I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of this book from Lauren Dane. This is a sci-fi ménage suspensey type novel being released from Berkley Heat on 2 Dec. Lauren categorizes it as this on her website: Futuristic, Erotic Romance, Menage, BDSM.
Blurb (courtesy of laurendane.com): On the battleground or in the bedroom, one woman and two men fight for dominance in a bold, new, and excitingly different direction in erotica...
As a lieutenant of the Federation military, Sera Ayers is accustomed to giving orders, not taking them. Now she must obey the one man she can’t stand—and can’t stop thinking about.
With the enemy Imperialists gaining ground, a covert team is assembled by Ash Walker. Ten years before, Sera had lovingly submitted to Ash’s dominance in the bedroom. But when he was forced into a political marriage, she refused to play mistress. His marriage now over, Ash wants Sera on his team—and back in his bed.
The third team member, Brandt Pela, has an elegance to match Ash’s savage sexuality. And when their undercover plan requires Sera to pose as Brandt’s lover, it ignites a passion among the three of them more dangerous than their mission.
Parts of the book have almost the feel of a regency historical, in that the familial and societal hierarchies are such that the eldest sons must marry at a certain level ("rank"), and Sera was not "ranked", therefore she was considered unfit to marry Ash. He had an arranged marriage with Kira. Sound like a regency historical? Yet this is definitely sci-fi futuristic all the way.
Dane always writes compelling, emotional characters that I can relate to, no matter the setting; no matter the genre, from her contemporaries, to her werewolves, to, now, her futuristic soldiers. Sera's pain at being passed over by Ash for Kira is still raw, and all it takes is seeing him to bring it to the fore. Her refusal to be his mistress... her outrage is felt strongly. Dane writes her so compellingly that you can feel her agony. You can also feel Ash’s pain at having had to give Sera up, and how badly he wants her back.
At the same time, you can feel how much Brandt loves Sera, almost on sight, and wants her as well. There is a ton of ménage here, as well as some mild m/m. Sera is a sexual submissive, as much as she is a kickass soldier out of the bedroom, and must play the submissive in her undercover role as well – not an easy part for her.
Yet, where the book fell for me was in how easy it was for these two alphas (Ash moreso than Brandt) to share Sera so easily, and without even a flicker of jealousy ineither direction. In fact, Dane went out of her way in the dialogue and narrative to assure the reader (and Sera) that sharing was not a problem for them. I had a tough time with that one.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. Many of Dane's books take me out of my comfort zone, and she is one of the few authors I trust to do so. I go willingly with her. I know I will always get "human" characters; flawed, but endearing; straight-talking, but not unattractively so; and an involving story, with a defined beginning, middle, and end. I never feel cheated reading a Dane book. This one was definitely outside my comfort zone – not because of the ménage, the (very mild) BDSM, or even the (again, very mild) m/m, but for the setting itself. It's not my favorite setting at all, in fact one I rarely read, if ever. I like it even less than shifter books. But Dane’s strong characterization and gentle handling of the D/s relationships carried me through, and made it a thoroughly enjoyable journey.
Undercover releases on 2 December, and you can preorder it on Amazon here. It's currently 32% off, as of the writing of this post - $10.20, regular price is $15.00.