Ian Davidson is a Truebred, son of a general, and a soldier uncomfortably destined for an officer’s role in the military. Worse, he’s got a gift; he can read other’s thoughts and feel their emotions. His father has used him to get ahead in his own career despite the fact that Ian can’t quiet the voices in his own head. But when the Bond chooses Nathan as his mate, the pain ebbs and the voices cease. If only he could be sure bonding with Nate doesn’t mean he’s going to be controlled by a partner as much as he’s been controlled by his father, and his destiny.
Several months ago, Sergeant Nathan Williams lost his Bond partner in battle and along with it, his will to live. But a trip to the local recreation hub for black market supplies buys him more than he bargains for - a Bond with a new partner, Lieutenant Ian Davidson. There is something about Ian that forces Nathan to believe that the Bond between them could be stronger than his previous one. If only he can convince Ian to give in and give the Bond a chance.
When Nathan is captured on VN2, the worst post in existence, Ian is forced into new territory that he’s not familiar with - the leadership of a reluctant special forces team and his newly discovered feelings for Nathan. The struggle to accept the Bond spills into the battlefield, and Nathan is pushed to the brink with memories of his old Bond. It becomes sexual tension hell as event after event threaten to tear the couple a part when both want nothing more than to tear each other’s clothes off.
Originally read in June of 2012.
I wasn’t 100% sure how to feel about this book. I absolutely loved certain parts of it, and hated others.
To start with, I love sci-fi novels, and this one sounded particularly interesting. I was also excited about the length, since longer sci-fi novels usually have a lot of exposition and world building, which I love to read. And while both of those elements were present in this book, there wasn’t as much as I had been expecting when I saw the book length. However, I still enjoyed the world building that was present.
I also loved the beginning. I was drawn into the story, and presented with multiple POVs, which might irritate some people, but I think it worked very well in the story, as it gave you a way to get more information and exposition without a giant boring info dump. I also thought it was an interesting choice for the author to have a good part of the beginning after the opening told from other character’s POVs since one of the main characters was out of commission and the other wasn’t in much better shape. So we heard a lot of the beginning after the first two chapters entirely from the POV of secondary characters. Heck, there were times even when I wondered if the secondary characters should become the main characters, yet somehow, it worked for the story.
I also liked the action scenes and the characters. Most of the action was in the beginning and end of the book, and was very enjoyable. Plus, I absolutely loved Ian in the beginning. Even when he was hurting, he was still a strong character, and he didn’t just accept the Bond when he was told that he was Bonded to Nathan. While it seemed over the top and a little over repeated at times, I fully enjoyed his stubbornness and badassery. I also really liked Doc, as he provided a great voice of reason in the story, not only for the main characters, but for their entire unit.
As for the parts I hated, one was the lack of explanation. Terms like Truebred, Regulars, and Bonded were used, and while it was indirectly explained what they meant, there was no explanation as to why these terms were used. Plus, information about these ranks was also missing as well. For instance, can a Regular become a Truebred? Since Regulars are ordinary soldiers and Truebreds are officers, in the military, it is possible to rise through the ranks. However, this is never explained, it is just stated that Regulars apparently really hate Truebreds. Other information was hinted at, but never fully delved into. I would have loved to learn more about the world this story is set in, as we barely touched the surface of it. So much is hinted at and left unexplored that I would become frustrated at times when right as it seemed I was getting some exposition and backstory, the plot would jump to a different track and I would be left with questions. So I never became quite as invested in this world as I would have liked, which kept this from being a 5 star for me.
Another part I hated was Doc and Sean’s beginning. Basically, a major event in the story is the potential of a Forced Bonding. Basically the partner being refused gets so out of control due to the instantaneous Bond between the two that they force themselves on their partner, forcing the bond to form. So basically, it’s rape or at in Doc’s case, extremely dubious consent.
WARNING! MAJOR SPOILERS ARE IN THE NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO AVOID THE SPOILERS, SKIP THE NEXT TWO PARAGRAPHS.
Doc basically had a valid reason to fear his bonding since he met his mate after being held captive and raped for a long period of time. Yet within days of meeting, the Bond forces Sean to forcefully bond with Doc, who wants to bond with Sean, but can’t get over his fear because, oh yeah, he was held captive and raped!! So very dubious consent bordering on non-consent there. Oh yeah, and his fellow military men and commander? Did absolutely nothing to stop it from happening.
So, I get why the author had this as a character’s backstory, since the Forced Bonding was a major threat for the main characters to face. So it would make sense to have a personal experience account of a Forced Bonding. However, in this case, I had a major problem with what happened to Doc. Why couldn’t the partner being refused offer to bottom? Why did they have to top? In Doc’s case, I’m sure topping his partner would probably have been far less traumatic than bottoming, yet he was apparently forced to submit to someone who he would then fall in love with, mere days after being rescued from being held captive and raped. And again, no one around them tried to help, yet Doc was able to help prevent this from happening to the main characters? So Sean could have been stopped, but wasn’t, even when everyone around them knew it was going to happen.
Now, I don’t mind stories that contain non or dubious consent so long as they’re integral to the story and have a point. While I’m glad that the author faded to black rather than graphically depict the event, in this case, I think it was highly unnecessary. I’m not even sure why Forced Bonding was introduced to the story, when you could have picked another central threat for the couple to face that didn’t involve the resisting man getting raped by his bonded partner. This is a major part of the story, as over half of the story revolved around this aspect. It was such a huge part of the story, that over time it stopped seeming threatening and suspenseful and just became repetitious and annoying. Because of this, the story went from a 4 star read down to a 3 star read for me.
All in all, this was a hard story for me to review. While there were parts that I absolutely hated, I still enjoyed reading the book. The author shows a lot of promise, and I think the book could have definitely been a 5 star read for me. It also felt like book one of a series to me. There were hints dropped and while the book did have a happy ending, it also seemed open, like the author left information out to potentially create a sequel. I would like to see a sequel, especially since Forced Bonding (hopefully) wouldn’t play a role in the sequel. Therefore, we would get to learn more about the world these characters live in. I personally would love to see the Bonded fight for better treatment than they are get and for a chance to prove themselves in battle or such that would get them recognition and respect.
That being said, I’m not sure who to recommend this to. So, you’ll have to make your own decision on this one. I put a lot of detail into this review, especially on topics that could be absolute no-nos to others, as well as aspects that other readers might like in their sci-fi so that you can hopefully make an informed decision about whether or not this book is for you.