Title : Sandstorm Heart
Series : Space Files R, Book #2
Author : Liv Olteano
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Science Fiction, BDSM/Kink
Length : 118 pages (e-book)
Published : September 18, 2013
Rating : ★★★★
Ron Vid is a Celian soldier with some personal demons. Hoping for respite, he deserts his squad and leaves his planet. Working as a mercenary on Asai, planet of sand and wind, he has a reprieve, until the Haffa named Zaoh joins the mercenaries. Celians and Haffas have a history of strife, but when Ron and Zaoh are paired on a mission, their chemistry crackles. After they fight together for survival, it’s clear Zaoh wants Ron. Zaoh can be a fierce and dominant lover, but Ron’s secrets, and his fear that the Haffa might uncover them, could keep Zaoh from getting his man.
Ron Vid doesn’t like Zaoh Dem. Ron is transfixed by, and a touch infatuated with, Zaoh, but he doesn’t like that fact nor does he like Zaoh. Unfortunately, Ron is a deserter and life as a mercenary is all he’s got. It’s his bad luck Zaoh happens to be a mercenary at the same place. It’s also Ron’s bad luck their boss, who happens to be an empath and Ron’s former sexual playmate, is forcing them to work on a mission together. Immediately things go from bad to worse for Ron. Zaoh knows who Ron is. Ron was part of the military unit involved in the capture of Zaoh and his sister, Tela. Tela died during her interrogation. Zaoh also seems to be rather interested in Ron. Romantically interested. There is a part of Ron that really likes that. That part of him that is transfixed and infatuated. The part of Ron that knows Zaoh will want vengeance on anyone tied to his sister’s death just wants to get this whole thing over with and not think of Zaoh Dem ever again. Of course, that’s when their mission goes bad. The person who was meant to be their point of contact on this mission betrays them. Ron and Zaoh feign breaking during interrogation and take them to a planet that really isn’t their home base. Their captors are easy to kill off once Ron and Zaoh get them out into the blowing sandstorms. They leave the bodies in the hopes the raptors living on the planet spend their time happily eating instead of hunting for the living. Ron and Zaoh take shelter in a cave and tend to their wounds. Ron may be a successful and functional mercenary, but the military actions that killed Tela and the events leading up to it left him with a raging case of PTSD. Zaoh uses sex to defuse the situation.
Ron had been infatuated with Zaoh before, but after sex he realizes it’s more along the lines of obsession that could easily turn into a doomed love. He finds himself accepting that he’ll die by Zaoh’s hand when he learns of Ron’s past actions. After successfully killing the raptors that eventually found them, Ron and Zaoh were able to get off the planet. Ron can’t believe Zaoh wants him. Not only is Ron responsible for Tela’s death, but he’s a deserter with PTSD. Ron is in no way, shape or form, boyfriend material. Zaoh thinks differently. Zaoh has known all along just who Ron is and how messed up he is, and he’s accepted the fact Ron will be his. Zaoh figured out that an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. Things would be all fine and dandy with Ron and Zaoh if the brother of the woman who betrayed them on their last mission wasn’t coming looking for them.
This was a pretty good example of the noble savage trope. In Ron’s world Zaoh was an uncultured and violent, dyed in the wool killer. His sister was as well. Tela was pretty horrible. Ron had good reason to be involved in the military actions that led to her death. It was too bad Ron realized too late that her death wouldn’t actually solve anything. He came to understand his own side was just as bad if not worse. There was also a touch of Grecian style fate in the story. Neither man would have been in their present situation had it not been for the other. Ron and Zaoh were meant to be together. Their attraction was instant despite the horrible circumstances under which they met.
I went into this book with massive expectations. I really enjoyed “The Heracian Affair”. I don’t want to say this book wasn’t as good. I feel “Sandstorm Heart” was just as well written, but I wasn’t quite as affected. Maybe the themes were more to my taste in the previous book. I still feel this was a great piece of speculative fiction and a must read for anyone with a penchant for purple men.
Rated 4 stars by Faye