Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Justine Davis - Lord of the Storm

Her every wish is his command.
He lives only to serve her desires.
A warrior. A sex slave from a conquered world.
What will he do to her if she sets him free? Shaylah Graymist, ace fighter pilot for a brutal intergalactic Coalition, is given a slave as a reward for heroism in battle. The incredibly virile slave named Wolf wears a collar which controls him completely, allowing her to make him do anything she wants. Yet Shaylah has an old-fashioned belief in love and refuses to take advantage of him. 
A tense friendship grows between her and Wolf, along with deep desires he refuses to admit. The Coalition destroyed his people. He won't betray their memory.
When Shaylah returns to battle, Wolf rebels and is sold to a prison colony. She frees him, and together they journey to his home planet. 
As she learns more about Wolf, she begins to question her loyalty to the Coalition, and the passions between them burn out of control.

Comment: I see I had this book added to my TBR in 2015 but I can't remember why... it was probably because the protagonists fit into the "opposed attraction" idea or they don't start as equals and that is part of why their relationship happens slow. 
Despite the different setting, I was curious and convinced my friend H. to give it a go and this is why we red it now as part of our monthly buddy reads.

This is a sci-fi romance set in space, in a world where a group of planets/societies (the Coalition) rules many others, and that includes owning slaves from conquered planets/places.
Shaylah Graymist is an officer in the Coalition military and she is well respected for her abilities but deep down she feels a little disappointed with how the society she is in treats others. She definitely doesn't think slavery should be legal and often can't avoid disliking her best friend Califa because she not only does accept slavery but owns slaves, in particular pleasure ones.
On of those slaves, Wolf, is a handsome man and is offered to Shaylah while she's on leave but spending time with him as a sort of friends makes her realize the unfairness of the situation and she decides to help him. But will they be able to be safe if the coalition is after them?

On paper, this story has the ingredients to work out: two people from opposed backgrounds, common tastes and ideals, an enemy to go against, battles to overcome, an escape to succeed and hopefully love to unite them in a HEA.
I think the author thought about all the necessary elements to create a love adventure and added a lot of world building to convince us of how dire the situation is at times but to be honest, I was not as impressed as I hoped for.

This is a book written in 1994, which obviously means the style is a little dated. In some books it doesn't have to be a problem, it's just another element in the book, but I can't help noticing how some things could have been different if the book had been written now. Or even if the story is the same, perhaps the expressions and situations could have been done with slight changes.

Shaylah is an interesting heroine, she considers herself different because she doesn't condone slavery and unlike her peers, she hopes for a bonding, which is a love relationship and not the casual or political/social climbing some others do, especially among the coalition society.
Of course, this endears her to the reader and I was rooting for her to find happiness.
Wolf, the hero, is more complex, because he was turned into a slave but didn't forget his roots or his people. It's certainly easier to sympathize with him and to want things to change between them.

I think what I was more disappointed with was the emotional impact of everything. I think the author could have gone further to enhance the relationship and the feelings of the characters. I wouldn't go as far as to say the story is mechanically presented but it felt to me that the plan was to go from one situation to the other and that made sense but the characters went through the motions and even with adjectives and dialogues saying the opposite, they still acted as if with premeditated steps.

The world building is rich and detailed but at times it felt too distracting from the romance. It also didn't help me that some battle scenes, some machines descriptions and several other "technicalities" sounded difficult to imagine and, honestly, failed to captivate me in the bigger scheme so i just read in the diagonal when those scenes would be up.
The secondary characters are.... under done. I don't think there was a real intent on developing them them besides the basics. For instance, looking at the blurb for the next book in the series, which features Califa, Shaylah's friend, I can't help but thinking " no way" because she was truly horrid here. I bet the author redeems her but... too difficult to imagine that considering the lack of empathy she showed.

Towards the end, when Shaylah helps and rescues Wolf from a certain fate things change and then a slight twist is revealed. At the time this was published I suppose it was innovative and special and a way to change roles between Wolf and Shaylah. However, for me it just feels like an easy way out and too coincidental to be believable. Nevertheless, it has the much appreciated romantic flavor and that obviously counts too.

All in all, this wasn't totally bad but it wasn't as good as I would like. It would be more romantic, I think, to have both their POVs instead of just the heroine's, it would be better to see their relationship develop after they are able to be together but while dealing with their different backgrounds. 
I don't feel like reading the other installments because this was just an OK read. Still, I can understand why many others might like it so much more than me.
Grade: 5/10

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