Liam Munson is a linguist and trader for the human military on Prarwont. When a new commander lands at the base, Liam finds himself in danger of being transferred, possibly to the front lines. Again. He can’t have that. If command thought his psych eval was screwed up now, just wait until he was amidst the fighting. He can’t do it, not again. While trading for goods is a menial task, for Liam it is his favorite part of the planet. Especially when Ondry is there. Lucky for him, on this horrible day, Ondry is there. But something is different.
When Liam’s distraction causes him to make a poor deal with Ondry, he thinks his day can’t get any worse, but then General Thackeray shows up and suddenly everything changes. A Rwont grandmother invites Thackeray and Liam to temple, which never happens, and knowing it would be an offense to decline—even for Thackeray who’s not supposed to be off base—they agree.
Ordered by his superior officer to drink a strange concoction at the steps of the temple, Liam doesn’t remember anything until he wakes up in a pillow nest, chained to Ondry’s wall. Ondry keeps calling him palteia, and even as a linguist, it takes Liam a moment to figure the word out. Submissive. Liam can’t deny it’s exactly what he wants—to not be in control. But throughout his life, the people who have promised to take care of him hurt him the most, then they leave or give him no option but to run away. So regardless of his feelings for Ondry or their friendship, Liam is determined not to give into what Ondry wants with him, because someday, he is certain, Ondry will trade him for something new. He just has to wait Ondry out until he can find time to escape and run back to the base. And hope that he doesn’t leave his heart behind in the process.
I’ve wanted to read this book for quite some time but haven’t had the chance, so I was very excited to lay claim to it when Time Travel Week came up. I mean, I have a huge thing for sci-fi books and the author does a great job with this one in that she showcases the alien form and customs while focusing on Liam’s humanity and confusion. I loved this story for its uniqueness and wonder but also for Liam’s off-kilter world. And to watch him find everything he needs made all his fumbling and frustration that much more wonderful. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Liam is not an innocent. He’s a soldier who has seen and done more than most people. Where he has the skills and knowledge to lead, he is pretty much a follower. But he’s also headstrong and determined. I think what I like so much about him is that he is quite smart and considers Ondry a friend from the beginning, yet he underestimates Ondry’s intelligence and value of him. As for Ondry, I love the way the author wrote him as a being that does not fully understand human ways, yet he craves Liam as his palteia.
I have to say the world the author built is impressive. Like the trade business and how it links all sorts of things throughout the kingdom, but also the way the Rwont people have secrets long kept from humans. Or the way they use magnets in such an advanced manner. There’s a simplicity the author gives the Rwont people, yet she advances them in ways the humans could never imagine. Then there are the grandmothers who I found incredible in their wisdom and leadership. The rules of this world and the challenge for a palteia just add onto a world that is already spectacular.
In character, the physical aspects of Ondry and Liam having sex are rather complicated. For one thing copulation is simply for procreation to the Rwont, and it’s far from pleasurable. How could it be?
Ondry was eye to cock with Liam’s very interested sexual genitalia, but he didn’t think the man would recognize the significance of it— not when Rownt penises grew an easy two feet longer and picked up a good thirty pounds as part of their erections .
Not to mention the violent way they actually achieve an erection and are forced to give up genetic material. Yet, I have to say that the most wonderful thing about this story is Liam trying to figure out how to explain to Ondry what it means to have sex in the first place and Ondry’s need to keep his palteia happy. Also the ways in which he gives that pleasure. All kinds of creative.
The only thing I wish for this book is that Liam and Ondry would have ended on a more loving note. I get that Ondry’s people don’t necessarily understand emotional connections, but I’m hoping in book two that will change.
I adore this story and am looking forward to seeing how Liam and Ondry’s relationship progresses. I definitely recommend this book.