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    SERIES REVIEW: Galactic Alliance Books 1&2 by K.C. Burn

    Galactic Alliance by K.C. Burn is an oldie but goldie sci-fi romance series about intergalactic love affairs with far-reaching consequences. Published in 2011, three interconnected books can be read as standalone but better experienced by reading them in order.

    It’s too bad that the series is short. The stories are pretty enjoyable. The way the world-building is conceived and with many intriguing side characters, the potential for more books are endless.

    I’ll be reviewing the first two books.

    Galactic Alliance: Spice n’ Solace – K.C. Burn

    Every year, Jathan One-Moon faces increasing pressure that he marry and have children. What Jathan really wants is a male mate that can enjoy both playful sex and his more dominant nature. To tame his stress, Jathan orders a male escort from Spice ‘n’ Solace, the premier male brothel in the Galactic Alliance–and is thrilled to be sent a man whose air of innocence and obvious desire for Jathan arouse him like never before.

    Jathan doesn’t know he has mistaken Kazha Deinos, the owner of Spice ‘n’ Solace, as his escort. Kaz doesn’t intend to pleasure Jathan personally, but his powerful masculinity is irresistible. Kaz has dreamed of a man who’d take charge and indulge his hidden cravings–a man just like Jathan.

    With their explosive passion and unexpected tenderness, Jathan and Kaz soon want to stay together–if Jathan’s position and Kaz’s secrets don’t tear them apart…

    Spice ‘n’ Solace opens the series in Elora Ki, a frontier planet hosting the most important event in the galaxy, the yearly negotiations between the Ankylos Empire and the Galactic Alliance. The Empire and the Alliance have previously been at war, and the most important human in all the galaxy, Jathan One-Moon, is tasked to negotiate on behalf of humans and prevent another war at all costs.

    With the fate of humanity on his shoulders, Jathan’s only stress reliever is the submissive rent boys from the top brothel of the planet, Spice ‘n’ Solace. However, brothel owner Kazha Deinos encountered problems with supply and so went to Jathan’s headquarters to talk to him about it. Neither had met before, but the moment they did, BAM! Pants flew off!

    This employs the mistaken identity trope to steamy results. But this is not just about dominance and popping butt cherries. It also deals with brothel business woes, homophobic friends, sneaky competitors, familial pressures to produce an heir and how Kaz’s presence in Jathan’s life is affecting the tense negotiations.

    The plot is straightforward. The lust was so intense and insta it zinged. The romantic development was equally lightning-fast but executed satisfyingly. These are the best parts and offset the many things glossed over. The negotiations itself barely had page time, the ending was rushed, and how people can still be homophobic at a time where you can fuck all manner of alien lifeforms is beyond me.

    Jathan’s a great character. Son of a famous war general, a man of his word and a considerate dom, he’s the perfect match for Kaz. But my favorite character in the entire series will always be Kaz! He appears down-trodden most of the time. The man is too hard on himself and doesn’t seem to recognize his value but he’s actually a very savvy businessman.

    Kaz created a certain mystique about him whether he intended to or not. I liked how everyone knows his name but couldn’t put a face to it. The only people who do recognized him are the high-ranking members of society who patronized his business. So, of course, he knows all their dirty secrets. It’s like this guy is sitting on a goldmine of information. Imagine what he can do with all that power!

    Sadly, this was not the focus here but I would loved to read a story about something like that. I did get a thrill when Kaz put a scheming politician in his place with his dirty secret when the man was pressuring Jathan. Overall, Spice ‘n’ Solace is engrossing, gritty, sizzling, and sometimes cute.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Solace
    Artist: Feint & Laura Brehm
    Album: Solace

    Galactic Alliance: Alien n’ Outlaw – K.C. Burn

    R’kos, son of the Ankylos Emperor, is expected to settle down. But he’s much more attracted to human males than to his own species. Eager to explore his forbidden longings, he steals a ship and heads to Elora Ki to see if he can find the right human guy.

    Darien robs the corrupt to give to those in need, but now he needs a ride off Elora Ki, stat. Pursued by drug lords, he accepts help from the amorous stranger who calls himself Ricky. As they fly together along Darien’s route, their friendship quickly turns into passion.

    But when Ricky is injured, Darien must contact the embassy to get his alien lover the medical care he needs. As Darien finds himself accused of kidnapping, and Ricky fears his family’s disappointment, can the two protect their growing relationship? Or are their differences just too great?

    Alien ‘n’ Outlaw stars R’kos, one of the many princes of the Ankylos Empire. This year, it’s his turn to be the negotiator. He’s hanging at an Elora Ki bar incognito, looking for a human hookup, when he saw Darien. Liking how the man smelled, R’kos followed the man out to the back. It became apparent Darien was on the run, and R’kos decided then and there to help him.

    R’kos’s species are a hive-minded people who mate in triads, usually a female and two males. They are lavender-skinned, some have horns, have keen sense of smell, but with light-sensitive eyes. As a prince, R’kos’s three parents already arranged who he will marry.

    R’kos is different in that he prefers to be alone, and he’s attracted to males only, specifically human males. How would the Ankylos Empire react to such a union? Not to mention, another catastrophic war might erupt should the prince’s affair with a human go sour.

    R’kos is more familiar with humans because of the negotiations. Darien was a complete fish out of water among R’kos’s people. I loved how these two are all about patience, trust and open communication. R’kos and Darien’s romance is gentle yet passionate. They navigate their similarities and differences and made it work.

    The plot is a road trip across the galaxy, visiting cult-dominated planets, doing some Robin Hood side hustle, fighting off space pirates and meeting R’kos’s sprawling family. The most fun part is witnessing Darien’s culture shock at how spectacularly oblivious the Ankylos are to the concept of privacy. From throuples blithely having sex in corridors to open space unisex lavatories where your business is everyone’s business, Darien was gob smacked and just a liiiittle bit scared.

    With a suspenseful space fight, much-appreciated cameos from Jathan and his crew, and a happy reunion, the ending was much better than the first book. While I didn’t enjoy the visit to the cult, the story as a whole was highly entertaining. Overall, Alien ‘n’ Outlaw is a thrilling space adventure, an eye-opening cultural experience, and an endearing alien romance.

    4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits

    Soundtrack: Run With You
    Artist: Middle Kids
    Album: Today We’re The Greatest

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    REVIEW: Imperfect Illusions by Vanora Lawless

    Devastating Magic: Imperfect Illusions – Vanora Lawless

    A drafted empath. A dreamwalking poet. A world at war.

    Chicago, 1917.

    Idealistic, aspiring poet, Elliot Stone can make people feel euphoria or horror with a simple touch. But that’s only part of his magical abilities. He can also wake in the dreams of people he cares deeply for.

    Stubborn, fiercely independent Warren “Sully” Sullivan is an illusionist with a secret of his own: he feels the emotions of others as visceral sensations. That, and a lifetime of fending for himself, has left him guarded.

    On their last night of freedom before shipping off to training—military and magic—Elliot and Sully indulge in an explosive, emotional night together. Elliot assumes it’s a one night stand and nothing more, until he awakens in Sully’s nightmare. The urge to rescue Sully is impossible to resist. And when dream-Sully begs him to keep coming back, something Sully would never do while awake, Elliot can’t resist that either.

    As real life draws them into battle, their shared dreams become a refuge that only Elliot recalls. So when Elliot has the opportunity to recruit Sully to the secret elite unit of magical soldiers he leads, he’s willing to risk everything for the man he’s fallen in love with in dreams. But being away from the front lines doesn’t mean Sully’s safe. Now they battle enemies with twisted magic where their secrets are a liability.

    Can they bring their dreams—and love—to life? Or will the war cost them everything?

    Historical MM romances set during WWI are few and far in between. Add to that super soldiers with magic, and it’s definitely a must-read!

    Imperfect Illusions is the series opener of Devastating Magic, set in an alt-universe where some people developed magical skills. At first they were shunned, but with the war, governments realized their skills could be useful, and they were drafted into military service.

    Our heroes, Elliot Stone and Warren Sullivan, a.k.a. Sully, were men of certain inclinations who met and had a wonderful night together. They parted the next day for service, thinking they wouldn’t see each other again, but to their surprise, they were training together along with other recruits.

    Elliot has the ability to influence people’s feelings through touch but can also secretly dreamwalk. He comes from a wealthier family and so was made captain. He’s a passionate man who likes writing poems, not really someone you would expect to be a soldier, much more an officer.

    Sully is an empath and has the ability to create illusions. A man whose temper easily runs hot, he frequently has to tune out other people’s emotions, or else he would go mad. He suffers from nightmares caused by childhood traumas, something that Elliot helps him with whenever he enters his dreams.

    The premise is built on the romantic idea of meeting your lover in dreams when far apart in real life. Elliot walks into Sully’s dreams, and there, they talk about things they can’t talk about in their waking lives. Their interactions are free-er, without fear of the homophobic society of their time.

    Thing is, Sully doesn’t or refused to remember these times. Elliot keeps his extra ability a secret, or he’d be put to work even in sleep. Dream Sully is more accepting and more honest to himself and his lover, confessing fears and secrets to Elliot. Real world Sully pushes and pulls, confused about his feelings for a man he’s so drawn to after spending only one night together a lifetime ago.

    As a romance, the book delivered a compelling story of forbidden love between two men who constantly put their lives at risk. Equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming, with precious stolen moments and a swoony HFN that made it so much worth the risk and heartaches.

    As a fantasy, the world-building is adequate enough to establish that it is WWI and that there are people with superpowers governments are using as special forces. Beyond that, it didn’t delve into details like, magic systems, origins, classifications, etc.

    The setting reminded me a bit of the long ago TV series Young Indiana Jones, but this being alt-universe, there were some liberties taken with the historical elements. In truth, I didn’t feel the 1917-ness of it. The writing didn’t provide many historical details that would have made the era come alive. It feels more like they just borrowed WWI military clothes and did something vaguely WWI-ish.

    Also, Elliot and Sully were from Chicago. I thought Americans only joined during WWII. Maybe I’m wrong. Anyway, this is a fantasy book, so no biggie.

    In terms of storytelling, it was slow going at the start. It got to the point that I had to put the book on hold for a couple of months. I’m glad I gave it a second chance because it hit its stride about time the boys finished training and were deployed in separate countries.

    From here, the plot was mostly about Elliot’s and Sully’s missions, how the war took its toll, and how the two men were reunited again. One of the more interesting threads is the German plot to deploy a nerve gas that turns people into zombies.

    I thought it would be more exciting if the story started with the MCs as established soldiers and focused more on the mission to stop the nerve gas. It would made the story more dynamic and action-oriented. But it’s understandable the book opened with the one night stand and went through the training to establish the connection between Elliot and Sully. Also, I think the consequences of their mission might be connected to the events in the sequel, which I am looking forward to.

    Imperfect Illusions is a story of love that endured nightmares, stigma and war. The pace is slow in the beginning, and the writing glosses over some details. Imperfect it may be, still, it’s an emotional book that grows on you, and you’ll find yourself rooting hard for Elliot and Sully!

    3.5 Stars – that place between like and love

    Soundtrack: Dream
    Artist: Boo Seeka
    Album: Between The Head & The Heart

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