Affiliations, Aliens, and Other Profitable Pursuits by Lyn Gala
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Returning to the Rownt world is fabulous as readers enjoy the Grandmothers' "Lost in Translation" moments. Ondry and Liam are on the huge Rownt city spaceship, Calti. Ondry is eager to make it to the Tuk status because he needs it in order to gain an audience with the Imshee race. This alien race may be able to extend human life which Ondry desperately wants for his palteia, Liam. To make his goal, Ondry will accompany the Grandmothers of Calti to trade with humans. The Rownt are tentative around the humans based on their negative experiences. This mission serves many purposes which are shockingly revealed at the end.
I loved this story. Each new addition in this series is a lovely addition. I have yet to read one of the books without tearing up in emotion. Ms. Gala is gifted in presenting conflicting human conditions, emotions and irrationality. Learning more about the Rownt world also brings forth the oddities of human motivation. I love how these are explored and it enriches the book reading experience. This book must be read in the order written. This is not a standalone and reading it out of order will most likely not provide as much enjoyment.
Speaking of enjoyment, Ms. Gala cranks up the erotic sexual heat in this one. The physical affections and sexual interludes between Ondry and Liam are arousing and so good.
Ondry curled his tail around Liam's leg and then used his arm to pull Liam close to his chest. Following Liam's lead, Ondry parted his lips. Liam felt the tentative flicker of Ondry's tongue against Liam's lip. A little frisson traveled up Liam's spine, and while he was still lost in that feeling, Ondry slipped his slick tail inside Liam. Ondry had covert lube maneuvers down to an art. (kindle loc. 853-856)
This phrase both amused and sexually stimulated me. Covert lube maneuvers mixed with a tail is a fetish I am down with. This story is more than just heightened sex between the lovers. Unbeknownst to Ondry, Liam and the human representatives, the Rownt have grave reservations about them. Whilst Ondry, Liam and human military personnel worry humans will be categorized like the Anda, the Grandmothers have their own interpretation.
"That's why you're here?" General Dafaor asked. "And the trade agreements? Are they real?"
"They are," the Grandmother said, apparently unoffended although Ondry was offended for her. The Grandmothers would not lie about a trade. "We welcome trade with humans, but we did not know if your people were logical. If humans did not have enough thoughtful adults to care for the children and palteia, we were unsure how to handle the situation."
Liam went utterly still. "What possibilities did you consider?" he asked.
The Grandmother smiled at him. "All of them. We would not allow children and palteia to suffer." (Kindle loc. 1996)
Watching the humans and Rownt trying to understand each other is thought provoking. Both try to apply their own baseline of "good" to another. The different perspectives are fascinating because they are not wrong. The interpretations are accurate based on what a person values. The ability to see, understand and reconcile the differences is Liam's skill. I love it.
There is only one concept which I slightly disagree with. There is a point about Ututeh in the Rownt society. The term Liam translates them into is psychopath. The more accurate term for me is sociopath. I'm okay with sociopaths and so are the Rownts.
The most profound discussion that moved me to tears is when a military recruit, Mora, may join the Calti. Mora talks to Liam to make sure he knows what he is signing up for.
"So, they're homicidally protective and emotionally constipated?" Mora summarized.
"Homicidally protective and emotionally unresponsive to adults because adults should be able to take care of themselves, so to show interest in their problems is to insult them."
… Rownt do feel love the way couples might, but they can't have it. They are a world of Doms, and they aren't allowed to touch anyone. Touch is all about control. And then every once in a while a palteia comes along, and that's the one person they're ever allowed to love."
"Fuck," Mora whispered, his voice full of horror. (kindle loc. 2340-2347)
My thoughts exactly.
This m/m romance is highly recommended to kinky space opera lovers who enjoy deep profound thoughts.