Title: Sūnder (Darksoul: Book One)
Author: Lexi Ander
Publisher: Self Published
Length: 320 Pages
Category: Sci-Fi, Mpreg
At a Glance: Perfect for those who like a bit of aliens in their romance.
Reviewed By: Ben
Blurb: If Sūnder Alārd had been born female he would have been cherished for being faeborn—born with magick—and his birth celebrated. Instead, his L’fÿn mother insisted on his death. Only his Panthrÿn father’s desperate escape through the forest saved him. With most Chándariāns uneasy in his presence due to rumors he is doomed to become a darksoul, and unlikely to find a mate because of it, Sunder has nevertheless carved out an honorable existence as a warrior and commander. Serving as bodyguard and chaperone for the Chándariān prince, Sūnder accompanies his charge to the annual mating festival on Earth, and when the prince is injured, he can’t help but be fascinated by the tongue-tied nurse who attends them at the hospital.
At sixteen years of age, Gabriel St. Baptista came home to discover his parents had taken off into space, leaving him behind to look after himself. Gabe never recovered from the unexpected desertion, and keeps everyone at arm’s length to avoid being abandoned again. However, after meeting Sūnder, Gabe finds himself unable to resist the bond between them and breaks all of his carefully crafted rules to spend time with the Chándariān, regardless of the fact that Sūnder will soon leave. Scared by what he feels for Sūnder, Gabe can only hope his heart won’t be too broken when Sūnder returns to Chándaria.
But deceit and treachery is all around them, and when Gabe saves Sūnder’s life, it sets off a chain of events that could either tear Gabe and Sūnder apart or give them both exactly what they want.
Review: I love how Lexi Ander uses aliens and alien cultures. She also weaves entertaining mpreg elements into past works I’ve enjoyed, and similar elements are present in this work. However, while Sūnder did offer me aliens, it struck me as more of a Paranormal Romance. The world is similar to our world, but with a few aliens roaming around instead of shifters. The Panthrÿns and L’fÿns acted like shifters—cat shifters, specifically—with their fur and tails and sometimes stripes, and there was definitely a heavy lean on romantic tropes, but the aliens didn’t turn into animals, Terran or otherwise.
Our protagonist, Gabe, is a nurse and a really good man, but was abandoned by his family at a young age. In the beginning chapters his boyfriend leaves him, stating Gabe doesn’t want the same things he does: a family. Gabe is admittedly commitment-shy because of his past trauma, but all that changes when he meets Sūnder, a magical Panthrÿn/L’fÿn hybrid, during the weeks of an alien matchmaking festival held on Earth.
While we do get Sūnder as a point-of-view character, his character evolution doesn’t seem to be nearly as emotional as Gabe’s. He was more resigned to thinking he’d never find love—because of being a hybrid and having dangerous magic—so most of the drama on his side is related to his parentage, which he’s been dealing with his entire life.
We also had two other POV characters, a friend of Gabe’s and another character who was a mercenary of some sort for one of the royal alien families. They become lovers. To be honest, I felt these characters were added as a segue into a potential spinoff, but I wasn’t invested in them. As it was, this work reads a bit like a fantasy epic: there were a lot of characters, a heavy dose of feudal politics, and it’s pretty lengthy.
I enjoyed the alien aspects to the sex in the book, specifically how Sūnder’s body looked and responded to sexual stimulus: he liked to be grabbed by the tail, he relished primal play, and he had an erogenous zone along his stripes which were actually cracks in his skin—pretty fascinating. There weren’t the usual alpha/omega roles you see in so many Paranormal Romances, and I was happy with that. The characters seemed to give and take equally.
And then there were the mpreg elements, which I definitely liked. I won’t go into the details—because spoilers—but I will say this isn’t a strict mpreg with all the mpreg bells and whistles. If mpreg isn’t your thing but you love Paranormal Romance, I’d still give this work a shot.
You can buy Sūnder here: