Everyone seems happy that Lucas’ ex cheated on him, dumped him, moved out of their apartment without telling him why, and left him with a lease he can’t pay, while stealing his cat at the same time. Somehow, despite Lucas being the one cheated on and made a fool of, everyone took Morris’ side. Their friends, which — apparently — are more his ex’s friends than his, and even the people Lucas works with, all of whom were invited to the wedding to celebrate the happy, cat-stealing couple. Assholes.
In this oh-so-wonderful mood, helped by a bottle of Jack, Lucas decides to walk home. That, and his car won’t start, which is just another cherry on the crap sundae of his life. While bemoaning and cursing his fate, and wondering how the hell he got this lost on his way home, Lucas finds himself enveloped in a strange light, which was concerning enough, before he finds himself wrapped in the arms of a giant blue alien. Maybe it’s the liquor, maybe it’s the long day he’s had at work. Maybe it’s shock. No matter what the case is, Lucas faints.
Kaelum is a half-human prince raised on the planet Thorzan, son of the king — the strongest and most powerful warrior of his people —- and a human mother. Where his father’s people are eight feel tall, Kaelum is a foot shorter; where his father’s people have skin strong enough and blue enough to stand the radiation of their hostile star, Kaelum’s skin is the same pink of his mother, making him unable to stand beneath the sun long enough to gain a full compliment of marks on his skin. Even so, Kaelum is determined, like the rest of the hybrids on his planet, to prove himself worthy of being his father’s son.
While on patrol, Kaelum’s ship discovers the cargo ship captained by Crux — a cruel and cold scientist with no morals who is, himself, responsible for several laws about the mistreatment of humans — being attacked. Of course, Kaelum has to help, even if he’d rather see Crux and his son Vorian lost to the dark depths of space. And it’s while saving the other Thorian that Kaelum meets the human “passengers” on Crux’s ship, and it’s where he meets Lucas, the human who catches both his eye and his lust.
Captured is the first book in the Star Marked Warrior series, and it has a lot to offer. It tosses you into the middle of the story without an instruction manual, hinting at a barbaric alien society, interstellar conflict between two alien races, a hostile planet, complex politics, and then throws Lucas in to make things even more fun. And, for the most part, it sort of works. Lucas is more selfish and angry than plucky; he takes to being doted on by an alien prince pretty well for someone who was kidnapped, and yet he doesn’t wallow in angst or fear, choosing instead to make the best of the situation. Especially when that situation gives him Kaelum.
Lucas is aware of the power dynamic between them. He’s been kidnapped and he’s now a prisoner, no matter how prettily it was phrased. He can’t go home, he can’t live on this planet without Kaelum’s support, and while Kaelum is small for his species, he’s still a seven-foot tall warrior, trained in combat, who knows the planet better than Lucas does. But when Lucas says no, stop, Kaelum listens. He stops, he asks, he is willing to let Lucas control the pace of their relationship. Even so far as letting Lucas decide if he even wants a relationship.
For Lucas, fresh out of the agony of his ex getting everything he wanted, the thought of getting something for himself, for being with a partner who wants to make him feel good, to make Lucas the center of attention, well, it’s appealing. And so is Kaelum. Kaelum is kind, noble, earnest, and innocent in a way that speaks to a mind unencumbered with deception or cruelty. Kaelum wants to make things better for the hybrids of his planet, almost as much as he wants to have children with Lucas. (Something which comes as a shock to Lucas, who isn’t going to let anyone implant a kid in him, no thank you.)
Kaelum trusts people even when, perhaps, he shouldn’t. Yes, Crux raped his mother and mistreated humans; yes, Crux kidnapped Lucas and the other humans against their will, but Crux is a Thorian. Which means he, like Kaelum, has the best interests of his people at heart. Kaelum trusts even this man because he can’t imagine a world where someone would work against the laws. Even if Crux is using improper methods, he’s doing it to save their dying race. And that foolish trust he gives Crux is the same trust he gives Lucas, certain that if he gives Lucas his whole heart, Lucas will return it.
Lucas spends the first chapter bemoaning how awful his ex was, and how he was abandoned by everyone. This is to make us feel sympathy for him, but instead it made me wonder how Lucas didn’t notice a problem until his ex was packed and leaving, and how bad of a friend he was that every single friend and co-worker he had chose the cheating ex over him. And then the ex never really pops up in Lucas’ head until the end whenIt came across as cheap and childish and soured me a little on the story. I don’t think this framing device was necessary since it only made Lucas look worse, not better.
All in all this is a fun story with promising world building and the set up for additional couples to be developed in future books. The writing is decent, the pace is good, and it’s a light, fun and quick read. The only downside to this book, for me, is the ending.