whether to kiss me or drain me dry’. She’s feisty and impulsive which causes unnecessary trouble at times, but it does show Hunter that he has those uncomfortable and unwanted feelings to protect and possess the beautiful human. But when Serena is determined to go after the information and proof that Mel left behind no matter how fool-hardy it will be, Hunter decides that its time to part ways.
It is clear pretty quick that I was reading an adult book. These two have the hots for each other from the word go and the horniness is always there. Eventually they satisfy the itch- several times, in detail. I put that out there first because even though I thought I was ready for my first YA to Adult crossover, I still got smacked in the face with the reality. I’m not complaining; just informing. Lord no, I’m not complaining…
So the plot was a typical witness protection-conspiracy thing, but I love that stuff so I was on board from the beginning. I love the added edge that instead of just spec ops types that there is the added factor that there are beings chasing Serena with extra alien mojo. Mostly, the passion/relationship building took front seat, but there were still some really decent fight and flight scenes. That big one at the end was fab. Hunter had me all worked up seeing that bad boy with the ‘take on the world’ attitude to get to his woman.
Hunter and Serena are interesting characters. His blatant arrogance and confidence didn’t irritate me as much as that stuff normally does and I suppose its because there is truth to whatever he says or does. He doesn’t pretend to be something he’s not and he doesn’t sugar coat stuff. It takes him a while to figure out stuff when it comes to Serena, but when he does- oh man. She’s one lucky lady. What you see is what you get and yeah, respect…
Serena is incredible in some ways. She gets a lot thrown at her in a small space of time. Her reactions are totally understandable. Her brain fried and had to reboot a few times, but she didn’t end up rocking on the floor in a ball of gibbering idiocy. She did have a slight TSTL streak in her that had me shaking my head. I get the whole ‘just because I’m human doesn’t mean I’m worthless’ and I can back that thought, but to take it too far with ‘you can’t tell me what to do and I will do the opposite even though I know you are right and trying to protect me’ made her lose points with me. Every time I encounter characters like this (who tend to be of the female persuasion) I lose a little respect because it just comes across as selfish to me. It’s not their life that goes on the line when they do stupid stuff and they are in no position to defend themselves or the guy who has to leap into danger to get them back out of the pickle they got themselves into. Granted Hunter isn’t helpless, but let’s just say more half the fight scenes in this story are because Serena wouldn’t listen and went off half-cocked constantly. She’s always sorry afterward, but then does it again letting her emotions instead of her brain lead.
In Serena’s case, some of it is because she wants justice for Mel and revenge against the power mad types who use and toss aside people. She really does have the right motives about the secret project and wants to protect humans and everyone else from the bad guys. It’s just her methods and mental processing toward a plan that are lacking. And of course, there is the fact that Serena’s activities and behavior does motivate Hunter so I guess its not all bad.
Have to say that apart from the deliciousness that is Hunter, the next best thing was getting the down-lo on the Arum and the alien culture. I knew quite a bit about the Luxen- or at least I thought I did- from reading the other series, but now I know everything isn’t black and white. The Arum are no longer two dimensional bad guys wearing their black hats and twirling their evil mustaches. Oh sure, they aren’t the clean cut heroes either. Hunter makes it clear that he isn’t altruistic or good. He might have a thing for Serena, but he still doesn’t think much of humans and even less of Luxens. Many of his race actually do live to kill and eat Luxens with the humans as collateral damage. But, the background did show another perspective and that the Luxen aren’t all good. This leaves me excited to jump back into the Lux series with Daemon and Katy to see how this new knowledge plays out.
So all in all, this story was a great ride and leaves me eager for more. Maybe Lore or Sin’s stories? Pretty please. Fans of the Lux series in particular and fans of thriller sci-fi steamy romances should pick this one up.