Title: Moro’s Price
Author: M. Crane Hana
Publisher: NineStar Press
Length: 367 Pages
At a Glance: I prefer more concise works, with fewer points of view. This was a sprawling science fiction epic that clumsily muddled through backstory, info dumps, and had too many characters.
Reviewed By: Ben
Blurb: Crown Prince, techno-geek, and secret sadomasochist Valier has lusted for years after the gorgeous gladiator called “The Diamond.” Meeting the escaped slave on a rooftop, Valier discovers Moro Dalgleish wants suicide before his former masters can reclaim him.
Infected with a deadly symbiont, Valier proposes empty sex to satisfy his urges and grant Moro’s release from a horrible life. Neither man plans for Moro to survive, or how the morning after will shake three empires to their foundations.
Review: I’ve had this book in my TBR pile for years, so imagine my surprise when it popped up as a new title on NineStar Press’s coming soon page!
We start out in the company of Mateo DaSilva, cousin to one of the fighters in the match he and his friend Valier Antonin ne’Cama have traveled a long way to see. Val is our point of view character, but I was more drawn to Mateo, who has a fatal infatuation with Val. I say fatal, because Val has a symbiote which ‘infects’ his body, making his bodily fluids lethal to anyone who comes in direct contact with them. Val’s family is wealthy beyond measure, but at the same time he and his species are treated as lepers because of this ‘ailment’, which gives Val a strange combination of innocence and commanding arrogance.
Through the back and forth between Mateo and Val, we find out Val has a damning secret. Even though his race is supposed to abhor violence, and he somehow convinces Mateo he feels the same, Val is actually helplessly attracted to sadism, and he lusts after Moro, The Diamond, one of the other fighters in the match. That’s a horrible thing to want, considering his species, and there are implications: part of Val’s desire may be linked to his species’ symbiote, which has a shared consciousness.
By these first few chapters, it’s clear there is an incredible breadth to the world, and we are painted a beautiful picture of the drama. The description was also intoxicating. I could feel the alien planet air on my skin and smell the stink of mixed alien races and the horrifying alcoholic concoctions they consumed, on their breath, as they watched the fighting match. I loved those details.
While it was clear early on something was going to happen with Val and Moro, I was a bit miffed to find Mateo stopped being a main character. There were a lot of people to keep track of, in general, and I questioned the presence of most of them throughout reading. Not only that, but the D/s relationship that was intensely hinted at in the blurb and in the beginning of the story, wasn’t really a thing. The sex didn’t reveal much of Val’s inner workings, and the way Moro and Val clicked romantically didn’t create meaning to their inner conflicts. I wondered many times if they were truly acting as themselves, or the author was trying too hard to lead them through the plot. All in all, it was disappointing.
Considering it’s been years since I vetted the title, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to discover my tastes have changed drastically. I’ll call out my own bias in that I don’t seek out slave fic anymore, especially not if it’s an erotica or romance title, and while only the preliminary plot of this novel deals with Moro being a slave, it was enough to put me off the story early on.
I also prefer more concise works, with fewer points of view. This was a sprawling science fiction epic that clumsily muddled through backstory, info dumps, and had too many characters. The story I fell in love with in the beginning was not the story I ended up with throughout.
If you like science fiction worlds pregnant with detail, you may want to consider this. Also, besides forced bonding, there’s a strong theme of insta-love, an unusual mix of non-romantic and romantic elements many may find attractive. I wouldn’t call this a BDSM story, so I’d caution anyone who was looking for those elements in this work.
You can buy Moro’s Price here: