Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Renegade Love by Ann Aguirre
Narrator: Scarlett Dorian
Series: Galactic Love #3
Published by Tantor Audio on December 27, 2022
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
Length: 7 minutes, 58 hours
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He’s relentless. He’s aggressive. His armor is scarred to hell.
Toth Krag is infamous among bounty hunters. Nobody has ever seen his face and lived to tell the tale. He doesn’t fail. He doesn’t quit. And he doesn’t take prisoners. But maybe he’s getting soft. For once, he showed mercy, and no good deed goes unpunished, so now he’s tracking the deadbeats who run Volant’s Fabulous Spectacle.
She’s casual. She’s spontaneous. She never liked Earth that much anyway.
Yara Duncan is always at the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s how she wound up as the human attraction in a space circus. Frankly, it’s the best gig she’s ever had. Aliens pay to watch her eat and do puzzles, and she gets to see the galaxy free of charge. She’s enjoying the adventure, until the scariest hunter in the universe shows up. For some reason, he thinks she’s in charge, and he’s determined to drag her back to face his employers.
A few years ago, I attended a book signing to meet Ann Aguirre. She’d recently wrapped up her Sirantha Jaxseries and was on a book tour in the US. I asked her if there had ever been a chance her human and alien heroes would end up together. She replied I’d have to write my own fic to make that happen. Fast forward to 2020, and Ms. Aguirre releases the first book in her Galactic Love series, and I finally get the Alien/Human romance I dreamed about. Renegade Love, the 3rd installment in the Galactic Love series, is another Alien/Human romance starring the infamous Toth Krag, aka Oren, and the amazing Yara Duncan.
Doing puzzles and eating in public is Yara Duncan’s job, and she’s pretty happy to have it. Unlike the typical alien romance novels out there, Yara has embraced her abduction status and is taking full advantage of being a human novelty. She’s adventurous, brave, and smart and always seems to regard the glass as half-full. So when she faces imprisonment and imminent torture at the hands of the notorious bounty hunter, she hatches a plan that will save her life. Of course, half the battle is convincing the ultra-scary Toth Krag that it is in his best interest to help her out.
Oren believes he is doing what he has to in order to survive. He starts the book in a resigned, detached state, where he doesn’t even think about the people he is hunting down, killing, or turning over to be killed. When Yara enters his life, I can almost see the confused look on his face (even though his face is hidden by his helmet most of the time). He doesn’t want to see her as anything other than a job, but there are some ‘tiny nightmares’ that can’t be contained. Before long, he’s assembling a team of misfits and attempting to pull off the heist of his life.
I enjoyed watching Yara and Oren try to figure each other out, navigate each others’ differences, and eventually fall in love. Oren’s lonely existence has left him starved for true connection. Yara’s personality allows him to open up and be vulnerable in a way that was not expected. While there are some deep undercurrents, this book is more fun than serious. There are plenty of funny moments, mostly as a result of the universal translator.
I wish Renegade Love had been a little longer, because I felt like the main characters’ relationship should have taken a lot more time to develop. It felt rushed and for this reason I enjoyed it less than the first two books in the series. I also think Yara’s mother added a layer of complication that was perhaps just a little too implausible and detracted from the story’s main plot.
Ann Aguirre is one of the best character writers out there. She does such a great job with them that often the background just disappears. In Renegade Love (as well as the other books in this series) she does more than write a steamy alien romance. Instead, she tackles the differences in species and gender and how the characters respond and grow in a world that is anything but binary. It makes one think of better ways to navigate similar issues in our own, single species world.
I think this is the first story I’ve listened to that has been narrated by Scarlett Dorian. I really enjoyed her performance and think she did a great job on the multiple characters. She speaks quite clearly without being robotic. I listened at 1.25x speed.
Listen to a clip: HERE
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