After reading and loving the first book in the series, Hers To Command (5 Stars given), I may have begun reading Hers To Choose with some certain and high expectations. While the story and world building did not disappoint, there were some things that felt a bit missed or different when compared to book 1. Book 1, Hers To Command, was clearly a SciFi Erotica - heavy on the high-heat intimacy, the sexual scenes in large part drove the story forward and the plot was pivotal and dependent on the sexual progression. Book 2, Hers To Choose, is a totally different animal and sub-genre, in my opinion, than book 1.
I'm not saying this is a bad thing. Not at all. It was just unexpected. Let me explain.
Hers To Choose, like Hers To Command, is a Sci-Fi Fantasy. There is no doubt at all about this. It has wonderful science fiction elements - a planetary alliance, attacking alien hordes, a sentient planet - mixed with fantasy elements that have a basis in science fiction, just like book 1. Verdantia, the main planet in both books, has unique electromagnetic properties that makes technology not work on the majority of the planet's surface, so its citizens are reduced back to the age of sword, shield and horse. They are, however, part of the planetary alliance, are scientifically advanced and even have space ships. I can appreciate this idea as I am using a similar scientifically viable situation in a small part of my own series. It makes for a very interesting and fun dichotomy.
The subgenre of Hers To Choose, however, is where it gets a bit iffy. I wouldn't classify it as Erotica or perhaps even Romantic Erotica like book 1. I would classify its subgenre as Romance. Period. Perhaps high-heat Romance, if you want to get technical. While there is a subplot about getting Sophi and Eric together for the sexual benefits of being able to charge the crystals and secure the genetic lineage that is needed to communicate with the sentient planet Verdantia, it is a subplot. The main plot of the story is dealing with Sophi being pursued by the Haarb leader, Krakoll, so he can secure the cinnagrin trade and by Allegra Contradina so she can have revenge on the DeLorion family. That plot is what drives the story forward and is also what truly drives the relationship between Eric and Sophi.
The relationship development between Eric and Sophi was enjoyable to read and I did appreciate the strength of Sophi's character. She is no damsel in distress. She is a flight leader for the Oshtesh people and has overcome hardship and horror. Eric is a bold, big-hearted and honorable man who is the epitome of knight in shining armor if ever there was one. Despite their likability, however, I had a very hard time feeling any kind of real connection with either of them. I am not sure what the cause of the connection barrier was, but I felt no real emotional pull towards either of them or for the events they endured.
That lack of character connection may have put this into a three-star category for me, but Knight's world building and story telling pulled it back up to four stars. The world building, just like in book 1, is phenomenally done and was a splendid enjoyment to read. We get to learn more about the planet, the different cultures living on it, such as the Oshtesh, and its magicka, the science behind the stones that are part of the planet's sentience and charged through sexual energies.
Speaking of sexual energies - there are several intimacy scenes. The book, in fact, starts with one between Eric and a courtesan. For the most part, these scenes fit well into the plot and do seem to have consequence on the story. There are a few scenes where I would have preferred more allusion and less technicality, and there were times when the romance between Eric and Sophi felt almost too sweet to then dive into a heated erotic scene on the next page. I am beginning to wonder if that teetering between sweet romance and erotic intimacy scenes is what caused the character connection barrier and the subgenre confusion in my mind.
I do, however, highly recommend this book to anyone interested in a great story, wonderful world building, good romance, enjoyable characters, gritty evil villains and science-fiction fantasy.