Slaves of an Alien Game: Book 1 by Nina Schluntz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Surprising M/M sci-fi romance building up to an arena-style battle royale!
Caden Francis was working his late-night shift at the diner in the truck stop when a handsome stranger asked for his help to look for something on the roof of the building: a scavenger hunt, he said. But when Caden picked up the small black orb, he suddenly became part of a deadly alien game.
Partnered with the sexy Raghib against a seriously focused opponent, the two men faced a life-or-death, winner-takes-all struggle on a distant planet. But the real danger for the two may be falling in love.
Slaves of an Alien Game: Book One is the debut novel in author Nina R. Schluntz’s new science fiction romance series of the same title. The story hits the ground running and never lets up, even as the two main protagonists navigate unfamiliar feelings for each other.
Caden is fun, engaging, and unsure of himself, especially in the romance department, as he’s always thought of himself as strictly heterosexual. However, he’s kept the one girl he’s had any kind of meaningful relationship with at arm’s length for years. It seems everyone had assumed Caden was gay all his life, including the aforementioned girlfriend! Early on in the book, when he and Raghib are discovered to have spent the night together, Caden’s mother is hilariously giddy that her son has brought home such a desirable catch. I loved that she invited the whole family over to wish them well on their upcoming trip together.
Raghib is the alien partner, born into slavery on his home planet, and a more serious character. He has trouble pinning down his feelings for Caden and vacillates between overt desire and adopted indifference; he doesn’t want to get hurt when Caden returns to Earth after they are victorious in battle.
The author builds a fascinating and vivid world as the setting leading up to the Battle of a Thousand Deaths. My favorite aspect, though, has to be the lizard-like creatures called sahalias which are bonded to Caden as the finder of the black orbs. I couldn’t help but picture Great Dane-sized, velociraptor-type animals.
The plot maintains a fast pace with preparations for the battle, Caden and Raghib getting to know each other, dealing with their differences, and inevitably falling in love. There are explicit sex scenes, most of which are intimate and tender, but a few are performed to repay a debt or requirement of another. Early encounters are enhanced by the exotic nature of the alien connection between the two men: they are bonded in a consensual owner-slave alliance, and there are some rules which structure and guide that particular relationship that end up having some surprising ramifications for both. Finally, with all the preparations and events Caden and Raghib must attend before the actual arena match, I was glad that the battle was presented the way it was: non-stop action, and it was over. I had become quite attached to Caden, Raghib, and the sahalias and was dreading the fight and the awful possibilities it posed.
With its engaging boy-next-door main character and imaginative plot, I recommend SLAVES OF AN ALIEN GAME to readers who would enjoy a M/M SciFi romance with non-stop action and adventure.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tours.