Beyond the Red
Sky Pony Press, March 2016
This one starts with a bang as Eros is captured by boys from his camp along with his nephew. They’re to be sold to Seraphon soldiers as slaves, but his brother Day follows and rescues them. When they return to their nomadic camp in the desert, it has been attacked by other Seraphon soldiers and nearly decimated. Day is killed, while Eros is taken prisoner again.
He has two strikes against him when taken to the city ruled by alien queen Kora. He’s an enemy, but more important, he’s a half breed, the child of an unsanctioned liaison between a human and a Seraphon. They are to be killed at birth, but somehow, his mother chose not to and made a deal with Day’s parents to raise him.
Kora has her own problems. Her twin brother, born right after her, is hot tempered and believes he should be the ruler. She’s not fully recovered from the horrific events during her ascension to the throne when her parents were killed and her arm permanently scarred. In the meantime, her city has begun to crumble, citizens are unhappy and she needs to shore things up by finding a suitable husband.
Eros becomes her bodyguard even though he knows it was her decision to attack his people. Despite that, he can’t help feeling a growing attraction to her, particularly when she convinces him that she needs him to sleep with her (no hanky panky involved) because her night terrors are so powerful she barely gets any rest. It’s not long before he’s dealing with a constant mental battle between his attraction, her being a ruler and his bitter awareness that no matter what, he’s a half-breed and should not be alive.
Even after she finds a suitor, things don’t get any more stable. She’s set up by her brother and with Eros’ help, escapes to the desert. What happens to Eros, to Kora and how they deal with the threats against her, as well as the surprise regarding Eros’ birth make for a compelling read. Fans of YA science fiction will like this one a lot.
Reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS, May 2016.