Author: K.C. Burn
Publisher: Carina Press
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*Novel provided by the publisher via NetGalley
For more information please visit K.C. Burn's website.
The Galactic Alliance’s most important negotiator, Jathan One-Moon, is responsible for ensuring the yearly negotiations with the Ankylos are successful. If he fails and the Ankylos go to war, the human race will likely be exterminated. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s under pressure to marry and produce an heir. When he mistakes the brothel owner, Kazha Deinos, for his escort prior to the negotiations, the resulting evening makes Jathan realize his life is missing a man who can be a true partner to him.
Kaz never met his most important client, and Jathan’s misconception allows Kaz the freedom to give in to desires he’s never let himself indulge in before. But Kaz has a business to run, one that a rival is trying to steal, which will force him to reveal his true identity to Jay. There’s also the little issue of Jathan’s impending marriage. Kaz is not interested in being a boy on the side of Jay’s marriage, no matter how much he’s come to care for Jathan. Will Jathan and Kaz find a way to be together, or will losing the man Jathan’s grown to love be yet another price he must pay for saving the human race?
Spice 'n' Solace by KC Burn is a futuristic science fiction novel that oozes male sexuality. Wonderfully written with some truly endearing character, this was a quick read with an amazing emotional appeal. Perfect for anyone who loves science fiction novel with hot men with passions that run even hotter!
The premise of this story was definitely one that I hadn't seen before focusing on the owner of a brothel called Spice 'n' Solace, an establishment that caters to male clients with only male employees. Kaz is an interesting character who truly cares about the men under his care insisting on health screenings and safe working environments. It was this aspect of his character that instantly drew me to him as he is selfless when it comes to protecting those that he cares about. This truly shows as he differentiates between his so-called friends that aren't really friends at all and those that rely to him, no matter how indirectly. When he saves a man from being raped on his way home from a bar offering him a place at his establishment in whatever capacity he desires it showcased his need to help and protect, a nuturing quality that exists despite his painful history, or perhaps even because of it. But, under this wonderful heart is a man who feels that he must hide the fact that he prefers a relationship with a man, apparently something that is still frowned upon despite the popularity of his business. This created a wonderful sadness to his character, an emptiness that really drew me in, hoping despite knowing that he would find someone who would love and accept him. Add to his inner turmoil a battle to keep his brothel afloat as attacks are waged in the form of disastrous practical jokes and hoaxes that force him from the role of owner into the position of playing the part of an escort, giving in to his most influential client's every need. A position he falls into almost accidentally, but very willingly. Jathan One-Moon, is a negotiator who carries the fate of the human race on his shoulders. When he comes to Elora Ki for his annual negotiations, he always has a standing order for the services provided by Spice 'n' Solace and this time the man they send to him makes him feel things he never thought he would. Strong and protective, his personality perfectly contrasts to Kaz's tender and caring nature that overlays a the heart of a scrapper, a quality that truly draws Jay's respect. While Jay is interesting and wonderful to read, there was a definite lack of history on his part, making him far less dimensional then Kaz. However, this really didn't seem to matter all that much as the interactions between the two speaks more loudly then his past ever could.
Together these two men have a wonderful chemistry that was amazing to watch develop as Kaz struggles to keep his true position at S'n'S hidden from Jay. There is a lot of sexual tension that is wonderfully explored despite the erotic nature of the novel, and whew! This is definitely one hot novella! But, sex certainly isn't everything as there is a great underlying tenderness that quickly develops between the two as well as some very sweet moments that made their connection all the more intense. Jay's need to protect Kaz while supporting Kaz's need to protect others was really wonderful to see explored, no matter how briefly. I think this added a lot to their dynamic creating a wonderful relationship that I loved to see grow, from beginning to end.
However, while the characterization was key to this novel the world building was far less interesting. Not that the world wasn't well done, because it was. The setting is nicely described creating a very science fiction oriented atmosphere full of unique creatures. The competitive nature in the brothel business also created a great tone of urgency for Kaz as he struggles to keep his business afloat, but this also serves to create some nice action as well. That said though, I also felt that this aspect of the novel was not used to it's full potential. Instead, it was more of a slight subplot that added little to the story. The same can be said of Jay's negotiations which I had thought would play a bigger part within the story. That wasn't the case and most of the aspects outside of Jay's hotel room were pretty well eclipsed by the time the men spent together. All in all, I felt that the more minor elements of the story could have been used to better advantage, however, given the shortness of the novel I certainly can't fault the author for not doing so.
The writing style was great as well, creating wonderful character dynamics and interactions as well as concisely building an interesting world that was complex without being delved in to too thoroughly. I loved the voice in which she wrote the characters, quickly creating men and secondary characters that were endearing, interesting and complex with great emotional appeal and inner turmoil. The only thing I think that could have been improved upon was the ending which felt rushed, leaving threads hanging just as they were being brought to light. I would have liked to see more resolve, but I definitely loved the happily ever after that Burn's presented despite the fact that it was much too rosy paired with the darker views on gay marriage and relationships that tinted the rest of the story.
Overall, this was a great read with some really likable characters that I enjoyed reading. There was a lot of scorching passion and some nice exterior aspects that added to the pace of the story making this a novella that was both quick and enthralling. Burn's definitely illustrated a writing quality that I would be more then eager to explore in her other works and I look forward to trying out more of her stories in the future.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 Scars
Advisory: Graphic m/m sexual content with mild D/s themes