Rating: 4 stars out of 5
When Daeron’s mother is offered a risky but lucrative job—rescuing an experimental galinium scientist from Aldegar—the lost loves lurking in her past mean she must send Daeron away to the other end of the galaxy; to the father he’s never met on the Kyleri Empire’s capital, Jiwani.
On Jiwani, the heir to the galaxy’s most powerful empire Prince Osvai balances deference to rigid Kyleri customs with his desire to explore the forbidden secrets of the Royal Baths, and the dark desires no prince should have.
But when a mysterious stranger from the Outer Verge turns up to work with his ambitious Uncle Viscamon, Osvai’s temptations lead him into a web of intrigue that could change the Galactic Balance forever.
As Sanya, Daeron and Osvai pursue their forbidden desires, they become entwined in a galactic power struggle stretching from the frozen tundra of Jansen to the searing memories of Captain Ales’ lost homeworld, Teva.
They’ll soon discover all love has consequence, and the more forbidden the desires, the more deadly the pursuits.
After the brilliant first installment of the series, I was really looking forward to “Forbidden Pursuits”.
I’m not sure if this works as a standalone, tbh. You probably shouldn’t have too much trouble following the plot, since this is set on a different planet, with different protagonists. But you will definitely miss out on some of the finer nuances of the plot, if you lack the background knowledge of book one. So I’d recommend you read “Siege Weapons” first to get the full experience.
Jiwani is a fascinating planet and the author obviously put a lot of thought into the Kyleri culture. The world-building was extremely well done and it was a lot of fun to discover all the details. It’s quite an unusual culture, where noblemen meet up in the public baths and do their business completely naked. And yet they follow a very strict moral code and homosexuality is frowned upon. A gay crown prince would be a huge scandal, so life isn’t too easy for Osvai. I liked the clothes the Kyleri men wear. One of my favourite scenes was when Osvai was getting dressed for an official speech, which is quite the procedure, with countless layers of silk wrappings.
One thing about the world-building had me confused, however. Homosexuality and infidelity are very much frowned upon and yet there are male pleasure slaves that are trained to have sex with other men. This happens quite openly and it just didn’t fit with the strict morals the emperor enforced.
I liked Osvai from the beginning. He probably lost his virginity in the absolutely most unromantic way I’ve ever come across in a book and I loved it. Unlike so many royals in fiction, Osvai is perfectly fine with his role as a future emperor and tries very hard to not let his uncle overpower him.
Daeron is very different and I didn’t particularly care for him. He was irresponsible and very selfish. All he ever seemed to do was complain, have sex with a random stranger or masturbate. He’s a prime example of a man who’s led by his dick.
Just like in book one, there’s a lot of sex. Some of the scenes with Daeron and random strangers weren’t very appealing to me. Sex in a stinky public restroom, bent over the toilet bowl, just isn’t my idea of sexy. And there was one sex scene that was at least dubiously consensual. It didn’t directly involve Osvai or Daeron, but Osvai was a very enthusiastic spectator.
There was a bit more romance than there was in book one and the sex in general isn’t as rough. I have to admit, I didn’t quite feel the attraction between Osvai and Daeron, though. It wasn’t a major part of the novel, however, and only happened toward the end.
Overall, “Forbidden Pursuits” was good but not as good as part one of the series. But it has made me very curious about the next installment. Even though only one of the characters from the first book gets a short scene here, the overall plot is getting moved forward quite a bit.
Again, this is not a romance novel per se. It’s SciFi with gay protagonists that have a lot of sex, but it’s not erotica either.
I like the cover by Natasha Snow. It fits the story and matches the cover of book one very well.
Book details: Kindle Edition, 164 pages
Published December 3rd 2018 by NineStar Press