One of my favorite discoveries is when I realize a romance author shows that her writing chops cross genres and Katee Robert has totally made my day with her release, Queen of Swords.
I adore good science fiction romance (Lauren Dane’s outstanding Federation Chronicles are the epitome of the subgenre to me) and, tipping the scale at over 350 pages, Robert’s latest work demonstrates that she can not only write fabulous contemporary romance (like her outstanding Come Undone series) but also can craft a science fiction world and multi-species characters that will make fans of galactic travel and interesting worlds sit up and take notice.
Ophelia Leoni lives in a dangerous world. Her home planet has slowly come under the influence of Sanctify, a people who worship the purity of the human race and who have an unfortunate manifest destiny problem. As they systematically takeover planet after planet, non-humans are eradicated, put to death in horrifying ways. While Ophelia’s father is a former Sanctify lieutenant, his allegiance to his old religion shifted decades ago to his beautiful Diviner wife and his Diviner daughter. Ophelia and her mother both possess not only the stunning lavender eyes of their race but the ability to hear the Lady’s voice and divine her will through Tarot card readings. When living in plain sight of Sanctify’s forces is combined with helping her father with his successful gunrunning business, things can get ugly.
Case in point, Ophelia’s recent loss of her ship and her crew who, when confronted with a looming Sanctify battleship, drugged her and shoved her on an escape pod rather than have her die at the enemy’s hands as a Diviner. Knowing that the Lady had warned her of this loss in the cards – a warning Ophelia ignored – has her guilt reaching heights that only alcohol and sex can dull. In her favorite bar, she’s well on her way to the drunk piece of her plan but when the sexy, grey-eyed stranger slides into her booth, Ophelia realizes that she’s about to realize her second goal. It’s not his hard body or face that makes her decide to bed him but the shared sense of loss she sees in his eyes. One insanely hot night she barely remembers and a quick retreat to home has Ophelia hoping that she can hold onto the freedom from guilt a little while longer, but that’s not in the cards.
Boone O’Kierna has battled his sadistic father and his psychopath brother for as long as he can remember. That they happen to be the ruling monarch and heir apparent of the desert planet of Hansarda just means that their reach to hurt others just extends that much farther. Boone and his impetuous sister Jenny managed to get a couple hundred of their people to safety and now they all work to undermine the Hansardian royal family. When Boone hears that his brother is brokering a deal to add a woman to his harem because of the gun-running contacts she can bring him, he tells himself he needs to go get a look at this dowry package. One glimpse of this tough-talking fighter with the haunted lavender eyes of a Diviner and Boone is lost against his better judgment.
That she doesn’t seem to remember his name or the night they spent together too clearly the next day hurts more than he thought, but it reminds him of the distance he must place between them. Luckily for him, he shows up on her family’s doorstep around the same time that she learns from her parents of the Prince’s request. While her father is happy to tell any royal to go to hell, her mother’s cards and Ophelia’s both tell the true story – that Ophelia must go on a journey that will end with her happily married to the Prince of Hansarda. Having had such a recent example of ignoring the Lady’s wishes, she reluctantly agrees to go with the Prince’s emissary, the same man whose name she doesn’t remember and in whose bed she awoke that morning.
What follows is a fabulous story filled with rich secondary characters (some of whom who are destined for their own books in the series) and a story of two people learning to dig past their emotional baggage and trust each other, particularly when certain life events give them a swift boot in the rear. Boone and Ophelia are extremely well-matched, sympathetic but tough characters who are equally willing to sacrifice themselves for the people they love. The prejudice and cruelty meted out by the Sanctify movement is both horrifying and a well-drawn vehicle for plot development and conflict. These are bad guys you are going to love to hate!
Happily there is already a prequel to the series, The High Priestess (all book names come from the Tarot deck the Diviners use to channel the Lady’s voice), which tells the story of Ophelia’s parents Gerard and Marianna. Since it’s hard to imagine a Sanctify lieutenant and a Diviner getting together, this one is on my buy list. I was pleased to see the second full-length novel in the series, the Queen of Wands, will not only be published at the end of June but will star Boone’s wild and dangerous sister, Jenny.
Katee Robert’s Sanctify series is a wonderful and much-needed quality addition to the world of science fiction romance. I look forward to being an avid pre-ordering fan of each book in the series!
Happy reading! 🙂