Wednesday, November 17, 2021

WtAFW: Saving Askara by J.M. Link


So, this was recommended to me for my What the Actual Fuck Wednesday project where I read and review weird romance novels and erotica and then talk about them. I always post a review and sometimes I post a video on Instagram. Originally, I intended to do a video for this one but (baby) it's cold outside and I started reading this late and also... there's just not a lot to talk about this one. It's an alien romance and really not all that weird, apart from the fact that the aliens in question drink blood, eat grubs, and seem to resemble lizard rock demons with, like, sentient metal armor. Maybe it's weird I don't think that's weird.

Anyway, this is a first contact book and Tori, the heroine, is a doctor dammit, not a diplomat (as a Star Trek fan, I'm high key disappointed that no one made that joke). Which is why she's not all that happy to be roped into negotiations with the Demons. Her point of contact is the hero, Aderus. He and his people are fleeing an invading threat that basically threatens to decimate their world. All their females are captive and they need medical intervention and also military backup. And the humans want their fancy-pants technology because humans gonna hum.

The whole time I was reading this, I kept thinking about Regina Abel, who, apart from the X-rated Star Trek fanfiction I read on fanfic dot net (because Ao3 didn't exist yet), she was the author who kind of opened the gates to alien romance/erotica for me. I really like her heroes and I think that (most of the time) they have good chemistry with the heroines. I didn't really feel that here. Aderus was kind of a dick. He's mean to Tori and I wasn't all that happy that he basically slaps her with biotech without (1) asking for her consent or (2) telling her what it is beforehand. Courtship in their species also seems to be kind of rapey. There's sexual dimorphism and females are incredibly vicious and aggressive and males are basically subordinate, and I guess males are supposed to fight the females during to prove their worthiness to "breed". And it adds some weird undercurrents to their relationship that are mostly just glossed over, except for the hero basically thinking, "Hmm, it's hotter when the female is willing and this hits different!"


This wasn't a bad book but I wasn't really a fan of it. I thought the author was inventive in her world-building but it could have been explored better, and Tori didn't really have much personality. She kind of reminded me of those painfully naive heroines from 90s futuristic/paranormal romance, where even in more traditionally "masculine" job descriptions, they still have to remind you "oops, I'm just a woman, tee hee" every five seconds. Like, I never really got the impression that Tori was allowed to exist as a character with motivations that really went beyond how they intersected with the hero and his people. She felt both interchangeable and replaceable. I don't think I'll be continuing with the series.

2.5 out of 5 stars

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