by Aubrey Ross
Vihlok Torral is a dashing, though somewhat unscrupulous, “contractor” forced into exile on Spaceport Adana. He offers a variety of less than legal services for outlandish fees. When an anonymous client asks him to kidnap a young woman during her wedding and sully her reputation so badly the groom will no longer want her, he’s intrigued.
A past indiscretion leaves Rana Jabulayni little choice but to accept an unwanted marriage. Yet one night alone with her fiancé convinces Rana overthrowing her mother is better than being bartered as part of a trade agreement. Needing time to stage a political coup, Rana arranges her own kidnapping.
Vihlok has dreamed of repaying the corrupt House of Jabulayni for their utter indifference to his people ever since the war ended. A quirk of fate has left his enemy at his mercy and the day of reckoning is long overdue. Knowing the uninhibited people of Adana will shock and scandalize the sheltered princess, Vihlok agrees to kidnap/rescue her. But Princess Rana is not nearly as sheltered as Vihlok presumes and erotic adventures await them both down the corridors of Spaceport Adana.
Spaceport: Reckoning is my first venture into the world of Spaceport Adana. It's a fascinating world these authors have developed. I sense there are a lot of avenues to explore and this particular story wasn't what I expected. The beginning is a bit gritty and controversial and it may even make some readers uncomfortable.
Rana's mother is not a nice person, and she forces Rana to submit to a political marriage with a ruler who is really whacked. The thing I want to emphasize is Rana's strength and ability to rise beyond the proving ground of Vega's little interlude. She doesn't let Vega break her. He just made her decision that much easier to make.
Umar is a character who is a typical foil, yet I found him to have merit. I think he's as much a victim of circumstance as Rana. Initially, I bet you'll be perplexed as to why I felt he has redeeming qualities. Rana doesn't think so. You won't think so, but I can't help it--I think he does.
Vihlok is our hero and is characterized quite well. I enjoyed the descriptives that had me appreciating the man, the brigand and the master that he is. His story is a storyteller's classic favorite and it remains so. I think Vihlok is channeling Han Solo with a serious inner version of Lonestar from Spaceballs and a dash of James Bond's sex appeal. Personally, I find it quite a yummy combination.
The absolute best scene for me is between Vihlok and Rana when he, through his words and actions, healed the hurt that Vega inflicted upon her. Looked at on the whole, starting with Vega and ending with Vihlok, the incident and its ramifications was cleverly written. I give credit to the author for writing about this conflict. In my opinion, Aubrey Ross illustrated very clearly the differences between respectful and joyous erotic romance and blatant and demeaning porn. Perhaps it wasn't her intention, but through Rana, she showed us the powerful impact of eroticism in a relationship filled with respect and trust, which often times leads to love. Anything less cannot last, cannot bring joy and does not endear a reader to the characters. I am impressed.
By the time Rana and Vihlok got their HEA, I was left with the feeling these two lovers are going to go at it like bunnies for years to come. The ending delightfully left me with the question; will there be an Emperor of Devaunt?
Spaceport: Reckoning reads like some of the best in space adventures that you see on T.V. Except television can't give us the heat you're sure to feel between Rana and Vihlok. Some things are best enjoyed between the pages in a book and between the sheets of our beds.
Reviewed by Xeranth