When mercenary raiders targeted the empathic crystals that imbue the legendary l’auraly lovers with extraordinary sensual prowess, Icere, the last male l’auralyo, helped destroy the crystals. Rather than let the source of uninhibited pleasure be corrupted into a mind-controlling drug, he allowed his passionate destiny to remain forever unfulfilled. Now, Icere channels his fury into revenge. Tracking the raiders through the interstellar sheerways to a watery world infamous for its aphrodisiac liqueur, he finds a queen—as adrift and alone as he—forced for years into a fate she never desired.
Saya-Rynn inherited duty, command and control from her cruel grandfather and fought to transform her dangerous planet into a paradise for her people—but the price was literally a poison that runs through her veins. Though she feels as ancient as the seas, she finds herself awash in the hot male potency of the young Icere. Still, she resists the chance for indulgence she thinks has passed by her. But when the raiders strike again, Rynn must embrace her troubled legacy, and Icere will find his place as a lover and a fighter. Together, the reluctant ruler and the deposed prince of passion find common purpose, combating the mysterious entity seeking to rule the sheerways, and claim a love as bright as the infinite stars.
Slade's language is fantastic. Descriptions are lush and sensual without being explicit, and I'm not just talking about the love scenes. The aquatic world is detailed and rich, with interesting festivals and customs. The story ratchets up the tension at a steady clip, and I found myself spellbound by the seas, the sea monsters, and the give and take between the characters.
Icere and Rynn, the leads, are fascinating people. Both lead lonely lives that make them have to tamp down their own wants and needs, and they recognize that in each other and find it irresistible. Everything Icere was raised and trained for is gone, and he's made his life's mission to save others in honor or what he lost. He's controlled intensity, and when he focuses his attention on Rynn, it's delicious. Rynn has had few choices in her life: raised to be queen and also to carry death in her touch, which she's learned painful lessons from. She's devoted to her children and her people, even if it's not her desire to rule. When she finds someone who appeals to her as herself, her falling for him is amazing to behold. I held my breath for the two of them until the last page.
Recommendation by Lee Koven.
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