And everything was spiders. But-- surprisingly-- I did not scream or pull my hair out or run away or anything else I thought I might do. In fact... I was slowly drawn into this spider romance the same way I was drawn into Regina Abel's snake, bird, and lizard romances. Because the "spider" in this book is really more of a spider/centaur/man hybrid (at one point, the heroine refers to him as an "arachnotaur") and yes, he has a dick. But it's a retractable dick that comes out of a slit. Whoopee.
Lest you think that this is purely porn, it is not. In fact, it features one of the best developed worlds I've seen in a science fiction alien romance. The hero is a spider man creature who is part of this spider colony. Their species is actually called the "vrix" but you know, spiders. Anyway, the females are bigger and more powerful and the queen is the most powerful of all and she wants to mate with our hero, whose name is Kehtan, and she is willing to beat, bully, and blackmail him into it, whether he wants it or not (not).
The heroine, Ivy, was a colonist who was meant to go to another planet but crash-landed on this one. Her backstory is incredibly sad and actually tugged at my heart. You can tell why she was so desperate to get away and why she was willing to leave behind everything. Kehtan accidentally awakens her from her cryosleep and she (understandably) freaks out, but once she realizes he doesn't intend on eating her, they gradually reach an understanding and even start to communicate and, gasp, like each other.
So some thoughts about the book. I thought it took a LONG time to get moving and sometimes it could be really slow-paced and dense. There's a lot to cut your teeth on in this book and even though I really appreciate all the details and how much thought went into them, it affected the pacing at times. I loved the language, though, and how Ivy and Kehtan gradually start to communicate. It was done so well, and so realistically, and I was really impressed. I also really liked the heroine. I felt like people were really hard on her. I mean, you find out that everyone you know and love is probably dead AND you're face to face with a spider man AND all you have to eat is weird food and grubs that you have no idea will make you sick AND you have no clothes and no supplies AND you have to learn a new language AND you're traumatized by past shit AND also all of your friends and loved ones are dead?? Like, yeah, she whined and cried and complained-- BUT SO WOULD I. So would anyone, honestly. Really, people are so hard on heroines, am I right? If anything warrants emotional breakdown, it is this exact situation.
The romance was also really well done and kind of slow-burn (not super slow but it's not insta-love either). Kehtan kind of goes from thinking of her as a sort of pet to feeling something more for her once he realizes how sentient she is, which-- again-- makes sense. The erotic scenes were also-- decent? I found it interesting that these spider people have rope bondage as part of their mating ritual. Weirdly, it makes sense and weirdly, it was sort of hot. Until I remembered he was a spider and not just a dude who had as many arms as he has six pack muscles and then I may have freaked out a little. YAAAAAH.
Overall, this was really good. Much better than I was expecting it to be, and the cover is a really fun homage to the clinch covers of bodice-rippers of yore. I was kind of torn between a three and a four and ultimately I'm rounding down to a three just because it didn't quite hit the mark for me but it is a very high three and I'm totally reading the sequel. My God, I can't believe this author made me like spiders.
3 to 3.5 out of 5 stars