What To Do With Lore by Jade Archer
Available from Total-E-Bound Publishing
Rhyn lives a mostly solitary life and that suits him perfectly. His job as a security contractor, protecting intergalactic trade from pirates, makes him a comfortable living and lets him spend most of his time in space, where he doesn't have to put up with the annoying habits of other people. When a jowly, blue-faced alien merchant orders Rhyn to recover valuable stolen cargo, Rhyn figures he's looking for precious metals or something similar. He doesn't expect to encounter a slender, flame-haired young man destined to be a pleasure slave for some rich diplomat halfway across the galaxy.
Lore, the slave, has indentured himself in order to learn valuable skills that will help him improve the lot of his clan. The unscrupulous merchant has violated Lore's contract in sending the youth off world. When Rhyn rescues him from the pirates, Lore believes that the massive, ebony-skinned ship captain is a representative of the law, not the renegade mercenary he is in truth and that Rhyn will help Lore plead his case to the authorities.
The two men could hardly be more different, but they are drawn to each other like moths to a flame. Curmudgeonly Rhyn finds that he enjoys not only Lore's body but his company. Lore lowers the barriers he has built in his years of being oppressed and allows himself to feel protected and cherished. Then Rhyn's true identity is revealed, and Lore flees, apparently betrayed by the first man he has loved.
What To Do With Lore is well-written and engaging. Ms. Archer uses artful detail to paint vivid pictures, not only of the two heros and their environment, but of the minor characters (the merchant and the pirates) as well. Both Rhyn and Lore are distinctive and remarkably well-rounded for such a short tale. Their suspicions and doubts feel as real as their mutual attraction, and their sexual connection is incendiary.
My main complaint about this book, in common with most short erotic romance that I read, is simply that it moves too fast. The characters and the world that Ms. Archer has built, with its multiple races, classes and cultures, deserve more than a mere fifty seven pages. Rhyn and Lore need more time to fall in love. The speed with which they connect strains plausibility (even in a science fiction story) - especially since Lore is a virgin.
I want to know why Rhyn left his career as a lawman to become a borderline outlaw. I want to read about Lore's clan, their hard lives and their family loyalty. Why is Rhyn so anti-social? How did the physically irresistible Lore escape being raped during his servitude? I gather that this book is the first in a series called "Contact", but I'm not sure that this will satisfy my curiosity, unless Ms. Archer intends to provide a lot of back story.
However, if you're the sort who likes to cut to the romance at a break-neck pace, and you're a fan of M/M romance, I heartily recommend What To Do With Lore.