Author: J.R. Gray
Genre: Science fiction romance
Release date: 30 August, 2016
Main characters: Jocelynn (heroine and member of the elite) Madden (hero from a much lower order and the planet Harden)
Blurb: Love is for peasants; nobles marry for power. These are the rules Jocelynn has lived by. She is expected to be the poised and perfect vision of relentless power. Set to inherit the House of Akillie, she was bred to rule, and no man has ever turned her head—until now.
Madden achieved the impossible, the first in over a century to escape the life of hard labor and earn a place among the elite. With the chance for a fresh start, he has to stay focused, not damn himself by falling for the one girl forbidden to him.
Madden was Jocelynn’s experiment in freedom, and she didn’t mean to fall. But now she can’t live without him. He’s worth running from everything she’s ever known.
With no other options, Jocelynn turns to a formidable group of rebels to escape her fate. But with a war to be won, the rebels have their own agenda. Drowning in a game of power and politics, Madden and Jocelynn can’t trust anyone if they want to make it out alive…
Why you should read it: This is quite a departure from J.R. Gray’s earlier work. It’s quite a big leap into not only another genre, but setting the action on another planet is a completely different offering to what is currently out there. The characters of Madden and Jocelynn can be summed up as star-crossed lovers. They’re never meant to be together – it goes against the established order of their society and the rules governing the neighbouring planets. Despite the weight of the impossible situation, the pair are drawn to each other and cannot bear the thought of life without the other. Their love for each other was fervent and palpable and came across loud and clear in the narrative.
“I love you. Across a million miles, and thousands of worlds, I will never feel like this again.”
“And I love you, like I have never loved anyone before. I can’t lose you.” Hearing her say those words filled me with hope. It was nourishment for my soul. It gave me hope, and hope was all we had.
What I struggled with: I’m really not a fan of sci-fi to be honest. I prefer stories set in this realm, so for me, it took a while to get into the mindset of this dystopian universe and to just go with it. That said, I can’t fault the story or the narrative – the planets were well described. I could smell and almost taste the grit and dust of Madden’s home planet. My main problem was the back and forth between Madden and Jocelynn at times. Their love for each other switched to mutual distrust and then back again. It was very angsty and I wanted to shout at them to get their heads out of their posteriors at times!
Rating: 3/5 for a brave new world painted by a talented writer. Unfortunately, outer space doesn’t really captivate me so I couldn’t throw myself wholeheartedly into the story.