Title : Thornless Rose
Author : T.C. Mill
Publisher : Storm Moon Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Science Fiction
Length : 30,000 words (e-book)
Published : July 26, 2013
Rating : ★★★★1/2
Tyrel Uvieras, a bodyguard serving the Union of planetary governments, has been assigned his most interesting charge yet: Verithe Jerrith, Union’s ambassador to what might be the most cursed planet in the galaxy. Something distinctly unsavory surrounds Corrina, whose first contact with Union space came through the stolen equipment of a stranded spaceship. Yet, Union policy requires an answer to the Corrinans’ request for negotiations. The best they can do is send a well-prepared diplomatic party—if it’s possible to prepare for what they find on the planet’s surface.
Tyrel and Verithe discover a mutual attraction, though Tyrel also thinks Verithe perhaps too lighthearted given their dire mission and certainly too gentle—like a thornless rose—to survive long in a dangerous world without protection. Tyrel tries to provide that protection, but the two men are captured in what is just the beginning of their descent into barbarity and treachery. They will be called upon to make unbelievable sacrifices and confront the “curse” of Corrina that brings out people’s darkest desires, endangering sanity and soul. Even their feelings for each other might not give them the strength to endure.
I had not read a space fantasy in a long while. With Thornless Rose, T.C. Mill certainly provided a wonderfully well written, intriguing and thought provoking treat that ended that dry spell in a very satisfying way!
At the beginning of this novella, the reader is dropped without preamble into the planning of a diplomatic meeting that is about to take place. I felt the author deftly parceled out just the right amount of back story and information as the story progressed. It proved both alluring and informative – but without the dreaded “info dump.” The opening chapter introduces us to Verithe Jerrith, a diplomate/negotiator representing the governing Union Base, and Tyrel Uvieras, his assigned security guard. They have been sent to the planet Corrina in response to a request from the apparent leaders of the nearly barren and low-tech planet. I love that while all the crew members could speak Union, Common and their own home planet languages, they were also outfitted with translator implants, so they could recognize and speak the languages of others. Pretty darn cool!
Tyrel and Verithe were accompanied by a small crew, but it was just the two of them who ventured to the surface of Corrina for the meeting. I wondered at this, but it became evident that despite the planet’s mysterious and volatile history, Union’s plan to genuinely and peacefully reach out to the Corrinans involved a nearly non-existent show of force. Of course that familiar saying about the best laid plans all came true…everything went to hell pretty quickly. Tyrel and Veri found themselves fighting for their lives, not only from the native Corrinans, but from a separate, surprising source. I found myself unable to put this book down as the story unfolded. Tyrel and Veri had to battle not only their enemies, known and unknown, but deal with the inhospitable terrain on Corrina. Tyrel found himself battling the potential curse of Corrina, one that according to legend would bring out violence and madness in humans that showed propensity for these traits. They had to choose who to trust – and who not to – including each other. I won’t be going into more plot detail, as I don’t want to take away any of the ensuing suspense. I will happily talk about the wonderful characterizations.
Wow, did I ever take to Tyrel and Veri immediately. Their personalities were a good compliment to each other. Both men were very intelligent. Veri had a calm, genial, laid back nature. He is slight of build, yet strong of character. Tyrel is of formidable stature – he is steady, and bold, with an underlying aggression that he struggles to keep in check. There was an immediate palpable attraction between Tyrel and Veri in their initial shipboard meeting. I felt it… and so did they! After witnessing each other in professional action during the diplomatic talks – Tyrel being the consummate enforcer, Veri the disciplined ambassador – and having survived a deadly firefight, they turned to a physical outlet for their emotions. Veri used his calming influence, and his sexy appeal, to take both of their minds away from a rather dire predicament, at least for a short time. The physical action between these two was highly impassioned. Highly. Ok, where was I….?
I loved Tyrel and Veri, their strengths, their flaws, their differences. The two of them as a couple felt very convincing – they were so darn good for each other. Veri realized that Tyrel struggled with inner demons. Sex between them was the perfect expression of their emotions, and also the turmoil of the situation surrounding them. The hot, primal outlet that their first sexual encounter consisted of evolved into sweet, tender love making the longer they were together. The guys were soon readily acknowledging that they felt much more than simple comfort and release during their sexual forays.
There were several secondary characters in the book that were also very well defined, and were well woven into the plot. I particularly liked the gutsy Santiro, and the self-aggrandizing Ney.
I found the author tended to get just a bit wordy in places, using some complexities to describe character’s feelings and motivations where simpler terminology may have been easier to grasp. I needed to re-read some passages to make sure I clearly understood what was meant.
A beautiful element of the story, and indeed the inspiration for the title of the book, are the rose cuttings that Veri brought on ship with him from his home planet of Hesper. They are gorgeous rose blossoms, yet they have no thorns. Tyrel is in wonderment about how such a plant is able to survive without a darker, obvious protective element. Veri seems secure in some inner enlightenment involving the blooms. The roses become brilliantly symbolic throughout the story, and I do love me some symbolism. Well done!
Again, I truly feel the author did a masterful job of world building. I found myself smack in the middle of what is obviously a much larger galaxy, yet felt I was given all I needed to know for the storyline to make perfect sense. The night I finished the book I had a vivid dream about these characters and their adventures – no, not that kind of dream 😉 – and I woke up happily replaying it in my head. I read a lot, and that certainly does not happen with every book!
I would really love to travel off into space with Tyrel and Veri on further exploits. I also plan on reading Mill’s other works.
*Being quite a visual person, I always check out cover art. The cover here, by the talented Lou Harper, is stunning, and beautifully representative of Tyrel and Veri.
Rated 4.5 stars by Dianne