Title: Sky Hunter (Skybound #3)
Author: Fae Sutherland
Length: 53k words
Genre: m/m Sci Fi Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Sex to Story
Keywords/Tags: Series, Series Finale, Netgalley, Space Opera, Royalty, Second Chances, Secrets & Lies, Unrequited Love, Bounty Hunter, Coup d’état, X-Dress
Rating: Pretty Good
Jeret hasn’t looked back since running away from life as a crown prince and joining the Crux Ansata’s crew, but when the Ansata returns to his home system, he finds his father ill and a traitor maneuvering for control. Now that he’s a full-grown man, he can’t just walk away again.
Letting Jeret escape was the biggest black mark on bounty hunter Dagan Nu’aim’s otherwise distinguished years as a royal guard. When he catches Jeret back in-system, Dagan seizes the chance to regain his lost honor and bring the wayward prince home.
Jeret’s not so sure he wants to go, but the reignition of his old crush on Dagan complicates the issue. As the two unravel a tangled plot against the crown, their old friendship lights up with a fiery new desire. And when the traitor strikes and the two men must choose between duty and freedom, neither is certain which to pick.
I’ve been looking forward to this Skybound series finale ever since the first book when I knew I wanted to read Jeret’s story most. I think that a lot of other readers have felt that way too, at least from what I’ve seen. Of all the crew of the Annie, Jeret is the one who seems to have the most secrets. He’s secretive himself, but enigmatic and funny at times, always with a smart quip in response to the others and always wanting to prove himself since he’s the youngest and in many ways considered the baby on board by Torrin. Whether it was intended by the author for Jeret to become such a favorite, I’m not sure. But it does mean that a lot of people who read this series were eagerly awaiting his story, which gives this third book in the series a lot of pressure to stand up to.
Of all the secrets that Jeret could have had… I never expected that he’s a runaway prince! That in itself was a surprise, that I wish that I had found out in the book and not the blurb. But, it’s a good hook to bring people to the story, even if they haven’t been reading the series up till now. The runaway prince is a solid character that always seems to draw in readers. Torrin, Rain and Jeret are the only ones left on the Annie after Cookie left in Sky Runners to live with his new love Neith, who the crew rescued from an intergalactic brothel where Neith had been sold and kept against his will as a whore. Now, with the crew reduced to three and two of those — Torrin and Rain — in a relationship themselves, Jeret feels a bit like the third wheel. Add in the fact that he was always seen as the baby of the crew anyway, and it had Jeret thinking about his past.
When Torrin announces that they’re headed to a planet near the one that Jeret escaped from, he does everything he can to convince Torrin and Rain that heading for a job there is a bad idea, especially when he learns that Torrin has agreed to ferry a shipment that must have come from his home planet. Jeret knows that something is wrong if those on his planet are smuggling off the expensive ore, underneath the nose of the COP, but his caution is ignored by the others.
When they land on the nearby planet, Jeret has no idea that Dagan — once the man who was his guard, his best friend, and the man who held his unrequited love as a 15 year old crown prince — has resumed the search for the heir to the empire under the name of his king. When Jadakira (Jeret’s real name) escaped as he always wanted to do at 15, Dagan lost everything. His failure to protect the prince led to the loss of his whole world and his ultimate banishment from the planet. But Dagan knows Jadi well and it only takes him six months to track his whereabouts and learn about his tenure as part of the Crux Ansata’s crew.
But Jeret, no matter his remaining feelings for the man he once loved as a kid, will not allow anyone to return him to his home planet. He has never had a desire to be king and what he loves most is the mechanics of the Annie, his crew and their adventures in space. His birthright is a cage he escaped years ago. But when he learns that his father, the King, is dying and a traitor planetside is angling to steal the throne, Jeret knows that he has to find the culprit. But he’ll fight Dagan and his “duty” to the King the whole way, and hopefully in the end be able to return to the life he wants to lead.
There are parts of this book that I really enjoyed. There is quite a bit of history between Jeret and Dagan and I thought that their relationship played out beautifully. Both are stubborn and refuse to budge from their ultimate goal: Jeret to return his home planet to the way it should be and then return to the crew of the Annie; and Dagan wants to help Jadi, still not quite understanding his true desires. The fact that Dagan failed in his duty all those years ago is a mark against his pride and he will do everything to return Jadi to his father before his death. The reconciliation of their desires takes most of the book and we really get to see their stubbornness play out against each other over and over, though not too far as to be frustrating. The push and pull between them gave the story the most enjoyment for me, because as the story evolves and they learn to work together for a common goal their true feelings come to matter more than their pride.
On the other hand, I was pretty disappointed in the external plot. The plot to overthrow the king and Jeret and Dagan’s plan to ferret out the traitor. For most of the book the tension mounted and they moved closer and closer but the ending really fizzled for me. First, the traitor was not who I expected, but that was because I never felt as if they were introduced into the plot to even become a suspect. I’m not a big fan of when authors do that. The culprit should have been introduced much earlier. And second because the final confrontation, while a bit satisfying for the characters, seemed a bit… anticlimactic.
So the real interest for me in this story was Jeret, and his love interest Dagan. I enjoyed their back and forth courtship, and I will admit that the tension created by the external plot was more of a device to play into their feelings for one another than the other way around. I think that if you read this story alone, without reading the first two then you might not have the prior interest in the characters to make this a very satisfactory read. I read this because I’d read the first two, and I had an interest in learning more about Jeret. And while I did find what I wanted, this book as a complete story was a little bit disappointing.
So, I recommend this for those of you who, like me, have read both Sky Riders and Sky Runners. For all the books, I found the romances in them the best part of the books. Looking back at this as a series, I would have probably enjoyed more of a central story arc over the whole series that drew them together. But, they are the way they are 😉 And I did find enjoyment from them.
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors S-U, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, SciFi, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Bounty Hunters, Carina, Coup d'état, Fae Sutherland, Netgalley, Royalty, Second Chances, Secrets & Lies, Series, Series Finale, Skybound, Space Travel, Unrequited Love, X-Dress
Title: Sky Runners (Skybound #2)
Author: Fae Sutherland
Length: 51k words
Genre: m/m Sci Fi Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Series, Space Opera, Middle Book, Captive/Kidnapped, Slave, Rent Boy (forced), Dramatic Rescues, Drugs (forced), On the Lam, Bisexual
Rating: Pretty Good
Crux Ansata second-in-command Killian O’Neal has a plan. The governor’s son, Neith, has been enslaved in a high-end brothel. Killian’s going to break him out, take him home and collect a reward. It’s a daring mercenary rescue. What could go wrong?
A lot, as it turns out. The governor doesn’t want his son back, the ship and crew are on the run from the slavers, and Neith is in withdrawal from a drug that instills in him a desperate lust.
A passionate heat flares between Killian and Neith–but is it just the effects of the drugs still in Neith’s system, or could it be something more permanent? They both need time to figure out if what they have is real–but Neith has taken a valuable item from his old masters and they’re not going to let him go easily. When the slavers catch up with the Ansata, Killian will have to choose between the safety of his ship and its crew, or life with the man he’s falling in love with.
I had a love/dislike relationship with the first book of this series, Sky Riders (reviewed here), mostly because though I liked the overall story I found myself drifting throughout the middle of the book. It just didn’t keep my concentration (that is, admittedly, hard to do!). So I went back and forth for a few days before deciding if I should accept this book for review. As you can see, I decided to review it in the end. And though I feel like I had some of the same problems with this book that I had in the first, I’m still glad I made the decision I did. Even if most of that reason is that I need to be caught up for book #3, about Jeret, the one I’m really looking forward to!
Killian, “Cookie” as he’s known to the crew of the Crux Ansata (or affectionately,”Annie”), is the second in command and has watched his captain and best friend Torin fall in love with bad boy Rain. The two are now happily settled and married, for the most part, and life has gone on as normal. Though he loves them all as family his life is still lonelier than the In Between. That all changes on their next rescue mission. Well, call it a rescue mission if you must, but they’re really out for themselves. They’re a mercenary crew and though they don’t go out of the way to hurt others they’re still criminals and happy to take what they can. When they hear of a son of an influential man has been taken hostage and is being kept as a whore on Kalliope 9, they make a plan to rescue the kid and bargain him back to his father for payment.
The plan goes off without a hitch, mostly. They do indeed rescue Neith. The first problem is that he is Rain’s ex-boyfriend and the father in question the man who Rain delivered a major fuck-you to at the end of the first book. Besides the fact that Torin doesn’t want Neith anywhere on board near Rain, Neith’s father isn’t going to pay them shit for his son — both because he hates their whole crew and because he doesn’t really give a shit about his son either. Complicating things further, Neith’s captives are fast on their heels and they’re not sure what they want. Is it Neith, or something he took from them? Neith is keeping secrets. But, it’s natural, he’s been tortured, raped and drugged to want it all with a new designer chemical called Pandora’s Cure, a drug that makes the user crave sex from whoever or wherever they can get it, simultaneously shutting down any worries or fears or ability to think for themselves. With the drug moving out of his system, Neith is dangerous to the crew and to Killian, who wants to be the one Neith wants, even though he mostly wants Rain. Do the drugs affects negate any of the real feelings between the two? Or, is a relationship between rich and beautiful Neith and a big, brawny criminal a pipe dream to Killian?
I had the same problem reading this story as the previous one, in that I just had a hard time keeping my concentration. I’m not sure why. I wasn’t sure with the last one and I’m not sure here… if it’s my problem or something to do with the books. I think the most likely case is that I need quite a bit of sci-fi plot to get me interested in a space opera type story. That’s not the case here. I mean, we do get an overall plot, with the slavers chasing them and all that. But for the most part and for the middle half of the book, this reads mostly like a contemporary romance, just with a few details added in here and there to make sure we remember that they’re in an alternate world/spaceship. The setting fades into the background and the focus was on the couple. And there’s definitely an internal conflict between Neith and Killian. Neith is mistrustful of his own feelings because of the drug in his system and Killian just wants to do everything to protect Neith, while at the same time hope he realizes that what they have is real and for the long haul. I just had a hard time keeping interest. I noticed that my concentration picked up again as the tension mounted in the chase.
But, for the most part this is a good story. I think that you should definitely read Sky Riders first. Not because you’d be completely lost if you read these out of order — I don’t think you would — but because these stories are quite similar in theme and style and if you like the first one you’ll know that you’ll like the second as well. I really want to read the third book, which is coming out pretty soon. It’s about the last of the crew, 18 year old Jeret, who is always the guy who seems to draw my attention whenever he’s in the scene. I just love him, he’s quite a unique character that I can’t describe, but you have to read to see for yourself. So even if this book was only so so for me, I’m glad that I read it so that I could read Jeret’s upcoming book 🙂
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors S-U, Heat 3 - Sexy & Mild, Romance, SciFi, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Bisexual, Captive/Slave, Carina, Dramatic Rescues, Drugs, Fae Sutherland, Kidnapping/Abduction, Middle Book, Netgalley, On the Lam, Rent Boy, Series, Skybound, Space Travel
Title: Sky Riders (Skybound #1)
Author: Fae Sutherland
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 54k words
Genre: m/m Science Fiction Romance
Heat: 4 – Spicy & Smutty
Sex Frequency: 3 – Average Story to Sex
Keywords/Tags: Diverse, Space Travel, Other Worlds, Clashing Alphas, HEA
Rating: So So
Mercenary Captain Torin Covell needs a man who knows his way around a cockpit. Ace pilot Rain needs to get the hell off-planet. Thrown together by chance, the two men form a wary partnership.
Torin has every intention of dumping Rain at the next moon, despite his intense attraction to the hotshot. In his line of work he can’t afford to trust anyone, especially someone as infuriatingly charming and naïve as Rain. But first, he’s got a mission to complete.
What Rain wants, Rain gets. And what he wants is Torin, any way he can get him. The gorgeous captain isn’t making it easy, and the two are quickly embroiled in an erotic battle for supremacy. But when Rain discovers that he’s not the only one in pursuit of Torin, he demands to know exactly what sort of “job” he’s signed on for…
I always enjoy this author’s books, and I love reading science fiction because there’s really a lot of possibilities for different stories, so I was eager to read this when I got it. I finished the book liking it, but that wasn’t the case for most of the story. Though there was always something going on that was well done and likable for me, I still found it hard to commit to this story and find it as engaging as I had hoped.
The problem for me, was that the overall mercenary plot doesn’t really kick in until well after the halfway mark. The bulk of the book is made up of Torin and Rain’s clashing getting-to-know-you games. And while their chemistry is streaming hot and definitely piqued my attention, it wasn’t enough to carry the majority of the story. Then, when the larger plot did get underway, it seemed a little too late to explore it to it’s fullest and ended up feeling rushed near the very end.
Otherwise, this story is well written like all of this author’s work. There is little detail towards the science fiction and most of the story is focused on the characters. The secondary characters came through quite strong and I grew a real liking for Cookie and Jeret, the latter especially. That is probably the best part of this book and what saves it from being a story I wouldn’t recommend — the characters. The chemistry and constant push and pull between Torin and Rain, as well as the quirky makeup of the mercenary crew made for a good story, sadly just not enough to carry the whole story.
Posted by Cole in 3 So So, 41-75k, Authors S-U, Heat 4 - Spicy & Smutty, Romance, SciFi, Sex Freq 3 - Average Story to Sex Tags: Carina, Clashing Alphas, Diverse Pairing, Fae Sutherland, HEA, Otherworlds, Skybound, Space Travel
Title: Equation for Love
Author: Fae Sutherland
Publisher: Amber Allure
Length: 48k words
Genre: m/m Contemporary BDSM Romance
Heat: 5 – Off the Charts!
Sex Frequency: 5 – Over and Over Smut!
Keywords/Tags: Sexy to the 999s, Sex Worker, Sex Tutors, Nerds/Geeks, Hipster-alert!, Alpha Doms, HEA
Rating: Pretty Good
**This review contains some spoilers**
Sex + money shouldn’t = love, but since when does the heart follow any laws but its own?
Recent college graduate and mathematical genius Skye McCord is determined that this summer he’s going to do something he’s always wanted to try—living. And, as a scientist, he’s not leaving anything to chance. He’s got a new job in Las Vegas, a signing bonus burning a hole in his pocket, and what else does a brainy geek spend his money on but an education? But this time, it’s one of a carnal variety.
Liam Maddox isn’t your ordinary gay male escort—he’s actually gay, and he really loves his job. Especially when he meets his newest client. Skye’s cute and awkward and sort of odd, and when he informs Liam that he wants to hire him to teach him everything about being gay, well…Liam’s too intrigued to say “no.”
Except what starts as lighthearted lessons in sex and seduction quickly becomes more as Liam taps into a submissive side of Skye the young man never knew he had. Also, Liam’s never been this drawn to anyone before, and he’s beginning to wonder if he can walk away when their time is up. Or does happily-ever-after exist for someone like Liam with someone like Skye?
Holy freaking’ .. whatever! This was seriously hot stuff!!
Seriously, if this were a real gay sex instructional, I’d be going out to find my own Liam right now. I kinda want to actually! Okay, but seriously, I just finished this and I’m writing this immediately so I had to get that out of the way.
If there is one thing that I love more than anything, in real life and my romance, it is geeky guys. I swear, give me glasses and a stutter, give me a man obsessed with mathematical equations, I don’t care. It’s like wanting to sleep with your professor but he’s young and hot! Then you dress him up like a hipster? Come on, Skye was perfect — well.. but we’ll get to that later.
Skye McCord is fresh from the hallowed halls and about to take his position with an engineering firm. He’s just come out but he doesn’t know how to be a gay man. He was always way ahead in school so he was too young to go out with friends, even if he wanted to be away from his mathematical research. He socially awkward at best and figures the best way to understand what having a life in the real world is like is to set out to learn it, just as he has learned and conquered everything else in front of him. So, he hires Liam, an escort in Las Vegas. He’s expecting perfectly tanned and toned porn stars but what he gets is naturally sexy throwback in a leather jacket full of alpha fire. The only problem is that there may be too much fire to quench in the month that Liam has agreed to give Skye “lessons.” When Skye learns he has a certain aptitude for submission, they have something even more in common.
Well, if you’re looking for something hot and steamy, this will definitely fit the bill. If you’re more into romance, then this might not be for you. I’m not saying that there’s no romance here. It’s full of it, but it is also all done through sex, probably 75% of the book. Almost every scene is sexual in some way, usually full on. For me, this works because I liked to read books like these as long as the story is told through the sex, and I thought that Sutherland did this beautifully. Still, it can be a bit much because it is mostly scene after scene. Still, this is a solid novella at 48k words, and I read it in a few hours, so the shorter length might make it okay for some readers who might not prefer so much sex.
The first half of the book had me hooked. Skye is immediately knocked off his feet when he assumes that he’s going to be able to “study” what is happening to him in order to recreate it with other men. He doesn’t understand passion and the need to let go when he’s so solidly in control of his own mind — precisely why he inexplicably needs and at the same time doesn’t understand submission. This first part worked really well for me because Skye is such a great and open character. He isn’t too submissive, he has some fire, or bratty qualities that Liam loves. I felt like this changed as the story went forward however. When they really start to have feelings for one another, it’s just okay, but then when love comes into the equation and Liam feels the need to step back from the relationship because of his job, I wanted a little more of that fire from Skye earlier in the story. That’s when I felt like it really started getting good, when Skye starts sticking up for himself, and I was sad that that happened very near the end. The 60% to 85% range of the story could have been significantly shorter for me. Or, Skye could have stuck up for himself and the story could have taken a bit of a different turn. I just felt like that part got just a bit stagnate in that they weren’t progressing forward emotionally, and I would have preferred more back and forth.
It makes sense for Skye to act the way he does, it just wasn’t very enjoyable for me to read. I think it might have been a bit more palatable if we got to see the characters away from each other a little bit, doing what they do in their daily lives instead of jumping from “date” to “date.” After all, Skye might not feel much control and feel a lot of confusion during the dates, but scientifically he’s the top of his game and incredibly confident. Seeing some of that (besides one brief point with Liam at a construction site) might have helped separate the two a little, as well as give some readers who might be daunted with so much back to back sex a little breather. Liam, in turn, was less accessible to me as a reader. We get his POV, maybe slightly less often than Skye’s, but he’s so focused on what is best for Skye, that we really don’t know a whole lot about him. There’s a mention later in the book that he might have some family, but apart from a brief story about why he became an escort, there’s not much about him. I would have preferred a bit more.
Personally, this story could have been better for me with some different choices, but I won’t hold them against the author because she didn’t write this for me. And I did like the story. As long as you enjoy lots of sex (though VERY steamy and a great connection between the characters), I think this would be for you. If you’re unsure about so much sex, then maybe take this a few chapters at a time with breaks in-between. I do, however, know that a lot of readers don’t prefer so much, so to those of you I’d say you should probably stay away from this one. This one gets a Pretty Good 🙂 And a HELL YES for burning up the sheets!
Posted by Cole in 4 Pretty Good, 41-75k, Authors S-U, BDSM / Kink, Contemporary, Heat 5 - Off the Charts!, Romance, Sex Freq 5 - Over and Over Again! Tags: Alpha Doms, Amber Allure, Fae Sutherland, HEA, Hipster-alert!, Nerds/Geeks, Sex Industry, Sexy to the 999's, Tutors