Let me start off by saying that I'm not much of a fan of romance. I avoid it all costs when it comes to books. Usually my favorites are books that avoid copious amounts of it and just give me a lot of blood and guts. This was the complete opposite.
Kendras wanders into a tavern after having clearly been in battle. His foot is nearly crushed, he's limping, tired, and has no idea where his men are. There he is approached by a grey-eyed man who pays him a silver coin for sex and offers to take him with him to rest and heal. When Kendras and Steel, the grey-eyed man, make it to the place Steel and his mercenaries are staying, he is tended to and fed so that he may heal for the purpose Steel has in mind. Still, all the while Steel needs him for something, Kendras' only need is to find his officer and the surviving men of the Scorpion unit.
It came across like Steel wanted Kendras to be his sex toy but not go so far as acting as a slave.
I can't get my thoughts together ...
After he touches base with the surviving men, theirs this awkward moment between Kendras and Steel that changes how they view each other and themselves. My heart broke a little, especially considering what the officer saved Kendras from before he became a Scorpion because it messed with his head a bit and nearly had him doubting himself. It's when the reader realizes that Steel wants Kendras to stay with him, be loyal to him, and maybe even love him.
After the officer is found, everything changes. He goes from just being the officer of the Scorpions, to Adrastes who is a big freaking deal. By the end of it, Kendras has to decide if he will go with the Scorpions or stay with Adrastes and still be a Scorpion.
My summary will never do this book justice. Kendras is part of a group of people called the Jaishani who are dark skinned with blue eyes. Steel is a grey eyed blonde and the rest of the men are varying shades of white or black. It's M/M. I thought, initially, that I wouldn't like it. I thought their needed to be a warning or something ... I don't even know what ... But once you get into it, the fact that it's M/M doesn't even matter. These are men. Real men. They're strong, they're amazing fighters, fiercely loyal, and even loving. Their are relationships and beautiful dynamics to them. It's romantic but not in a M/F kind of way. It's just strong. It's manly.
This is not your typical M/M book. This is a real story that connects you with all the characters in an intimate way. You want to go on the journey with Kendras, you want to find out what Steel is up to, you want to rip Steels head off for how he treats Kendras, you want to feel the confusion when a certain person meets his end during a kingly battle ... You feel every single word of this. Everything.
Beautifully written. The world building was on point. I 'saw' everyone. Nothing was overdone. It's just ... Perfect. I cannot wait for book 2.
I requested this book from Netgalley because of the cover alone. I'd complained lately that I couldn't find anything (other than street lit) that had a black male lead ... Especially not for anything remotely Paranormal. This is a fantasy novel (or maybe high fantasy. Is their a difference? I'm new to this genre) so their is nothing paranormal about it but it kind of falls along the way of not being historical (because their is no real history here), but not something I'm used to so I'm going for it. Anyway ... Black male leads I've read in the past can't touch Kendras at all. Things that matter right now, like race and sexual preference, are not an issue in the world Voinov has constructed. Kendras is a man. Yes, he may be dark skinned, but he's a man first.
Now usually I shy away from sex in books. I can't stand anything erotic. I skip those pages if I happen to be reading one of those books. But this ... I can't even say it's erotic despite the amount of sex. Why? Because it wasn't excessive. I mean yes, their was a good deal of sex that happened, but it never took up too much space or diverted from the story. It wasn't nasty at all ... Ever! EVER! I wish their were more of this to read.
I apologize if this review doesn't make sense. I'm still blown away.
Kendras (Black) Officer (Black ... :-) )