Settlers Carter Verdel and Brandon Hunt have created successful water-pod and island farms on Pagonna. The only thing missing from their lives is a woman. Able to afford only one concubine even when they pool their funds, they attend the annual auction, hoping to find someone to share their beds—and perhaps even their lives.
The men purchase Lyrianna, but can they overcome her resentment and win her love? And when the kingpin comes to Pagonna, seeking revenge against Lyrianna, can Carter and Brandon protect her?
Let me state, up front, that Sci-Fi is just not my usual segment of romance literature. I find that I get confused and lost in the complicated names, fictional planets, odd-ball solar systems, etc. that wonderfully creative authors manage to concoct. I just can't keep it all straight. "But what to my wandering eye should appear . . . " but a futuristic erotic romance novel that isn't cluttered up with all the aforementioned stuff. Book Four in the "Wicked Missions" series, Ms Raines has told a beautiful love story that is clearly a menage relationship but which isn't bogged down with contextual difficulties, at least for non-Sci-fi type readers like me.
My first thought while reading this book was that no matter how far into the future we project ourselves, we just can't seem to escape the bad guys. It would appear that Greed rears its ugly head no matter how advanced the technological world becomes and people like Lyrianna are there to try to reverse the damage these unscrupulous people do. For her trouble, she is arrested, accused of crimes she hasn't committed--admittedly she stole, but she stole from the thieves, but that doesn't seem to contribute to her innocence. Instead, she is not allowed to mount a defense, sent to a prison far out in space, knowing she will be truly old and truly gray when released, providing she even survives. Somehow, so kind of positive Fate intervenes and upon her arrival at the prison, she is shunted off instead to be auctioned off as a "concubine" for men who have come to Pagonna to make a living, but because of the very few women present on the planet, have gone without female companionship for a very long time.
We meet Carter and Brandon, two men who have settled in Pagonna as island and water-pod farmers, meeting their sexual needs as lovers, but both knowing that they need a woman to complete their "family." If no other way is open to them, they must buy a woman at the auction. They are so far from the city where the auction is held that it takes many hours to travel there. Pooling their funds, they are able to only buy one female, and it is during the auction that Lyrianna catches their eye, primarily because she comes across as a strong-minded, not-easily-tamed female, the kind of woman many men present had little interest in acquiring. Carter was intrigued. It would take a strong-minded, inventive person to survive in the isolation in which he and Brandon lived. And so, Lyrianna comes to live with them, resenting this turn of events in her life, and prepared to resent and make miserable the men who have bought her.
Perhaps the main reason this novel "clicked" with me is because it is more about the relationship than about the futuristic surroundings. Certainly the story would be significantly different if in another setting, but when all is said and done, it is the relationship between Carter, Lyrianna, and Brandon that make this story shine and which give it the drive that makes it compelling and one that holds the reader's interest. There is no doubt that these two men were prepared to woo her to their way of life, convince her to let go of her resentment of her situation, honor their agreements with her for the future, and enjoy her favors as long as they could. What none of the three planned on was how different, how expanded, how enriched their lives would be by this new family configuration. The innate goodness of these two men, their genuine care for each other and for Lyrianna effectively cut through her anger and resentment. Their willingness to make efforts to notify her family of her whereabouts was another factor in convincing her that they were good people.
Readers will find here a story that is truly a love story, and sci-fi fans will find satisfaction in the futuristic context. The bottom line is that this is an erotic story and won't bore anyone. It is full of hot loving, some action-packed scenes which could certainly become "nail-biters" for some, and a bit of mystery at how this will all work out for these three people. They are all three aware that their relationship initially has time limits. But can they pull off "forever" or is that what any of them want? This story is beautifully written, with characters that are clearly defined and strong enough to stand on their own, a heroine who knows how to kick butt with the best of them, and strong men who are willing pull up stakes, carve out a new life for themselves, and even risk bringing an unknown woman into their home--one who, as far as they knew, was a criminal. Gutsy to the max!! Readers will be hooked from page one, and I know I read it all in one sitting. So don't miss this one. The other stories in this series are equally fine. I give this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5.