Empire - Michael J HicksThis is probably the first book I picked up that I could truly place within the modern SFR genre - that is, since my reading of Anne McCaffrey's novels. It is free on Amazon, and if I could put my reading of it into a single word, it would be 'Wow!' The book is arguably a war story, but it focuses on the brutal military training of Reza Gard, a human captured by the Kreelan Empire (yup, aliens, and about as alien as they can come) and a very unlikely romance.
The vision of this book is incredible, though I must admit I have yet to pluck up the courage to read further in the series. That should not detract from this recommendation, though. It's that one becomes so immersed in the alien mindset and world that coming back to reality almost induces culture shock! An excellent escapist novel - but don't expect it to be a pleasant read, necessarily. The Kreelans are brutal!
Author site: Author Michael J Hicks