In her first volume of the Sea-anan romance saga, debut author Kong introduces a war-torn galaxy populated by strange aliens with mystical abilities.
When a traitor allows a growing tyrannical empire to destroy Sea Base Ten, half-human Seacat John McCall and his siblings, the royal family of the Sea-anan Empire, fight against the conquerors, the Dominion, until the civilians can fly to safety. Sending their own ships in opposite directions to lead the enemy astray, the siblings are separated, and John is stranded in an unrecognizable part of space, where’s he unable to contact his people. When a group of Surrealans offer him a lift on the condition they stop at their planet first, John is suspicious but desperate. He agrees, not realizing that the Surrealans have ulterior motives: In order to revive their own people from a ghostlike state, the Surrealans must find the soul mates of their people. John is the soul mate of Jasira, a schoolteacher and midwife’s assistant with a fiery temper and a stubborn streak well-suited to challenging the Seacat warrior. But a war against her people left Jasira and many other Surrealans as mist, invisible and silent to non-Surrealans, only able to reform as solid people by borrowing energy from their soul mates. In a series of erotic encounters, she seduces John, who believes he’s hopelessly in love with a ghost. Their peculiar relationship, formed by communicating only through sex and yes-or-no questions, strengthens as they realize they both want the same thing out of life: a family they can keep safe from tyranny and prejudice. Combining elements of sci-fi and fantasy in a space-opera style, Kong has created a strange new universe peopled with interesting alien races. The physical romance between John and Jasira is steamy, though their interactions are necessarily confined, and John has a tendency to scold his ghostly love. The prose is occasionally awkward, too, and the expression of alien dialects is often more confusing than atmospheric. Still, the setup is intriguing, and given the number of John’s siblings, the Sea-anan saga has the potential to keep readers entertained for several installments.
A titillating opening to a space-opera romance series, with enough unique elements to overcome its flaws.