Reviewed by Helyce
I have been a fan of Cheryl Brook’s Cat Star Chronicles since I came across a tattered copy of Slave in my local used book store. As I am a huge fan of science fiction, the premise of an alien species of super sexy men with feline qualities and penises with unique, err, characteristics spoke to my nerdy romantic heart. For me, this series is the best of both worlds combining romance and science fiction with a paranormal flair.
In Stud, we meet Tarquinian Zulveidinoe or Tarq for short, as he is passing through the town of Reltan on Talus Five. Tarq is one of the few survivors of the planet Zetith that was destroyed in the year 2984 by a very jealous man whose wife left him after she took a Zetithian lover. In order to save the race, Tarq has made it his life’s work to travel the galaxies, find compatible females, impregnate them and save the race from extinction. He offers his services for free; only asking that the surrogates make sure to register their children with the Zetithian Birth Registry. This is in no way a hardship for Tarq; Zetithian men are all extremely handsome and are well known for their sexual prowess. Why else would someone try to kill off of an entire species?
But Tarq’s reasons for doing what he does have nothing to do with what he looks like or what he has to offer a female in the bedroom. Rescued from his planet at a young age just before it was destroyed, he lived on board a ship that for 25 years just traveled through the galaxies, stopping only for supplies when they absolutely had to. The threat to all Zetithians was so great, they were afraid to settle in any one place for too long. Growing up and living on the ship was tough for many reasons, but for Tarq it was the fact that he had never learned to read that weighed heavily on him. He truly felt that he didn’t have anything to offer a mate because of this disability, so he set out instead, doing something he knew he was good at, spreading his seed to propagate the race.
Enter Lucinda Force, or Lucy; a human woman living in Reltan. She works in her father’s restaurant and cares for her sickly mother. Lucy has resigned herself to the fact that this is all she can expect for herself in life; stomping down her own hopes and dreams of meeting a man, marrying and having a family of her own. As she enjoys cooking, she’d also dreamt of having a restaurant of her own one day. But like everything else, she knows it’ll never come to pass. That is, until the day Tarq walked into her restaurant.
Tarq was completely unprepared for his reaction to Lucy, when she stopped at his table to take his order. Her scent called to him like no other had ever before. Lucy was not immune to Tarq either. She knew exactly who and what he was, having seen his advertisements for his services before. She certainly could not discount the fact that Tarq was a beautiful man and she could see why women would flock to him for his sexual favors. From out of nowhere, Lucy begins to hatch a plan that might finally take her away from Reltan and her family and give her the children that she’s longed for. She decides to approach Tarq and request his services.
Tarq is only too happy to comply. His reaction to Lucy is confusing to him, but he decides to just ride it out and see what happens. This is what he does and he’s good at it. But after their first time together, Tarq knows that there is something different about how he feels about Lucy, as evidenced by the fact that during lovemaking he had the urge to bite her, something that has never happened to him before. Lucy too, finds that after each encounter with Tarq she feels more for him than she should. She keeps telling herself that once she’s pregnant, he’ll move on to his next “client.” That truth does not sit well with Lucy, but she really doesn’t have a choice. She knew that he would leave her at some point.
After only a few times together, Tarq’s medical scanner finds that Lucy is in fact pregnant. While both are happy, Lucy knows that Tarq will now move on and that fact alone nearly breaks her heart. Deciding that it’s now or never, Lucy packs up that night and leaves, heading to the town of Yalka where her friend Natasha lives. The next morning, Tarq is shocked to find out that Lucy has left. Thankfully, one of Lucy’s co-workers gives Tarq all the info he needs to try and find Lucy and hopefully convince her of his feelings. Unfortunately, even after he finds Lucy, his old feelings of inadequacy keep him from making his feelings known. In an effort to buy some time, he offers to take Lucy to Yalka and safely deliver her to Natasha’s home.
Unfortunately, there are those still out there that are not fond of the Zetithians or aliens in general. Tarq becomes a target for some local men who have been harassing any aliens in an attempt to run them out of town. When Tarq is brutally attacked, he and Lucy are forced into hiding in the mountains where they come across a camp of other alien beings, including Lucy’s friend Natasha and her husband Traldeck. As soon as Tarq sees one of the males eyeing Lucy, his protective instincts go into overdrive and he firmly introduces Lucy as his mate, to hopefully make clear that Lucy is unavailable. She is after all pregnant with his children.
Together, this mix of aliens and humans must fight their way through the mountains to try and get through to the next town and safety. Through it all, Lucy and Tarq’s feeling for each other grow, but neither of them is willing to admit it. Lucy’s heart swells with her feelings for Tarq while at the same time breaking every time she imagines him leaving her at the end of their journey. Tarq’s low self-image have him wary of making his feelings known, yet at the same time he knows he will never be able to let Lucy walk way.
I always look forward to Ms. Brooks’ next book because I know that she will take me on a fantastic futuristic ride packed with excitement, adventure and many, many alien creatures that will either make me laugh or totally gross me out. In this she does not disappoint. Of course we are treated to the trademark Zetithian smexiness, but at the same time, we are given two characters that have much to overcome within themselves before they are even able to allow their self imposed walls to fall down. In Tarq, we have a man, who for his whole life has thought he was somehow ‘less’ because he was never able to learn how to read properly. But as the reader, we see that he is so much ‘more’ from the beginning. The way he’d trained his brain over the years to accommodate the fact that he could not read, had him being a walking encyclopedia because he’d memorized so many important facts and details over the years that consistently proved useful in the course of this story. In Lucy, we see a woman, who because of a controlling father and sickly mother, settled into a life that was for lack of a better word, comfortable. It would take meeting a very special Zetithian to knock her out of her self-imposed prison and push her toward the life she was meant to have.
There were points where I just wanted to slap both Tarq and Lucy and just tell them to “get on with it already”, but as the story moves forward I could see why the author gave them so much time to realize what we as the reader concluded very early on. The one thing I did miss in this installment was that there was no interaction with some of the early major characters, specifically Cat and Captain Jack! We do meet up with Dax and Ava from a previous book, but just briefly. All in all, I enjoyed this futuristic trip into space and look to the next book!