In a universe torn apart by civil war, a warrior and a slave must fight for their freedom, for their lives, and for a love that may destroy them both…
After five years behind enemy lines, Captain Cyani is ready to retire to her homeworld of Azra as one of the Elite — the celibate warrior sisterhood that rules the planet. But first she must complete one final mission to rescue her fellow Union soldiers. The last thing she expects to find is a prisoner, chained and beaten — but radiating feral power and an unbroken spirit…
Soren is a Byralen, an enigmatic people who possess a unique hormone that they use to bond with their mates — and that is sold as a sexual narcotic in the shadow trade. For years, he has endured torture at the hands of his captors as they leeched his very essence. The last thing he expects is to be freed from slavery by a beautiful warrior woman with radiant blue eyes.
Driven by her rigid sense of honor, Cyani frees Soren even though her life hinges upon the success of her mission. But after so many years in bondage, his hormones are so unbalanced that he will die if he does not bond with a woman. Can the lovely but distant warrior be the woman he needs to survive, or will the forbidden bond destroy them?
Genre: Futuristic Romance - This is the publisher's label, however, I thought that the novel could have easily been classified as fantasy. While Earth and Her inhabitants are mentioned, the entire novel takes place on other planets making me feel it was more fantasy than futuristic. Plus, there really is only one character, who has a very brief appearance, that is human so again my opinion is fantasy but hey, I'm not the one in charge.
Cover Thoughts: I'm likin' the cover. The stripes along the cover model's back is portrayed exactly as the hero is described as having in the novel. However, the model's face is a bit boyish when compared to my mental picture of the hero but still nice to look at. In fact, Barbara and I are feuding over who we think this guy's celebrity twin is. I'm going for Matt Damon while Barbara thinks he looks like Leonardo DiCaprio.
Single Title/Series: BEYOND THE RAIN is a single title novel but there will be a follow-up novel featuring the heroine's brother.
Why I Read It: I can't remember what initially stirred my interest with BEYOND THE RAIN but I do recall that once I read the blurb and excerpt I was sold. "Soren is a Byralen, an enigmatic people who possess a unique hormone that they use to bond with their mates — and that is sold as a sexual narcotic in the shadow trade" - I mean come on, what's not to like about that??
After completeing and reviewing the dark and controversal - A MERMAID'S RANSOM, BEYOND THE RAIN was like a burst of crisp and refreshing air. The stark contrast between Dante and Soren, the hero of BTR, is shocking and I nearly forgot what makes a hero heroic.
For an indeterminate amount of years, Soren has suffered brutal enslavement at the hands of his captors, the barbaric Garulen. What was once a pure and life-giving biological trait of his people now has been tarnished and sullied into the conduit for a sickening drug trade. When he's rescued by the beautiful Azra warrior, Cyani, and her fox-like scout, Soren swears that he'll do everything in his power to keep his drug induced body from harming her despite the fact that her lushness has his hormones screaming for release. But when rescuing him prevents them both from making it to the transport ship and home, Soren and Cyani must find another way to escape the retched asteroid of Soren's enslavement. Death would be a salvation compared to the torture that most certainly will be inflicted upon a celibate Azralen warrior and a sexual narcotic producing Bryalen if caught since both are priceless on the human trafficking market.
After leading a lonely existence where touch, friendship and family are forbidden, Cyani's only friend has been her scout, Vicca. For five years she's been fighting for the Union and she's tired, tired of seeing death and bringing death. Freeing the prisoners from the Garulen is Cyani's last mission and she's more than ready to leave the world of war but she also despairs of the world that awaits her. Years of endless isolation, white marble and the cunning silence of the sisterhood on Azra will soon be home. But however desolate the future may seem, she must return for the Grand Sister promised that her twin brother, Cyn, would be raised above from the darkness below the canopy of Azra and killed if she doesn't. For her brother, Cyani will do whatever it takes to save him even if it means sacrificing her own life's happiness.
After releasing Soren from his painful bonds, Cyani is wary and very much on her guard. Next to nothing is known about the Byralen other than that their hormones produce a highly prized sexual narcotic and that their eyes can hypnotize. The males of their species are also highly aggressive when cornered and with Soren having recently been released from his torturous prison; Cyani is a little more than scared for her life in the face of his understandable rage. Unfortunately it will soon be Cyani's heart that she's in the most danger of losing.
In the midst of life-or-death circumstances, Soren is touching Cyani as no other being has ever done before. Learning painfully what it takes to be one of the Elite on Azra, Cyani recalls with brutal clarity that she must shun all touch, emotion and claim but no matter how often she voices her discomfort with Soren's closeness, he has an incredibly easy way of reaching out and charming her. It's not long before Soren wiggles his way quickly through to Cyani's shielded heart but she still manages to put up a stubborn fight much to Soren's chagrin.
Having lost so many years of his life, Soren knows that his chances of attracting a mate on his own planet are next to nil. Byra males create beautiful and elaborate gardens to catch a mate after years of cultivating their land both physically and magically. However, by this time, Soren's own land would be overrun by weeds and desolation. But beyond that, Soren also needs a mate fast in order to stop the deterioration of his body from the withdrawals of the hormone simulator that the Garulen pumped into him to extract the sexual narcotic. For years the Garulen have tricked his body into believing it was mated and now without the drugs, Soren can feel himself growing weaker by the hour. He sees his one chance at a peaceful life with a mate through Cyani. He knows that her tough warrior exterior shields a ripe heart that's practically bursting to love someone and it takes little for Soren to plan a seduction of his beautiful Union Captain for in the end, he has absolutely nothing to lose.
BEYOND THE RAIN is action-packed fun with a love story that is very much the core of this futuristic thrill ride. I specifically enjoyed the fact the fantasy elements weren't jarring but instead retained an easy and understandable flow, helping me as a reader to connect with the characters and their plight. However, I did feel that there were some elements in the story that left me with questions especially with regards to the character's appearance.
Cyani's colored hair, flowery tattoos and bluish skin were never explained nor were Soren's black stripes on his back. I suppose that the reader is just meant to accept these traits as their own specific planetary and civilization characteristics but I was still curious for something more definite. In addition, the Union and its mission nor why Cyani was fighting with them was ever explained. While the worldbuilding is subtle and gradual, allowing the author to focus more on the love between Soren and Cyani, I think this method might have allowed some gaps in the delivery of necessary information.
Soren was an amazing and patient hero. Both he and Cyani are incredibly self-sacrificing individuals and that's truly where their core dilemma arises. Soren is unwilling to tie Cyani to him as his mate without giving her a choice that could possibly mean his death. Conversely, Cyani is fighting for the life of her brother and the safety of her family by condemning herself willingly to a life of isolation and loneliness. Both must survive somehow while protecting the life of another.
I was a little disappointed that BTR wasn't as erotic as I was hoping for. It's possible that I'm becoming horribly desensitized but I was looking forward to some hot Bryalen lovin' from Soren and while there are moments that he delivers my reader demand, I just wanted something more explicit. Alright! So I'm a total hussy whore but what can I say? I wanted more.
BEYOND THE SHADOWS by Jess Granger
Releases May 4, 2010
A man of deception. A woman of justice. Can their fragile trust be strong enough to prevent a war?
Commander Yara knows perfect leadership requires perfect control and discipline. She has spent years living without the distraction of caring for anything—or anyone. It’s a sacrifice she’s willing to make. Yara has honed herself into the perfect heir to the Azralen throne, but a bloody coup could destroy everything she’s worked so hard for. She must return home to prevent war. Unfortunately the only ship available belongs to an Earthlen trader with no regard for authority—especially hers.
Cyn is a rebel, driven to protect those suffering at the hands of the Elite leaders of Azra. Using his alias to manipulate the lovely but icy commander onto his ship, he has to keep her from Azra long enough to ignite the revolution. But when he awakens a vibrant and feeling woman beneath that icy exterior, he gets more than he bargained for—love. He must find a way to convince Yara to join him, before they get caught in a web of deception that could tear their world apart.
Read an Excerpt HERE!