Summary: Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule. Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him. When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.
In science fiction stories, we often see tales of aliens invading Earth. But what if the humans attempted to invade another planet? And what if they failed? Ava Jae offers a tale set generations later, on a world where the humans left behind are either enslaved or living as nomadic rebels. This book has my favorite opening scene I have read in some time. Ava Jae is a master of worldbuilding through action and dialogue, and the plot was thrilling and delightfully unpredictable. I was immediately taken with Eros, the half-blood rebel who becomes a slave, and Kora, the teenage queen he comes to serve. Their alternating voices are compelling, pulling the story along and creating a nuanced picture of the conflict from both sides. Eros is both the last person Kora can trust, and the only person she can. The forbidden attraction between them practically smokes off the pages. Be warned: there is a short period of glorious kissing. And then there isn’t. And you will want there to be. Long story short: I want the next book in the series, like, yesterday.
BEYOND THE RED is out now.
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