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Tag Archives: Cari Z

**Note: this review contains spoiler tags, which are shown only on the bottom of the review and not in the book info at the top. If you don’t want to be spoiled, avoid reading the tag links at the bottom of the post please!**

we are family cambionTitle: We Are Family (Cambion: Dark Around the Edges #3)
Author: Cari Z
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 19k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty (It always is with these two!)
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Serial, Short Story, Demons, Urban Fantasy, Magic, Secrets and Lies, Kids, Family, Gay Dads
Rating: Really Liked It

This review contains spoilers for the first two parts of the serial — “Heaven’s On Fire” and “Black Magic Woman”

BLURB

Devon Harper is a cambion, the offspring of an incubus and one of his female followers. Discovered by those who could’ve helped him too late to be saved from his nature, he barely survived a brutal childhood before getting a handle on his powers of seduction. Lust, sex, desire: these are second nature to cambion, and are their road to both riches and ruin. Devon has the power to bring people to their knees with a glance, to drive them so crazy with pleasure that they forget their names, and occasionally forget to breathe as well. He could use his birthright to force the world to worship him, but Devon is trying to fight against the pull, to do what he can to track down people with the power to summon a demon and stop them before more cambion can be made.



But Devon doesn’t realize that the path he and his friends are following is only one strand of a web laid in place by a demon who’s not content to wait on the whims of humanity to get out of Hell. Devon is this demon’s key to staying above ground permanently, and when he finally catches up with the cambion, he’s not taking no for an answer.

Episode 3: We Are Family

Still coping with the aftermath of the deal with Lynlis, Devon decides there’s no place like home and convinces Rio to stop by Devon’s fathers’ lakeside home on their way to pick up Porter Grey’s trail. Along the way, Rio opens up about his past in a way Devon has never known. Then at the lake house, more secrets of Rio’s mysterious origin are revealed, along with a frightening connection between Devon’s family and Porter Grey himself!

REVIEW

Owing to staying sick for about a month between March and April, it’s taken me quite a while to get back into the swing of reviews and get caught up on some of them, especially the two serials from Storm Moon Press, which before getting sick I was thoroughly enjoying. I suppose it isn’t so bad being able to read more than one of them in a row, especially with the Cari Z’s Cambion serial.

We ended the second story in the Cambion serial (“Black Magic Woman”) with the pair gearing up to flee Las Vegas. The City of Sin turned out to have more of a bite than these two were expecting and gave both of them a reminder that though they have some pretty powerful weapons on their sides, they aren’t infallible. In the process of seeking a witch to divine the location of their quarry, Porter Grey, Devon lost his sense of touch for three days. What seemed like one of the better sense to gamble (rather than say, his sight) turns out to be almost impossible to deal with and Devon is relegated to letting Rio take care of him.

The pair flee Vegas to find Porter Grey, who according to the information of the witch Lynlis is in Seattle. But Devon is not up for any kind of mission, so they instead decide to stop in Oregon to visit Devon’s dads. Ren and Emile are an enigma with many of their own secrets to keep. They’re foster parents to cambions, teaching them to control their powers. But going home only highlights the growing feelings between Rio and Devon and puts Rio and his secrets in even more of a precarious position.

I think that what I liked so much about this third installment into the Cambion world is that it takes what we saw in the second and continues to develop it. Of course, some pretty big secrets come out, including the one Rio’s been trying to hide, but while it was nice to find out what he really is, I liked seeing the developing intimacy between him and Devon even more. Devon’s vulnerability stemming from losing his sense of touch brings that connection to the forefront; for the first time, Devon has to overlook his pride and accept help and seeing Devon in such a state shows Rio just how much he cares for the cambion.

Cari mentioned after my review of the second story that soon after this third one we’d get back to more of the action. It makes sense if you’re considering it by the story. Now that they’ve gone home and their relationship is on much firmer ground than the casual sexual and professional relationship they had in the first story, it makes sense that the last half of this season will return the focus to their hunt of the demon summoner, Porter Grey.

I’m looking forward to story #4 (not long of a wait!) and in particular hopefully finding out more about Ren and Emile or seeing if they play any further part in the story. I also can’t wait to see when Devon finds out what Ren is and by proxy what his dads are 🙂

If you haven’t started this serial then this is a good time to get in on the action, with half of it now over (at least, these first 6 installments). If you buy the season as a bundle you get some free goodies along with it, the first of which was just sent out — free story “The South Beach Job”, which takes us back several years to Rio and Devon’s earlier professional relationship when their sexual one is just starting. It’s a good story that shows them before they change by their association with the other. Plus, it’s always fun watching Devon in slut mode 😉


LegalBriefs_500Hey everyone! I want to welcome back Cari Z, author of many wonderful stories and works, including my favorites “Opening Worlds” and Changing Worlds. She’s here today to introduce her story “24 Hours” in the new charity anthology from Storm Moon Press, Legal Briefs. And the best thing is that all of the proceeds from this book are being donated to Lambda Legal. So go check it out!

And welcome to Cari Z 🙂


I’ll be honest: it was the thought of sexy lawyers that drew me to writing for the Legal Briefs anthology.

I mean, it was the good cause! It was definitely the good… actually no, really, the first thing that got me thinking about a story for this anthology was the theme. Men in suits being all competent and decisive, even if they’re only working at the speed of litigation… yum. It’s a wonderful thing that the proceeds for the antho are going to Lambda Legal, which is a very worthy organization doing work to further civil rights for the GLBTQ community. They’re educators and legal activists, and I’m thrilled to have a part in supporting them.

But c’mon. Sexy lawyers. Sexy. Lawyers. The words are practically synonymous.

Of course, there are a lot of other clichés about lawyers out there. That they’re all rich, lying, smooth-talking assholes who would sell their mother to make a buck, to name a few. I like to think about stereotypes when I write, because in some cases, it gives me a goal to steer clear of, and other times, it gives me something to consider in my own characters, to twist or adapt to suit my purposes. Like sexy. That’s not a stereotype I was going to give up just because of its existence, but blend it with confidence and a certain personal disregard and I had something I wanted to work with. Rich? Wealth sets a certain tone, but I set the legal aspects of my story in a law office, so the wealth doesn’t directly apply to a particular person, but to the setting. Lying? There is a liar, but it’s not the lawyer.

And no mothers are sold. I want to be clear about that. There is no human trafficking in my story.

Sexy and somewhat smooth talking, yes. Also blunt, calculatingly argumentative, and genuinely a good person, check. Mrroww.

Planning this story out and putting it together was easy for me, and that’s the one of the most important parts of writing for me. It’s hard to force myself to do something I’m not inspired by, even if it’s for a fabulous cause. For this antho, though, I was ready to jump as soon as I read the call. I hope that the final product appeals to readers in the same way: not just a good thing to be a part of, but interesting, exciting, and fun to read.

Read on for a snippet from my story, 24 Hours.

***

The conference room that Evan and his own lawyer were shown to in the Sampson & Associates law offices was, in a word, posh. The table was a long piece of polished cherrywood that should have been at odds with the smooth black leather chairs and bright white walls, but came off as sumptuous instead. The firm’s secretary showed them in, and moments later an older woman—with platinum blond hair pulled back into a bun, and a crisp navy pantsuit—came in with two cups of rich-smelling coffee, sweeteners, cream and a cool smile.

“Mr. Klempt and his lawyer, Mr. Delour, will be with you shortly,” she said briskly. “I’m Mr. Delour’s personal assistant, Jeaniene. Is there anything else I can bring either of you while you wait?”

Evan looked at Jeaniene, registered her calm professionalism and air of competency, and barely kept himself from begging, “Holy shit, help me!” Sure, she wasn’t a lawyer, but he kind of thought at this point that she might do a better job of representing him than the guy he’d looked up in the phone book at 2 am last night, and who clearly felt out of his depth if the fidgeting was anything to go by. Karl Price, Evan’s new lawyer, had wanted more time to go over things before any meetings, but one rapid phone conversation with Mr. Delour had left him quivering and conciliatory. So they were here today, not even a full day after the assault, with no real expectation beyond getting owned by Klempt and his bulldog lawyer, just like that asshole had promised last night when the cops took him away. Less than twenty-four hours and he was out of jail, just like he’d said.

“No, thank you,” Evan said at last, once it became clear that his lawyer had nothing to say. He started to reach for a cup of coffee, and then retreated with a wince when it pulled at his bruised collarbone. The doctor told him it wasn’t broken, but it sure didn’t feel good after having a bottle smashed against it.

“Allow me.” Jeaniene sized him up for a moment. “A little raw sugar and plenty of cream, I think.”

“That’s how I like it,” Evan replied, a little surprised. “How did you know?”

“I’m good at figuring these things out,” she said. She fixed his coffee, handed over a cup, and then looked at his lawyer. “Lighten up, Mr. Price. This isn’t an execution.”

“Um… what?”

Jeaniene and Evan rolled their eyes simultaneously. She took the tray and its remaining cup of coffee out of the conference room. A moment later Klempt and his lawyer came in. Evan looked up, his heart pounding, hands clammy despite their grip on the hot coffee cup, and—

Huh. This wasn’t the same Josiah Klempt that Evan had been smacked around by last night. That man had been larger than life, loud and florid and extremely drunk. Drunk enough to get angry at the twink he hadn’t been able to pick up at the Park Street Pub, drunk enough to go after him, and powerful enough that when Evan jumped into the fight, before the bouncers could reach them, he’d had no compunctions about swinging an empty beer bottle at Evan instead. It had missed his head, thankfully, but his shoulder was turning a grotesque shade of purple and his face and neck were scratched from the broken glass. The bouncers had arrived and pulled them apart, the cops had shown up, and Klempt was taken away. He was shouting the whole time about how he had the best lawyer in Philadelphia on retainer, how he’d be out in no time, how they were nothing, worthless, garbage. That man had been frightening in his fury.

This man looked shrunken, so cowed he didn’t even raise his head as he and his lawyer sat down across from them. He was still wearing his white suit from the night before, stained and stinking of stale beer. His thick dark hair was mussed and the collar of his shirt was wrinkled, as if he’d been twisting it. He sat a little slumped in his chair, quiet and sullen, and Evan turned his eyes toward the other man.

Donald Delour didn’t look like a bulldog. Or a shark, or any of those comparisons that people threw around when they talked about danger and tenacity. Delour was slim, broad shouldered and… well, kind of… pretty. He had dark blond hair and eyes such a pale blue they were almost transparent, except for a dark ring around the iris. He wore a slim cut gray suit that fit perfectly, and his tie was the same pale blue as his eyes. His face was oddly ageless, flawless except for a beauty mark—good grief, a freaking beauty mark— just to the right of his mouth. He didn’t look like a cutthroat lawyer, but when he spoke, his voice was all business.


Cari Z is a Colorado girl who loves snow and sunshine. She just got back from two years of living in West Africa and is still delighted by the magic of hot running water and the glory that is Wi-Fi. Check her blog for info on new releases, upcoming projects, and works in progress at http://carizerotica.blogspot.com. Her latest short story, “24 Hours”, can be found in Storm Moon Press’ Legal Briefs anthology.


cambionTitle: Black Magic Woman (Cambion: Dark Around the Edges #2)
Author: Cari Z
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: approx. 17,972 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Fantasy Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Serial, Short Story, Urban Fantasy, Magic, Demons, Vegas
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

Devon Harper is a cambion, the offspring of an incubus and one of his female followers. Discovered by those who could’ve helped him too late to be saved from his nature, he barely survived a brutal childhood before getting a handle on his powers of seduction. Lust, sex, desire: these are second nature to cambion, and are their road to both riches and ruin. Devon has the power to bring people to their knees with a glance, to drive them so crazy with pleasure that they forget their names, and occasionally forget to breathe as well. He could use his birthright to force the world to worship him, but Devon is trying to fight against the pull, to do what he can to track down people with the power to summon a demon and stop them before more cambion can be made.

But Devon doesn’t realize that the path he and his friends are following is only one strand of a web laid in place by a demon who’s not content to wait on the whims of humanity to get out of Hell. Devon is this demon’s key to staying above ground permanently, and when he finally catches up with the cambion, he’s not taking no for an answer.

Episode 2: Black Magic Woman
Tracking Porter Grey means making a deal with Lynlis Syfer, a witch with a gift for finding the unfindable. It takes something special to catch the eye of a woman like that, and so Devon and Rio split up in order to blacken the eyes of Lynlis’ two main rivals. But that just gets them in the door. To secure her help requires a sacrifice that may be higher than the boys can afford.

REVIEW

What a pleasant surprise it was when this second installment of Cari Z’s new serial Cambion showed up in my email. The first “episode”, published one month ago, was reviewed here and was something that I really enjoyed. We met Devon and Rio in “Heaven’s On Fire”. Devon is a cambion, half human and half demon/incubus. He has the power of lust and uses it with deadly precision. On the other hand, Rio is an enigma. Secret even among the clandestine group in which they work, Rio is smart, capable and ruthless, yet with a solid and gentle core, something that only Devon really sees. The two have forged a working relationship over time that skirts the edge of friendship. Rio has no reason to lie about the fact that Devon is charming (though his powers don’t work on him), that he likes him and finds their easy sexual relationship comforting. Devon feels the same. He has rather progressive and loose boundaries towards sex anyway, but if there were one man who he’d want something more from, it is Rio.

In “Heaven’s On Fire”, Rio came to Devon’s rescue, extracting him from a deadly situation involving a pleasure house catered to the grotesque and sadistic taste. He was there to make contact and try to apprehend Porter Grey, a dangerous man known for summoning demons. Porter Grey, however, has proved rather difficult to apprehend, making it out of the club alive and setting off on his own. Now, in “Black Magic Woman”, Rio and Devon must make the rounds among the paranormally powerful of Las Vegas to find a way to track the man.

Cari Z is continuing to draw me in with this serial. The first episode hooked me but this one did what it needed to keep my interest up. And more than doing that by leading us to more clues as to the overall and main plot, and about Porter Grey, it takes the time to lay down the bones of the characters (especially Rio in this one) and further develop the relationship between the two. There’s a lull in the action with this story, to really lay the groundwork for what is to come later. I found that this story was just as much to my taste as the first one, even though it was without big explosions and the action that I enjoyed so much. That is because Devon and Rio can hold the story on their own. Devon is just as funny here as I first saw him, with an outrageous personality and Rio’s secrets and air of mystery kept me intrigued, especially as we got to know him better with more of his point of view in this episode.

I’m really looking forward to getting more of the story! I definitely recommend this one, but only you know if you’d rather hold out for the whole story to be completed before you read it. I’m usually that way myself, but so far I’m really getting into reading this serial, which must mean that they’re doing something right 😉


cambionI want to welcome Cari Z to the blog today! She’s here to talk about her new serial at Storm Moon Press, Cambion: Dark Around the Edges, and let me tell you, I really loved the first episode, “Heaven’s On Fire”. Check out my review here and be sure to read below to find out all about the story and why it’s worth it to buy a Season Pass!


The story starts like this: A seductive cambion, a deadly mercenary and a Pomeranian walk into a demon bar…

Actually, it’s not a bar so much as a den of iniquity buried under the Mojave Desert, and the only one who walks in is the cambion. The mercenary uses a more explosive method of entry, while the Pomeranian guards the getaway vehicle. Pomeranians, man: small but fierce. Don’t mess with them.

How did these people get together? What are they looking for? And what do demons have to do with anything?

The first episode of my serial novel Cambion: Dark Around The Edges answers all of these questions, like a good story should, while bringing up a hell of a lot more. That’s part of what I love about writing in a serial format; I can strive to make each episode satisfying in and of itself while still continuing with the overall mystery and sense of suspense. With this first episode, I want you to be hooked, intrigued. I want you to get just enough to satisfy your curiosity but not enough to give it all away. If I do my job right, then you’re going to want to follow this story to the end because not knowing what happens just isn’t an option.

Personally, when I get into a storyline, I tend to buy in all the way. I don’t like unresolved plots (damn you and your wily ways, Supernatural), and so, when I’m watching a TV show on my computer (because I don’t have a TV, I know, what century am I living in?), I usually buy a ‘season pass’. That way, I get every episode, I get commentary, I get extras, everything I could want to satisfy my curiosity, and best of all, then I don’t have to think about it. The season pass for my serial is the best option for those of you who like to know it all, because it’s going to include not just every episode, but the extra scenes and side stories that I couldn’t fit in elsewhere. It rounds out the world, it gives perspective and insight, plus it’s fun. And if you’re considering the season pass, now’s the time to get it, because the first episode, “Heaven’s On Fire”, was just released a week ago. The other episodes will be coming at you on a monthly basis after this, six in all, so saddle up and get ready for a hell of a ride.

Of course, if you’re just not sure whether my particular blend of action, adventure, and hot sex is for you, you get the option of a very affordable taste test. “Heaven’s On Fire” is available at Storm Moon Press for $0.99. This is the one that starts it all, guys: the story, the mythology, the quest. Go on, take a peek into my world. You won’t regret it.


BLURB

Devon Harper is a cambion, the offspring of an incubus and one of his female followers. Discovered by those who could’ve helped him too late to be saved from his nature, he barely survived a brutal childhood before getting a handle on his powers of seduction. Lust, sex, desire: these are second nature to cambion, and are their road to both riches and ruin. Devon has the power to bring people to their knees with a glance, to drive them so crazy with pleasure that they forget their names, and occasionally forget to breathe as well. He could use his birthright to force the world to worship him, but Devon is trying to fight against the pull, to do what he can to track down people with the power to summon a demon and stop them before more cambion can be made.

But Devon doesn’t realize that the path he and his friends are following is only one strand of a web laid in place by a demon who’s not content to wait on the whims of humanity to get out of Hell. Devon is this demon’s key to staying above ground permanently, and when he finally catches up with the cambion, he’s not taking no for an answer.

Episode 1: Heaven’s On Fire
Devon’s infiltration of a Chinese kingpin’s lair doesn’t quite go off as planned, and lands him in a dangerous predicament. Shangdi knows about Devon, and knows how useful a cambion can be, particularly to his partner, the mysterious demon summoner Porter Grey. With time running out for Devon, it’s up to the even more mysterious Rio Pagani to storm the compound and pull Devon out before Porter can put his plans for the cambion into motion.


cambionTitle: Heaven’s On Fire (Cambion: Dark Around the Edges #1.1)
Author: Cari Z
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 16,605 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Paranormal/Fantasy Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Serial, Demons, Action/Adventure, Warrior/Assassin/Agents, Big Explosions!, Vegas
Rating: Really Liked It

BLURB

Devon Harper is a cambion, the offspring of an incubus and one of his female followers. Discovered by those who could’ve helped him too late to be saved from his nature, he barely survived a brutal childhood before getting a handle on his powers of seduction. Lust, sex, desire: these are second nature to cambion, and are their road to both riches and ruin. Devon has the power to bring people to their knees with a glance, to drive them so crazy with pleasure that they forget their names, and occasionally forget to breathe as well. He could use his birthright to force the world to worship him, but Devon is trying to fight against the pull, to do what he can to track down people with the power to summon a demon and stop them before more cambion can be made.

But Devon doesn’t realize that the path he and his friends are following is only one strand of a web laid in place by a demon who’s not content to wait on the whims of humanity to get out of Hell. Devon is this demon’s key to staying above ground permanently, and when he finally catches up with the cambion, he’s not taking no for an answer.



Episode 1: Heaven’s On Fire
Devon’s infiltration of a Chinese kingpin’s lair doesn’t quite go off as planned, and lands him in a dangerous predicament. Shangdi knows about Devon, and knows how useful a cambion can be, particularly to his partner, the mysterious demon summoner Porter Grey. With time running out for Devon, it’s up to the even more mysterious Rio Pagani to storm the compound and pull Devon out before Porter can put his plans for the cambion into motion.

REVIEW

I’ve long been a fan of Cari Z’s work, but it wasn’t until last year when I read “Opening Worlds” and Changing Worlds that I really fell in love with her work, so you won’t even believe how excited I was when I saw that she was going to be writing the other serial started this month at Storm Moon Press. Kris Piet even had to write to tell me to be patient, I was asking about it so vehemently 😉 Thankfully, it lived up to my hopes and really made me excited for this season. Writing a serial must be hard, especially a published serial, because the first episode really counts. There’s so little room to make an impression and show a fully fleshed character (or two), because that’s what really hooks the reader. And I rarely give out more than a Pretty Good rating for the first story in a long series of releases. Usually all we get is a small grasp of what is to come, and a Pretty Good rating is like saying that the author(s) did the best they could with a limited opportunity. But here, I felt like I would have been happy, in most respects, if this were a standalone story. The relationship arc will take a lot longer to develop, but this was sexy enough and the characters have enough chemistry that I felt like it went above and beyond what I was expecting.

Devon is a cambion, a quasi-demon birthed from a human and an incubus. His dual nature affords him special and unique abilities — the best of both races — and some detractions from them both as well. He has magical demonic powers, the most powerful of which is his natural ability to inspire lust. Devon is also a supernatural spy of sorts. Working for a private contract group whose secret mission is to police the underworld of demonic summoning, Devon executes his job like a demonic Mata Hari. He and his group have long been searching for a nasty demon summoner, known for his cruelty, intelligence and luck in escaping authorities and they have finally traced him to a … pleasure house of sorts, run by an old Chinese man named Shangdi who delights in rather perverse displays of cruelty to demons. But when Devon is made deep inside his mission, he’ll need extraction before he’s made an example of for the pleasure of the house. And extraction comes in the way of a rather tall, gun-happy and dog-loving Rio, a man who Devon really likes.

I’m really excited about what is to come this first season of the serial. Devon seems like he can easily get into all kinds of trouble and Rio can always get him out. And the chemistry they have together is explosive. What I really loved was how funny I found this to be, mostly in tone. The point of view comes from both Devon and Rio, so we get a different variation on the scene depending on who is narrating, but what their voices both have in common is a kind of nonchalance for the violence they cause. That detachment struck me as funny for some reason, in a bit of a Tarantino way. And combined with the fact that everything Devon does is tinged with sex, made for a unique and well-written story. I’m just glad that it’s only the beginning!


**Just a note! You can buy each of these stories by themselves (and this one, as the first story, is only $.99), but if you buy a season pass at Storm Moon Press you also get lots of goodies over the course of the season, like a DVD box set — freebies and extra goodies 🙂


Title: Changing Worlds (Worlds #2)
Author: Cari Z
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 71k words
Genre: m/m Science Fiction Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex Ratio
Keywords/Tags: Series, Interspecies, Lots of Enemies, Other Worlds
Rating: Love It!

**This review contains spoilers for those who have not read the prequel story “Opening Worlds”**

BLURB

Includes the short story prequel Opening Worlds at no additional cost!
In this sequel to Cari Z’s Opening Worlds, former starship captain Jason Kim travels to Perelan, the homeworld of his lover, Ferran, to start a life together. The ruling council of the Perels have allowed this unconventional union to continue in the hopes of strengthening relations between themselves and the humans. And while Ferran’s family welcome Jason with open arms, not all of the other major families are as pleased. The arrival of an outsider to their insular, subterranean world challenges the traditions of centuries.



Tensions soar as old rivalries are rekindled in the wake of Jason and Ferran’s relationship. Inevitably, something snaps. Jason and Ferran soon find themselves literally fighting for their lives when xenophobic anger pushes things beyond the breaking point. Only their devotion to one another can see them through, but a ghost from Jason’s past threatens even that. With Perelan on the brink of civil war, Jason and Ferran must find a way to stand together in the face of chaos and to change the world on their own terms before it tears itself apart.

REVIEW

I had heard so many wonderful things about the original story that led to this book, and this book itself, that I was almost worried when I actually started reading them that they might not live up to my expectations. The first story, which I reviewed as part of the Wild Passions anthology last week (and is also offered free when you buy this sequel) definitely opened the door to a wonderful story. I loved it, but it intrigued me more than anything, because there was so much room for growth alongside a relationship that definitely hadn’t been explored to my own satisfaction. Of course, it didn’t take long for me to get this sequel and set out to read it. I sped straight through it, barely taking breaks, and I am left with a sense of awe with this world that is so multifaceted and this story that is put together so artfully.

In the prequel story, “Opening Worlds”, we meet Jason as a space pilot who is carrying a group of Perels home to their rather isolationist planet after a year sojourn among other cultures. What Jason didn’t expect was to fall in love with one of the alien race. Ferran is expected to return with his wild oats firmly sown and settle into married life as a sterile male in a matriarchal society. Their relationship seems doomed to failure from the start, but the possibility for more time together presents itself when Ferran and his mother convince the ruling council of Perels to open a new diplomatic position for Ferran — as long as Jason agrees to marry him. Jason readily agrees, but we’re only left to envision their future ourselves.

The real story comes later, in this sequel novel that starts at the immediate end of the first story. Jason and Ferran are married and move immediately to Perelan, a planet that has hosted only a handful of humans since first contact was made. The union gives Jason privileges other humans haven’t known as ambassadors to Perelan society because Jason is now a Perel by marriage and accepted into their society, though many are not happy about it. The population is split between those who are working towards progressive change — like Ferran’s family and their allies — and those isolationists who are staunchly against the integration of their races. Jason becomes a celebrity, both for good and bad, and finds adapting to an alien life extremely tiring and humbling. The different factions only seem to escalate in their sparring when a rival Perel becomes known and lays down the gauntlet to Jason, spurring those political rivals to violent means that could upset the fragile hard-won peace of their entire race.

I am almost overwhelmed to review this because there’s so much I could talk about. This novel seems to have everything and is a huge success for this author. Much of the story is anthropological. The meeting of two very different races is messy in many ways, with Jason just at the center of it all. The pressure he’s facing is immense, and though Ferran faces similar pressures, we don’t see as many of them. They’re separate for much of their time. Ferran is preparing for his future diplomatic role to represent his race among the other worlds, while Jason is forced to show the positive influence his existence could be for the Perelan society. It is a trial run, and Jason continually feels the pressure of making a perfect impression day after day, all while dealing with the very intense culture shock of integrating into an alien society and living on a planet whose very atmosphere tries to tear him apart. It has the internal and external complications placed upon their relationship as well as the political maneuvering required to continue the forward progression of Perelan integration. Jason has to struggle to remain an independent entity among a society where being male decreases his power and in a family that, though is the best of all alternatives, is still subjecting him to political manipulation to further their own alliances. In the middle of all these other things is the intrigue, danger and ultimate violence that brings out the buried warrior in Jason, to fight for himself, Ferran and his new family.

This was all pulled off remarkably well. The pacing is superb and the balance of the relationship, world building, and politics is admirable. The mood of Jason’s point of view is nervous and wary from the beginning, and that undercurrent of discomfort and pure alienness and isolation is given in much detail. A particular description stuck with me through the story. Jason remarks, just after his arrival on Perelan, how the eyes of the Perels watched him out of the dark his eyes were unaccustomed to. That describes his situation perfectly for much of the story. He’s the focus of attention that makes him uncomfortable, whether in curiosity or hostility, and the pure isolation of having no control on his surroundings is creepy — like eyes staring at him out of the dark. The tone blankets the story in a tense foreshadowing that made their trials seem hopeless and their accomplishments seem even more hard-won. I was also surprised by the direction the story took on several occasions, which kept me on my toes.

I can’t say much more except to urge all of you to read both “Opening Worlds” and Changing Worlds. While I was a previous fan of this author, this book in particular far outshines her prior work. I can only say that I wish Jason and Ferran’s adventures went on forever, simply because I wouldn’t be able not to read them. I would also like to add that I adore the cover for this novel. It perfectly represents the wonder of the planet and the fantastic setting. Very well done and Absolutely Recommended!