Title: The King's Mistress (A'yen's Legacy #2)
Author: Rachel Leigh Smith
Genre: Futuristic Romance
Publisher: Rachel Leigh Smith
Available: Amazon $4.99 (Kindle) 347 pages
Freedom has a cost. Can A'yen pay it without losing his soul?
Liberation of the enslaved Lokmane begins with the king's family. A'yen and Fae agree to visit the Hidden, a group of escaped Lokmane, to protect his identity while the Shadows make their move with emancipation acts. But A'yen is not prepared for the prejudice rampant in the Hidden, or their lack of patience for him. and his new linked bodyguard is unstable to the point A'yen fears for the young man's sanity.
Upon returning to Titan, A'yen is kidnapped and taken to the largest breeding farm in the galaxy. This time he'll be himself even if it kills him. His resolve to unite his people grows as he wonders if he'll live long enough to do it.
With A'yen kidnapped, Fae returns to the Lokmane homeworld seeking the final pieces of what happened two thousand years ago when they were conquered and enslaved. Getting as far away from her father as possible is the only way to keep her from disappearing too.
Separated by light years, A'yen and Fae have to stand alone and fight for their right to live in freedom. No matter the cost.
Note: The first three A'yen's Legacy futuristic romances are best read in order.
What I liked:
As always, Smith plays on the emotions of the reader with her tortured heroes, and the theme of slavery and what it means to be a slave, to have no rights of your own including what you do with your own body. The political situations and implications of this universe as a whole and what the abolishment of slavery would take and its consequences are fully explored and deftly explained without being an info dump. You see it clearly through the eyes of all those affected, on both sides of the battle. There are multiple story threads woven throughout, some tied off in this book but others still to be settled. The world building and its gritty realism are perfectly done.
What I didn't like:
Considering the title, Fae came across as very much background in this story, a fill in between the events with Ro and A'yen. The pace was slower, with less action, and less angst, and even the big reveal in this one was kind of half-hearted and not really played out well. There was also way too much hugging, touching and cupping of faces in the first third of the book, to the point I got irritated. I understand touch plays an important part in the Lokmane society, but it felt overkill.
This did not live up to its title in my opinion, and wasn't up to the same standard as the first book (in terms of action and emotion, though not a fault in the writing itself). While I can see the necessity for the book to have progressed in the way it did - moving the massive political machine forward to the required level for book three and the crawl towards freedom - it was rather like the political intrigue and underhand dealings of the Trade Federation in the Star Wars prequels: slow and not much action or angst other than that provided by the introduction of Ro. Considering the title, I expected Fae to be much more the focus of this story. However, it is still an enjoyable read (if a little frustrating), and I was still eager to read the next because so much in this book promises more explosive happenings later on. For those who prefer paranormal elements in their scifi romance rather than heavy on the SF, with thorough and in-depth world building, and for the hero-centric.