Sunday, October 22, 2017

Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon

๐ŸŽƒ Read for the Unapologetic Romance Readers Halloween 2017 Reading Challenge for the category of: a romance about aliens ๐ŸŽƒ

I love my romance reading friends, but sometimes they lead me astray. Take my first foray into the Alexa Riley novels, which read like the manuscripts of a bad porno featuring a hero who wouldn't be out of place in an episode of Criminal Minds in which the cops discover a human breeding farm in his basement. Or, take the (thankfully) short-lived monsterotica trend, in which all the creepies from those pulpy 50s B-movies return in titles like The Blob That F*cked Everything or Swamp Monster Gang Bang.

When I saw ICE PLANET BARBARIANS showing up in my Goodreads feed, I was highly skeptical. It was being read by many of the same people who tried recommending Alexa Riley to me. I had horrific visions of probes, scary alien genitals, and bad dialogue being set to porn music with theramin solos (so, basically Broken Bells without the singing).

When this book showed up - for free - in the Kindle store, I decided why not? Apart from my time, that's as risk free as you can get with an ebook. I downloaded it immediately and forgot about it for several months until my romance group started its yearly Halloween challenge and I found myself looking at the "aliens" category and going, "Hmm..."

ICE PLANET BARBARIANS, despite that cover that seems determined to make you think that you are reading a terrible book, is... not a terrible book. In fact, it's a bit like diet R. Lee Smith - you have a heroine who is kidnapped by alien slave traders who are then forced to dump their cargo on an icy planet that is inhabited by hunky alien warriors. One of them, a chief named Vektal, happens upon Georgie while she's trying to get help or find food. She turns out to be his "resonance" or mate, the one who makes his khui all hot and bothered. Which means the sex is great (obviously - apparently ice planet barbarians are built like sex toys, with the downstairs equipment of a robust dildo, replete with vibrating) but the angst is high, because Georgie kind of wants to just go back home. To Earth.

Unlike R. Lee Smith, the world-building in this book is not so epic or complex. It's still creative, but it lacks that development, because the romance is at the forefront of this story whereas Smith is more about deep relationships that develop over the course of hundreds and hundreds of chapters in the style of the hefty epics from the 70s and 80s. The focus is on Georgie and Vektal's physical relationships, which then later graduates to insta-love. I rolled my eyes at that. This is that paranormal fated-to-be-mated BS, with interstellar packaging. YOU CAN'T FOOL ME, RUBY DIXON.

Despite my numerous reservations, though, I actually liked ICE PLANET BARBARIANS. I love the cheesy title. I thought the world building was cool (although I would have liked more development of the universe, as well as the other alien races, and though that the subplot with the slavers was tied off pretty hastily at the end). Georgie was a decent heroine. Vektal was actually kind of an adorable hero. I thought the secret behind the khui was interesting. I would read more in this series, for sure.

Thanks, Elena, for participating in this impromptu buddy read!

3 out of 5 stars

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