Author: Edie Ramer
Page Count: 413 KB (Kindle format)
Publisher: Blue Walrus Books
Genre: science fiction romance
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review
Genetically created to be broodmares, Phyrne Galaxy and her mother, aunt and cousin don't need men, they need freedom. They escaped from the warring planet of Kergeron to Earth, where Phyrne’s aunt's vision of winning money in a New Jersey casino comes true. Too bad her aunt's precog didn't show the hoods waiting outside with guns. But Phyrne has her own weapon, more powerful than bullets. She's ovulating.
Phyrne turns up the heat, taking out more than the crooks in her wave of sexual torture. FBI Special Agent Hawk Higgens, running to protect the women, is brought to his knees, too. Caught in her procreative spell, Phyrne ravishes Hawk.
Being seduced by an alien and left half naked and unconscious in the back of a surveillance van changes Hawk's life. He joins the Foundation, a privately funded agency that hunts aliens. Six years later, the reason for his career change pops back on the radar in a tea shop in Kentucky. The woman whose face still haunts his dreams has an addition to her family – a five-year-four-month-old daughter.
At the same time, two Kergeron warriors are sent to Earth to bring the women back to their home planet. With an ex-FBI agent and two alien warriors on her trail, Phyrne's calm life running the Tea & Comfort shop is about to get shaken, stirred and screwed.
Aliens and pheromones and danger, oh my! This is an example of a book that one person can love and one person can really not enjoy. There were some elements of this story that were enjoyable for me, but ultimately I have to say that I could not finish this book, for reasons I will get to in a minute.
Phyrne as a female lead is interesting- she had a horrible life on her home planet of Kergeron and when it became apparent that the death of her abusive mate will not bring a reprieve from the suffering, she and her closest female family members escape to Earth with hopes of starting over anonymously to live happily ever after.
Phyrne can't catch a break though, and as they are about to get mugged in an alley behind a casino, she uses her overpowering allure that comes along with her ovulation to try to seduce her and her family's way out of danger. Unfortunately, Hawk Higgens, who's there as part of an FBI undercover investigation, attempts to intervene, which sets in motion a series of events that neither he nor Phyrne had planned on. The encouner yields a child, and then we fast forward almost six years, to Hawk and Phyrne's next encounter.
The first sexual encounter between Phyrne and Hawk is pivotal to the entire story and yet it left a bad taste in my mouth. It's tempting to just take it at surface value and say that they bumped uglies and had an unplanned pregnancy and the story progressed from there, but for me the element of force that was present made me uncomfortable. Phyrne was using her biological advantage deliberately because she knew men were literally unable to resist her allure; Hawk was unable to say no or to not consent to the sex that followed, based on the rules that are set up for the world of this story. Phyrne made a conscious decision to keep releasing the pheromones even after the thugs that were going to rob them were neutralized as threats. And yet, this is not considered rape in the context of this story. I had to ask myself the question, would a male character be able to act in this way and not be considered a rapist? I mean, if a male character puts drugs in the female character's drink that render her unable to say no during a sexual encounter, we would consider that rape, or at least I would. I wasn't comfortable as a reader saying that that didn't hold true in this case because the character is an alien and it's her genetically engineered vagina doing the drugging.
I understand that Phyrne is desperate to keep her identity a secret and to protect herself and her family from harm and discovery, but that is no reason to act like a brute. We get alternating perspectives from the males of Kergenon that show their truly misogynist views and we know from Phyrne's thoughts that her dead mate was an abusive asshole, but that doesn't make it okay for her to be abusive in turn. Quotes like this, where she sees Hawk outside her shop, made me cringe:
He was spying on them. Phyrne peered out the window of her bedroom over the garage, looking at Lake Road. A blush of pink, the dawning of the day, seeped into the pale gray sky. At the front of their property, across the road, she made out the darker shape of a car and a bright blue aura flashed. Inside her, an answering fury flashed.I did not get the sense that Phyrne was empowered, instead I got a really distasteful sense that she didn't see anything wrong with what she was doing. And considering that this is the FATHER OF HER CHILD, you would think that she might be slightly interested in him as a person.
Did he want another dose of pheromones?
She’d give one to him. Hell, she’d give him a half dozen. She’d make him cry, she’d make him beg, she’d make him crawl.
At this point I had to stop reading. I wasn't invested as a reader and these elements that were problematic for me didn't encourage me to muscle through and keep going. The rest of the story may have been completely different or gone in a completely different direction; I don't know, because I stopped reading.
I do want to mention, though, that another of this author's books, Dragon Blues, is excellent. I read and reviewed it here at What Book is That? as a part of the July indie giveaway festival and I can definitely recommend that title.
Overall Grade: DNF