I truly enjoyed this story about Jason and Lera.
Perera strikes a very good balance between fantasy and realism in her world--not so gritty so that it gets depressing, but not so dreary that a happy ending seems impossible. However, I do think that Perera might have tried too hard for a "believable" happy ending because I did think the outcome was a bit more threadworn than I expected, given what the MCs went through. Despite that, the politics were interesting and the character interactions were vivid and engrossing.
What I really liked was the interaction between Jason and Lera. It is rare, for me, to see a fantasy-based romance where the woman is more physically adept or combat-ready than the man, and when that happens, more often than not, the man is a sly rogue with a silver tongue capable of charming a demon back to hell.
Refreshingly enough, Jason is competent and intelligent and capable, but he definitely isn't a one-man army and he doesn't seem to have a knack for charm. He plays well off Lera's sort of stoic warrior-woman thing and I was happy to see that there was a give and take between them in terms of saving the day. I also particularly liked when certain aspects of Jason's job came into play -- it's not often that someone's more mundane job and his expertise there actually drives a plot forward, but it did here and that was great fun to see.
This was the first story I've read by Perera and I don't think it'll be the last.
One touch, and the tide isn’t all that’s rising.
When brothel health inspector Jason Remerley finds a uniformed woman waiting impatiently in the Velvet Court parlor, wanting to hire a man’s services, he’s struck by lightning. His intense, immediate attraction compels him to pretend his way into her arms.
Enough silver, and most men forget about Captain Lera Vanze’s half-burned face. She senses something off about the handsome, ill-dressed prostitute who sells himself so cheaply. But with his first touch, goose bumps turn to shivers of desire—right before the truth drives them in opposite directions.
Her fury is still simmering when they face each other in a more “official” capacity. She’s joined a warship to stop a terrorist only Jason can identify. Though trust is scarce, they’re swept away in a tidal wave of murderous plots and an explosive attraction that could leave them marooned in an emotional—and very real—minefield.
Warning: She knows how to wield her sword, he knows just how, when, and where to apply his…mind. Contains deception in a brothel, sex in a cave, a shark with a bad habit, and one very large wave.
Stands Alone: Yes