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  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    A fantasy/sci-fi romance!

    Release is the second novella in Claire Kent's Hold series. The first book in the series, titled Hold, was a gritty erotic prison planet sci-fi story that had me hooked from the first page with its intensity. Release follows up that story by taking one of the characters who escapes from the prison planet, Hall, and giving him a chance at his own happy ending. The story takes place on another planet, also in Coalition space, one known for its debauched excesses. Hall is there to help smuggle some goods off world, but finds himself captivated by Kyla, the sister of Lady Patrice who is the current governor. As one of Lady Patrice's potential suitors, for them to even strike up a friendship is forbidden. But Kyla finds herself equally drawn to this mysterious man, even as she knows something isn't quite on the up and up. When Hall gives her the chance to escape her unsatisfying life, will she jump at the chance to explore new worlds with him? Or will a Coalition crack down ruin any chance of them making a new life together? I definitely found this story lighter in tone and less erotic than Hold, but equally interesting. It's a combination fantasy and sci-fi romance, with much of the action taking place on the planet's surface. Hall is a fascinating man. He has a psychic ability as a Reader, a man who can sense others emotions. But he also has the skill of being able to change another's feelings by delving into their psyche. This enables him to keep his position as a potential suitor for Lady Patrice (necessary for infiltrating the Royal Court), yet at the same time to keep her from choosing him by using his telepathic powers. His attraction to Kyla confounds him. She's obviously an innocent despite the sexual excesses that go on around her. Hall is an experienced man who has had lots of lovers, but he is drawn to her because she is different. Kyla is a quiet, unassuming woman. She tries to avoid Court as much as possible, uncomfortable with what goes on around her. It's historically the norm for their planet for the ruler to choose a new lover every week. She's been exposed to public sexual acts since she was young, and so they hold no interest for her. She has no desire to interact with a man in a world where emotions are clearly not involved between bed partners. She catches Hall outside of the castle, a place he's not supposed to be, and they strike up a conversation that leads to a friendship between them. Soon, the sexual chemistry can't be denied and Hall realizes that he's falling in love with this woman who is so different from anyone he has ever met. Their love scenes are powerful, as his psychic gift makes for a connection between them unlike any other relationship he's had. The forbidden love affair aspect keeps the story moving at a swift pace, as the chances of them getting caught grow, and the Coalition catches wind of a rebellion her sister is fomenting. I enjoyed everything about this story, from the development of the relationship between Hall and Kyla to the world building and the setting. There's some good tension buildup as the story progresses, and even though it's not overly long, it's an entertaining read. I found Hall's psychic gift added an interesting dimension to his character. I'm looking forward to more in this series! 4 stars.
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