The Starlight Rite

Armelina Archer isn’t in a place she ever expected to be. Three weeks ago her ship blew up, her friends on board killed and she barely escaped with her life. Her husband of five years set the whole thing up and now she’s stranded with no place to go and with no money. She hoping to be able to mug someone coming out of a club to get enough money to eat and get off Nexan, the planet she’s on. Her first mark leaves with two women but then she sees a man using a cane. Though she feels bad about taking out a cripple, she’s desperate. She doesn’t expect to find a man in his prime under the concealing cape nor does she expect him to grab her.

Kinae Dain of the Zarain clan is head of security on Nexan. He’s currently out waiting for his knee to heal but he never expects someone to try and rob him! Dain turns the thief into the justice system where she gives her name as Mella. Judgment is 200 royals which Mella does not have which means she will be auctioned off as an indentured servant until she earns that amount.

Mella has no skills except singing. She’s a world famous singer but if her husband finds out where she is, he’ll try to kill her again. She can’t go to the authorities because two of them are in on her husband’s plot. With no other choice, Mella is up for auction as a sex slave.

She’s scared and appalled. Forty years ago, Earth had Morality Wars. Sex is only for reproduction. Any physical contact for pleasure is banned. Holding hands is seen as scandalous. Now, Mella is expected to have sex with a stranger for pleasure! She’s to stand and allow people to touch her! Can no one save her?

Dain is attracted to this short, curvy woman from Earth. If she but asks, he’s more than willing to buy her contract. He’ll be generous with her but he will expect to enjoy her body. All she has to do is ask, but will she?

I have been a major fan of Ms Sinclair’s work since the first book I read of hers. She normally writes contemporary BDSM stories, usually set in a club setting. When I learned she was to write a sci fi/fantasy, I was wondering if she could pull it off. I am thrilled to say that like Johanna Lindsey who writes mostly historical romance but has a couple futuristic fantasy novels, Ms Sinclair aced the jump to a new genre.

The world that is developed on Nexan is rich with details. The people that populate the planet are human colonists. They have adapted to a world that mutates most things brought from Earth. There is a wonderful mix of technology and antiquity, practicality and whimsy. Attitudes about sex couldn’t be further from the rigid Earth morals but it’s needed to continue the mix of genes to keep Nexan’s populate viable. What I really loved the most is the purple grass. (Sorry, I know a silly detail but in high school I wrote about purple snow and got thrown out of class.)

The emotional pull draws you into the character’s lives and you feel as if you have a vested interest in what is happening. You’re able to connect with Mella and her desire to please Dain but her fear of going against her upbringing. Dain likes Mella but can he trust her? She’s not exactly easy to manage even if she is submissive in bed. Secondary characters from Dain’s mother to his nieces show a wide range of emotions which further enhance the story.

The characters are super. They are complex and well rounded. No one is isolated or fails to interact with other characters. They all have histories, from the servants to Dain’s cousin, giving them motives to their actions. No cardboard, boring characters in this story!

Yes, sex is an essential element. After all, Mella has been sold as a sex slave. And BDSM has made an appearance but not anything real hard core. The sex while very graphic is not just done for a thrill factor. It’s part of the story and emotional ties are strong.

Okay, after finishing this story, all I can say is wow. It was great. From start to finish I was enthralled and had no desire to put the book down. I got to the end and was like wait a minute, I want more. And I do want more. I loved these characters. I loved this world.

For those readers who have never read Ms Sinclair’s contemporary work, this is an excellent introduction to her writing style. For those that love her work, this will be a terrific introduction to the joys of a different genre. I’m exited to see Ms Sinclair expand her writing to new


Book Blurb for The Starlight Rite

Her voice is famous throughout the galaxy; her face is completely unknown.

Fleeing her monstrous husband back on puritanical Earth and the police assassins he's hired, singer Mella Archer becomes stranded on the frontier planet of Nexus. Desperate to survive, she picks the wrong target--Dain, the head of planetary security.

Dain is amused by the attempted theft, and when Mella is sentenced to serve time indentured as a bedroom slave, he buys her contract. As he introduces the repressed Earther to the pleasures of sex with a dominating warrior, he slowly comes to realize that the little thief has stolen his heart.

When the monster arrives on Nexus and has lunch with Dain, Mella is panic-stricken. Her owner must be part of the conspiracy to kill her, and it will only be a matter of time before the monster discovers that she’s still alive. She attempts to escape. She fails. Embittered by her lies and mistrust, Dain returns her to Indenture Hall to be sold again.

Now the monster has found her. And she has nowhere left to run...

[Reprint]


Night Owl Reviews Aug, 2010 5.00