Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Awakening the Warriors by S. E. Gilchrist

The Basics:
Awakening the Warriors by S. E. Gilchrist
Escape Publishing (Harlequin Enterprises Australia)
Erotica, Science Fiction
Published May 1, 2013

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Fran must have been crazy to leave her ordinary (and safe) life and volunteer as a colonist to terra‐form a new earth. Now she is trapped in a prison cell on an alien planet a zillion miles from home and bound for a hideous death in notorious research chambers.
She has one chance of escape. Awaken the long dormant sexual urges of the Darkon Warriors shackled in the next cell.
A desperate job, but someone has to do it.

Why I picked it up:

I picked this up on the strength of the blurb alone. I liked the idea of this prisoner needing to awaken the desires of multiple men also held as prisoners.

What worked for me:

Awakening the Warriors has a lot of potential.

There's a rich universe to learn about - Gilchrist has published previous works set in it, and it looks like she has another coming out in February 2014. There's enough detail about it in this novella to make me curious, but not so much that I feel like I could really strongly describe what makes it tick.

I liked Fran, and I liked that she knew that a fair amount of the pull she felt for the two warriors was related to biology rather than simple lust or some sudden onset of love. I wanted to know more about her, and how she and the Darkon warriors related to each other. The warriors themselves felt less detailed but were still intriguing enough that I want more of them.

The escape was well-written - Gilchrist is clearly comfortable writing action scenes. I could easily picture what was happening and was rooting for *everyone* to make it out alive.

What didn't work for me:

There's too much happening in this novella for me to really sink my teeth into anything - and boy did I want to do that to those Darkon guys. They sound quite lovely, but I didn't feel like the erotica got enough screen time. For one, it takes no effort on Fran's part to awaken the Warriors: being present is apparently enough to turn the guys on, despite their wounds. Then there's a whole escape and travel time afterwards that's virtually void of anything steamy. Which on the one hand is fair enough - these characters have other things on their mind. But on the other hand, when they do come back together, it's pretty jarring.

I think I would have been happier if the erotica had been a little dirtier, grimier to fit the setting, and if there was only the barest implication of an emotional bond - perhaps one entirely based on having saved each other's skins, or one set off by the aforementioned biology. This easily could have been/could be the novella prologue to a more science fiction-based story featuring the same three characters with a menage flair.

Bottom line:
This erotic novella is muddled by having to do too much with too few words. There's a lot of universe lore to fit in so that we have a frame of reference, there's an escape plot, there's what seems like set-up for another novella or novel in this universe, and there's the erotica itself.

I think it would have benefited from another 25 pages or dropping one of those elements. Didn't love it, but there's so much here that I *want* to love, I'll look for Gilchrist's other work.

3 stars
For fans of science fiction erotica, S.E. Gilchrist

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