Rating: 2.75 stars
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Beau is living in a homeless camp — if it can be called living — when he suddenly finds himself kidnapped by aliens and whisked away to be a progenitor of alien/human hybrid children. Having been raised, and then cast out, by an abusive father, Beau has conflicted feelings on the matters of fatherhood until he gets a chance to get to know Vorian. When Vorian promises that the child created will be theirs, Beau gives in, both to Crux’s scheme and to Vorian’s embrace.
Submitted is the third book in the in the Star Marked Warrior series. Vorian is one of the primary antagonists in the first book, Captured, and appears here as the protagonist in this book. We see here how Vorian, Crux’s son, witnessed and endured the events of the first two books. The first book paints Vorian in a distinctly different light than this story, so it’s left to the reader to decide which version of Vorian is the real one. In the first book, he is his father’s right hand and staunchest ally; in this third entry into the series, he is a victim of his father, helpless to refuse him or stand up for himself. In the first book, he is a powerful warrior interested only in winning; in this story, he is a pawn in his father’s game who only wants to be invisible.
Vorian is the child of rape. His father, Crux, savior of the Thorzi people found a way for a dying race to breed again by crossing their genes with those of humans. Cruz took an interest in the human, Rochelle, and created a child with their combined DNA. Rochelle, rescued by the Thorzi king, her fated mate, has never forgiven Crux and had nothing to do with his child. Her husband, King Xyren, has nothing but hatred for Vorian and, quite honestly, would rather see both he and Crux dead. Vorian, for his part, has nothing but antipathy for the king and a wounded respect for the queen. For his brother, Kaelum, the hybrid prince, Vorian has mixed emotions. There is pride that his brother is doing so well, is strong and clever and respected; a sense of ownership, because Kaelum is his brother; jealousy for the brother who has everything; the desire to push and push to see which of them is better; and sorrow for the distance between them, which will never be lessened. Not so long as Crux and Xyren live.
Beau has always wanted more than he’s gotten. He didn’t want sex, he wanted a connection, a relationship beyond a one night stand or a quickie. He wanted to be wanted, not because was pretty and willing, but because someone saw a value in him, saw him as someone worth keeping and worthy of love. Vorian, who is tall and powerful, intimidating and stoic wants Beau, treats him like he’s special. Kisses him like he means it and touches him like he’s made of glass. And fucks like a god. There’s that, too. Both men want someone to see past the surface to the person beneath the stoic warrior front, or the delicate femme with a shy smile. Vorian wants a family, and so does Beau, and together they’re determined to make one for their child.
Vorian is, in this story, very much a victim of an abusive, narcissistic father and a society that decided to blame the child for the harm caused to his mother. He is hated for who his father is, for what he represents, and Vorian has never had any other way of dealing with this than doing as his father — the one person who actually wanted him, who fought to have him made, who holds crumbs of affection out when it amuses him and whose love is always conditional — commands him to do. It’s not like anyone else has ever lifted a finger for him. However much Crux abuses him, his abuse means he sees him, is willing to touch him, to look at him, to have some care for him.
Those relationships, the ones between Vorian and his father, Vorian and his brother, his mother, and even the Thorzi king could be fascinating, and the hints that are sprinkled through the book are more intriguing than the supposed romance between he and Beau. The reader is told about the understanding the two men have about what it’s like to be the son of an abusive monster, but that conversation never actually happens. If it does, it happens off page where I wasn’t able to see it, which left me the feeling that the relationship between the two is mostly that of proximity and sexual compatibility. There are a lot of emotional leaps or moments of epiphany that feel unearned, seemingly coming about because it’s a convenient time for them rather than because the character organically came to them and it makes for some unsatisfying reading, in my opinion.
This book is more 0.5-2.5 in the series than it is a book three, taking place halfway through book one and partway into book two, and would make very little sense if you haven’t read the other two books in the series. The ending is rushed, so much so that I wonder if there’s going to be a fourth book with another pair of characters to bring about a resolution to the events that took place in book two. Personally, after this book, I’m not so sure I’m interested in continuing this series. The writing is competent, and Vorian is an interesting character, but as a whole, this book was flat and listless, for me. I don’t actually recommend it.