“Thou art to me a delicious torment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I am of the opinion that loving to read is a combination of a variety of things, some of which is a healthy dose of anticipation and a probably more than healthy dose of expectation. Expectations are those nagging little impulses that make you read a blurb and then pick up the book. The consequences of those impulses, based upon the information you’re armed with, is that sometimes you don’t get exactly what you were expecting.
Whether that results in a good thing or a bad thing is up to the author and the reader. In the case of Sandstorm Heart, I’d have to say it’s not a bad thing at all, though it did leave me wanting.
Ron Vid is a Celian and a deserter to his race. Zoah Dem is a Haffa and a traitor; two men who, by virtue of their origins, are natural-born enemies. But, they’re also enemies who are now mercenaries for the same man, Ami, and it’s this association that pushes them together on a mission that goes south when they are betrayed by the one they were supposed to be working with rather than against.
Ron has been, and is, and seemingly forever shall be a prisoner to his lust for Zoah, but that doesn’t mean the two are on a fast track to a happy ending together. Ron, you see, is carrying around a burden of guilt that he’s sure will lead to his untimely demise if Zoah were to ever discover the truth of what Ron is hiding. Zoah is a fierce and deadly creature when the bloodlust strikes, a killer who revels in besting his prey, so Ron is in no hurry to act on his lust for fear of his identity being discovered and the bloodletting to begin.
Well, in this particular story, a little bloodletting is exactly how Ron and Zoah end up getting their kink on.
Liv Olteano’s version of Sci-Fi is much more erotica than it is Science Fiction, which is one of the ways in which my expectations were derailed. I was expecting and hoping for a bit more world and species building to really fire up my imagination but did get a lot of Ron and Zoah gettin’ their freak on, with some D/s, some blood play, and plenty of pounding going on, which is exactly what Ron wanted and needed, and exactly what Zoah was more than happy to deliver.
This is an enemies-to-lovers story, but is not in any way a love story, so don’t expect rainbows and unicorns and fairy tale romance. There’s lots of snarky dialogue volleyed back and forth, some teasing narrative to keep the reader wondering how the two men will finally move forward, and an “I hate you/I want you/I hate wanting you/I want to keep hating you and wanting you” vibe to this relationship that keeps the reader guessing, which makes for some tension before they get to the sex-is-the-answer-to-the-problem solution, which also made for some difficulty in connecting with the characters and becoming invested in their success. For me, this book was simply a breezy plot to get to the steamy parts, which isn’t bad but didn’t give me much to sink my mental chops into.
If erotica set in a a barren and oftentimes dangerous landscape is exactly what you’re looking for, all wrapped up in a story that flows pretty quickly and easily, start to finish, then give Sandstorm Heart a go.