Rating: 4 stars out of 5
In his anger and obedience to fleet rules and regulations, fleet captain Gideon Arcturus makes a serious error in judgement regarding the Ankyros Ambassador and his lover. The repercussions from that disastrous event finds Gideon banished to Elora Ki, the compost heap of the galaxy. Disgraced and demoted, Gideon is now a subordinate to a man he viewed as an inferior and considered an embarrassment to his wealthy and influential father.
Gideon’s last romantic entanglement was a nasty set up by a rival officer that almost cost him everything. But during a visit to Voodoo, a seedy club in the first district on Elora Ki, Gideon watches a fire dancer on the stage and can’t get him out of his mind.
Tai is a fire dancer with his own secrets and disasterous past. Hiding out on Elora Ki seems like the answer to his problems, at least for now. His unique style of dancing keeps Tai from an even worst profession, that of a prostitute on a world that looks down on homosexuality. He sees what it has cost his friend and roommate and Tai swears that he will never be paid for sex. Then Tai spies a stiff, reserved freckled man standing at the bar watching him intently. It’s Gideon on enforced leave. Soon the sparks fly between them. Before long Tai and Gideon spend every night of his leave together, forming a bond neither wants to break.
But an illegal, addictive drug, Flare, is being distributed in and around the clubs and brothels.The trade in Flare on Elora Ki and off planet comes under the scruntity of Gideon and the fleet. Its a drug that almost cost Gideon his life and hurt his career. But it hits much closer to home as a drug lord focuses on Tai, threatening his safety and all associated with him. Its up to Gideon to save Tai, and destroy the drug ring…but what if Tai’s secret poses an even bigger threat to them all.
When it comes to science fiction, the genre almost always falls on either side of a technology line. On one side you have the tech-heavy, science centric fiction. It’s precise, science based, and speculative. On the other side there’s the fiction that goes off into space, riding an author’s wild imaginative path to intergalactic adventure outside the boundaries of known cosmology and spatial dynamics. It’s here that you might find goofy aliens, space outlaws, and heros of all shapes, sizes, and species. While I appreciate the first science fiction group of writers (think Arthur C. Clarke among others), its the wide open unknown spaces that grab my affection and most of my reading time. You have a multi-hued, three toed alien for no other reason than you wanted one? Cool. I get that. I want one too. And throw in the amorphous sparkly blob with the personality of Arthur Gottfried too while you are at it. Doubly cool. I appreciate one form but I love the other in much the same way someone might cooly admire a beautifully made model spacecraft but hug the furry spotted one eyed stuffed animal or someone who wants to phone home.
So it won’t surprise you that the Galactic Alliance series by K.C. Burn falls somewhat into the latter category and that I have become very fond of this series. It features a dead Earth with what’s left of its race scattered to the stars. Where of course, they encounter the Ankyros, a lavender alien species that must have three beings to reproduce and have a family unit. They evolved from a type of herbivore , a grazer with a hive racial organization and two distinct body types(not sexes). The Ankyros get even crazier in culture and physiological description but meeting them is one of the joys of this series. There was a war between the humans and the Ankyros, just recently over with all sorts of complications and reverberations for both. If you had to sit down and make sense of it all, than you won’t enjoy this book or series. But if you can just take it as is, then the entertainment and fun that K.C. Burns has in store for you has just begun.
The first story, Spice ‘n’ Solace (Galactic Alliance #1), introduces you to Jathan One-Moon, Galactic Alliance’s most important negotiator, and his lover, the brothel owner, Kaz. It is also our first introduction to that seediest of seedy outposts, Elora Ki. It has bars on it that make the one in the Star Wars Cantina look positively upscale. Book two, Alien ‘n’ Outlaw (Galactic Alliance #2), brings the Ankyros species into sharp relief with its center story of a romance between an elusive human thief Darien Lancaster and R’kos, son of the Ankylos Emperor. Until now, that has been my favorite. But with Voodoo ‘n’ Vice K.C. Burns deepens her plot with the misery that drug addiction brings along with a new race of aliens that has subjugated humans and manipulated their DNA.
Again its Burn’s characters that are easy to love. Tai, the fire dancer with a huge secret to hide and Gideon, the 30 year old repressed gay son of an influential military family with an austere, controlling patriarch at its head. Both are easy people to connect with and ultimately love. Gideon is the character that has the farthest to grow, from an upright, humorless Captain to someone capable of seeing the gray in a situation and being flexible enough to love and accept love, regardless of whether it comes from a human or alien source. His growth as a character is realistic as are his actions and fear of romantic entanglements. Burn’s is also setting up her next story in the series with Gideon’s replacement, Sven, and Tai’s roommate who undergoes a traumatic event. At least I am hoping to see each of them once more. They deserve a HEA too.
Seedy, disreputable and wild, Elora Ki is such a vibrant, alive location, just as important in this book as the people who inhabit it. A sort of wild frontier where almost anything goes and everyone who comes there has a story, I enjoy the new districts or levels that K.C. Burns invents for each couple and story. New “red light” districts, new nightclubs with owners both illegal and honorable. They are as much fun as the plots wrapped around them. There is also an ugliness and horror to its neighborhoods, it has its own tenements and squalor recognizable outside the realm of the safe and well off. It works well to balance off the glitzy clubs and bars where everyone works at some less than legal profession. It’s a stratified society where some of its most important citizens are also among its most mean and conniving. That works well too.
The romance here arrives quickly but I can forgive that as each man is so in need of each other. I love the tattoos that decorate Tai’s body and the fascinating history behind them provided by the author. I hope this is not the last we have heard of Tai’s planet and people. Again, there will be parts here that make little sense if you are looking for a scientific foundation upon which to lay Burn’s creations. Think more Marvel Comics than American Scientific journal, but its in her descriptions that these people, their histories and their love for each other comes alive. That makes the astounding beings, places, and events here jump with possibility and magic as well as an intergalactic love that feels not only reasonable but right.
I love this story and definitely recommend it to all who can suspend belief in the real and supposed futures set forth by science fiction authors and scientists alike. K.C. Burn gives us the human element and spirit alive and kicking in a galactic space not always open to humanity and the chaos we bring with us. I read the first two books out of order and it didn’t seem to make that much a difference after going back to Solace ‘n’ Spice. In fact I enjoyed getting to know the Ankyros people in Alien ‘n’ Outlaw first, and then pick up small pieces of intelligence about them in book one. You decide the order in which to read the first two stories, but Voodoo ‘n’ Vice should definitely be read third in order for all the events and people who pop up to make sense.
Cover art by an uncredited artist is perfect for the fire dancer Tai and Gideon.
Published May 26th 2014 by Carina Press (first published January 1st 2014)
seriesGalactic Alliance #3
Books in the Galactic Alliance series in the order they were written and should be read:
Spice ‘n’ Solace (Galactic Alliance #1)
Alien ‘n’ Outlaw (Galactic Alliance #2)
Voodoo ‘n’ Vice (Galactic Alliance #3)