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Tracing The Stars

I read mostly science fiction and romance, and often a combination of the two.

Hers To Command (Verdantia)

Hers To Command (Verdantia) - Patricia A. Knight Review: - 5 Unexpected Stars
(I received an ARC to review for my blog, http://www.TracingTheStars.com )

I just want to start off with this, as I have never felt the need to use a meme in a review before... but,
This book has earned the coveted Minions OMG meme because it had everything I could possibly ever ask for in a Science Fiction Erotica to make me a happy reader. Let me explain why...

I will be perfectly honest. It takes a great deal for a work of Erotica to earn 5 stars and impress me while doing it. While I do enjoy a well written intimacy scene in a book, I am not really interested in sex for sex's sake, which is the hallmark failure of most erotica books in any genre. If there is copious amounts of sex going on, I want there to be a very good and believable reason for it. Not only did Hers To Command deliver on that, Knight surrounded the very heated intimacy scenes with substance.

The prologue of the book begins with a historical account of the colonization, uniqueness and history of the planet Verdantia. While I am not a fan of "world building" prologues (which in most cases is just a lazy-author excuse for spewing forth an info-dump in order to avoid having to work it into the actual story), I reserved judgement and continued reading, not really expecting much if the prologue was any indication. Typically, stories with a prologue like that will fail at doing any kind of enjoyable or significant world building within the rest of the book, resulting in an automatic three stars on my score-card. I know this can be seen as a bit harsh, but my background is Space Opera, folks, where world-building is queen, second only to an epic story.

Imagine my chagrined surprise when Knight proceeded to hand me a well-formed world-building hat, lathered in rich story-dripping ketchup, and asked me to eat it. And eat it, I did.

Verdantia and its cast of characters are presented as living, breathing three-dimensional props that support not only the reason for the very heated intimacy, but also a story and world that has a long standing history, a complex present and an uncertain future. There is a war raging on Verdantia, and because of its unique physical properties which renders technological devices useless, the war is a brutal campaign of swords, horses, and all the medieval trappings of a fantasy novel. This is supplemented in the science-fiction sense by the science of the planet's electromagnetic properties, which the commoners call magick, and the participation in the war by the League of Federated Planets. There is an interplanetary war between the Haarb, Verdantia and the LFP who is backing Verdantia in a support role. So, although the book does have a strong Fantasy vibe at times, it is a work of Science Fiction.

So, world-building: Check. Science Fiction with a unique twist: Check. Characters.... Check, Check, Check. Three checks for three very well crafted characters, who are also supported by a full cast of memorable people. Even the smallest role is given enough life for me to remember them twenty pages later. I won't spend much more time on the characters, as I expect many of the other reviews to focus on the three protagonists, but I will state that Ari is a strong, captivating man with presence and a reluctant heart. Fleur is just as strong, with a quick enjoyable wit but who still retains a hint of graceful naivete, and Doral is the aloof, cool, grounding force with a troubled past that completes the Tetriarch.

There are two lead villains - one a corrupted government official who loves money almost as much as he loves himself, and Krakoll who is the leader of the Haarb brute forces who are trying to conquer Verdantia for its wealth of an aphrodisiac spice called cinnagrin. They have almost equal appearances in the book, and I am hoping to see more of Krakoll in book 2, as he was the more viciously interesting of the two.

I think my only true gripe with this book falls back to the prologue. I don't think it was necessary, I think it will, however, lead to the confusion and possible deterrent to readers with less science-fictional interest. I think some of the points in the prologue should be woven into the story (though many are) and it should be removed.

Overall, very impressed and I am looking forward to book 2, Hers To Choose, due out in July.