STARKISSED
Lanette Curington

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Amber Quill, June 2003
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Leith McClure is not at all happy to find herself making an illegal business deal in a bar, on a planet not regulated by Galactic law. Her buyers, the Zi, are under embargo. But her father set up the deal, and told her to trust Steve Hancock, his protégé conducting the exchange. Steve just seems to be enjoying this deal a little too much.

The Zi representative, J’Qhir, is not at all what she would have expected. In fact, the more they are thrown together, the less Leith finds he meets her preconceptions. Dropped without warning into a do-or-die situation, Leith and J’Qhir make their cranky accommodations to each other and form a fundamental bond. It may be that they will yet be able to save J’Qhir’s people and Leith’s father’s business, but to do so they would probably, unbearably, have to sacrifice their union.

STARKISSED is primarily about overcoming cultural boundaries. More important than the physical differences between Leith and J’Qhir are the Zi expectation of submissive behavior from females and the rigid domination of Zi tradition over personal needs. J’Qhir seems to have little trouble adapting when Leith behaves according to the freedom of her culture, but he places his own duty above all else. Leith in turn comes to respect his way of living, and learns how much of the Galactic Alliance’s knowledge about Zi may be misleading.

To enjoy STARKISSED, you have to be willing to buy into the idea that there can be an immediate, intense sexual attraction between a mammalian humanoid and a reptilian humanoid, in spite of their different sexual characteristics. Too, the villain has a very strange definition of "revenge". It will be worth it for you to make those mental leaps, because the story is an absorbing one and the romance exciting. I have been especially careful writing this review because there are many surprises I don’t want to give away.

I reviewed two books about inter-species love in the same week. While both have interesting story lines, STARKISSED is unquestionably the better written. The settings in both are thoroughly thought out, but STARKISSED feels more alive and dimensioned, both in environment and character. This is something the author has done by instinct, seemingly from her sense of participation in the story. It has left me with some pleasantly unforgettable memory pictures. STARKISSED was an Eppie Award finalist.

June 2003 Review Originally Published by WOR

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