Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Not of This World by Tracy St. John

He was her savior, but she was his salvation.

Jeannie Gardner escapes from her captors’ clutches only to find herself trapped on a planet far from Earth. When she is discovered by a muscle-bound warrior, she must prove to him, and the Council of Elders, that she is not a creature set free from a lab, but a sentient being from another planet.

If she succeeds, they will send her home. If she fails, she will be executed.

Risnar warrior Kren Bolep is duty bound to protect his village from the Monsuda and their creations. But this small pink-skinned female is different, special. As the bond between them grows, Jeannie’s vulnerability invokes Kren’s protective instincts, and he vows to uncover the truth and secure her future.

But there is a bigger threat looming. The Monsuda are coming to get Jeannie, and they’ll use whatever means necessary. When Jeannie is taken, Kren is forced to choose—disobey the Elders and place his people in danger, or lose the only person who makes him feel whole.

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Book 1
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Kren and other members of his enforcement team try to communicate with the strange creature they have captured.

She stretched her arms and wriggled her fingers. Then she looked Kren in the eye again and tapped her chest just above her breasts. “Jeannie. Jeannie.”

Kren considered. “Maybe she’s telling us what she is.”

His most junior officer, a young man named Pon, spluttered with disbelief. “Wait—you really think this thing has self-identity?”

“Let’s find out.” Kren sat her on a computer podium. Her feet swung three feet off the ground, and she gazed down at him, her expression expectant. He pointed to himself. “Risnarish. Risnarish.” He pointed to her. “Jeannie.”

She sighed with relief and nodded with enthusiasm. “Jeannie. Risnarish.” She pointed to herself and then him as she spoke the two words. Then she garbled something else and pointed to Arga.

He grinned to be included in the exchange and thumped his chest with a fingerless fist. “I am also Risnarish. Risnarish.”

That earned him a confused look from the Jeannie. She pointed at him and then Kren. “Risnarish? Risnarish?”

Nex had come close with a medical analyzer. He was authorized as a crisis medic, having been in the healing arts before switching to law enforcement. Sometimes Kren thought Nex regretted leaving his old vocation. Nex had a scientific bent and enjoyed dabbling in research projects.

Jeannie noted the olive-and-brown striped officer to her right and pointed to him while giving Kren a questioning look.

“Risnarish,” he confirmed. Maybe the differing coloration confused her. He motioned to all the men. “Risnarish.”

Two lines appeared between her brows as the Jeannie drew them together. Then all at once her expression cleared. She laughed a little, her head shaking.

The sound of her humor was throaty, a wonderful sound. Kren’s mouth dropped open with fresh shock as he exchanged a glance with Arga.

Nex nearly dropped the fragile tube that was the analyzer. He recovered and choked out, “It laughs. It’s made an expression of Spirit.”

Bort took a couple of steps back, his wide face comical with almost fear. “Not possible. It can’t have a soul… can it?”

Another officer named Chal gave him a crooked smile that was half disbelief, half delight. “You heard it, didn’t you?”

Kren said to Arga, “Monsudan creations do not laugh. This is not one of theirs.”

Arga gave him a warning shake of the head. “It’s not up to us to decide that.”

The Jeannie touched Kren’s arm to gain his attention. He looked into her face. “What is it?”

She pointed to him, to Arga, then Nex. She pointed at every man in the room. “Risnarish.” She pointed to herself. “Human. Human.” Again she pointed to him. “Risnarish.” Herself. “Human. Human.” She stared at him, as if willing him to read her mind.

Kren thought hard. First she had called herself a Jeannie. Now there was this new word, Hyoo-man. She had said it as if correlating it to Risnarish.

Arga rubbed the back of his neck. “This is getting us nowhere fast. We need to call the Elders Council.”

“Arga—” Kren started.

“You know we have no choice.”

He gritted his teeth. “Arga—”

“Arga?” The Jeannie gazed at Kren’s partner. “Arga? Risnarish.” She pointed to herself. “Jeannie. Human.”

Nex quivered with excitement. “Wait! Could she be saying she has an actual name?”

Pon looked affronted. “That’s something only sentient beings claim.”

“Why couldn’t she be sentient? Maybe her species is Hoomin like ours is Risnarish.” Nex stepped closer and jabbed his chest with a finger as she had done. “Nex. Nex.”

The Jeannie nodded her head, as excited as him. “Jeannie.” She pointed to him. “Nex.” The finger indicated Arga. “Arga.” Then she said something else that ended with “Jeannie.”

Kren’s partner’s jaw dropped. “She is named. It really could be.”

Bort shook his head, holding it between his hands as if to keep it from exploding. “Attaching a name to oneself can be another expression of Spirit. This is not possible.”

Over the excited chatter of the other officers, Nex grinned at him. “She laughed, though. She shows intelligence. I think we’re looking at a new form of sentience.”

Kren focused on the strange but lovely face in front of him. The implications of her existence were huge, certainly too much for him to grasp at the moment.

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Sadly, this book wasn't for me. I really liked the idea that this book was different in its concept to alien romance but that's where it ended. I found the book really slow paced. I enjoy books that grab me from the start and this didn't do that. There were far too many words that I couldn't pronounce, which killed the flow of the book. I had to sound out a lot of the words to try figure them out.

A lot of people will love this story, I sadly didn't. 🙁

As a huge fan of St. John’s Clans of Kalquor and Clan Beginnings series, I jumped at the chance to get my greedy little paws on an advanced review copy of Not of This World. The opportunity to dive into a new alien world created by St. John? Pfft! That was a no brainer. While I typically devour a Kalquor book in a day, I took my time reading the first book in the new Warriors of Risnar series, reading it a few chapters a day over the course of a week. As Risnar is a new world, I wanted to digest the world building that takes place as the series is set up. I wanted to learn about the Risnarish and the Monsudans, the two alien races that inhabit the planet Jeannie found herself on. I needed to know how the two alien races related to humans. Basically, I had to take my time to digest the differences between the Kalquorians (where my knowledge base was), the Risnarish, and the Monsudans, and how each group interacts with and views Humans.

The story is told from both Jeannie’s point of view and Kren’s. I enjoyed the dual points of view because it gave me a chance to see how both of the main characters felt about what was going on, which was especially important in the beginning when Kren and Arga discover and capture Jeannie. Because the Risnarish and Monsudans do not get along, the men were concerned that Jeannie was a creation of Monsudans, sent to harm them and their people. Jeannie was fortunate that Risnarish males are protective of their females and she drew that same instinct out in Kren. I loved the scene in the station when Kren, his men, and Jeannie first attempt to communicate. Nex’s excitement, the protective instinct of all of the men, and their wonderment at her laughter, her possession of a name, and the other traits that showed signs of sentience made for an entertaining and amusing first-contact scene. Not surprisingly, St. John includes the requisite xenophobe, who calls for Jeannie’s destruction immediately, not wanting to give a possible Monsudan creation time to wreak havoc on them and not caring that she might not be one. Be sure to pay attention to his reaction towards the end of the book when Kren’s people discover what the Monsudans have been doing to humans as it is the most telling.

I found the gender division among the Risnarish people fascinating. Although this isn’t the first sci-fi romance I’ve read in which the society is matriarchal, it’s not as slanted as others. By that I mean that while their head of state is female, the other members of the ruling council are an equal number of males and females. The women do not look down upon the men – something I tend to see in sci-fi matriarchal societies – rather, they see the men as equals who have strengths different than their own, and because of that, their sexes lead divided lives, coming together primarily for breeding purposes and for the men to fulfil their body’s need for sexual release. Except for perhaps the warriors, there appear to be no male-only or female-only jobs and the fields that are dominated by one sex or the other are that way because the career calls more to one sex than the other. Though I had to agree with Jeannie, the idea of living in the women’s temple left a lot to be desired because I think all that quiet serenity would have driven me nuts.

While there are references to religion, the religious fanaticism that drives human behavior in the Kalquor series is not present – at least not in this first installment. I got the impression that the Earth of this series is more similar to our Earth – inhabited by people with varying degrees of faith, but it isn’t the driving force of the government as seen in the Kalquor books.

I think the biggest difference that fans of the Kalquor series will notice is that Not of This World is not nearly as erotic. Don’t get me wrong, it has its steamy moments and there is a bit of a power exchange in the bedroom, but it doesn’t compare to the heat or level of BDSM that occurs in the Kalquor books. Personally, this wasn’t an issue for me because it wasn’t appropriate to the storyline in this installment as it is focused more on building the foundation for the series. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the level of heat rise in future installments.

Suffice it to say, there are HUGE differences between the series, so fans of the Kalquor series shouldn’t expect a retelling of those stories because just what is revealed in Not of This World suggests that while a war may be coming, the humans may have a very powerful ally – if they allow it. While St. John may know, only time and more books will tell. Fortunately for me, the second book in the series, Worlds Apart, is scheduled for release in May, so I won’t have to wait too long before I can return to Risnar.

Tracy St. John writes bestselling science fiction romances. She lives in Georgia with her husband and son, fending off mosquitos and running away from hurricanes. Before settling in to write fulltime, she worked in video production, both behind and in front of the camera. She was often cast as the gun-toting bad gal, getting handcuffed in the end. She hopes that hot alien cops will intercept those videos and investigate her nefarious schemes. Soon.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Not of This World (Warriors of Risnar #1) by Tracy St. John to read and review.

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