Thursday, December 28, 2017

Book Review: 'Cherished' by Jessica Coulter Smith


They say that love is blind, but in Lucie’s case, it’s literal. Blinded after an accident at the auction house, Lucie is fortunate to have a decent man purchase her anyway. Cael always made sure her basic needs are met. She had food, clothes, and shelter. Even though she knows he uses some of the other girls for carnal pleasure, he never attempts to touch her in any way that makes her feel uncomfortable. But her world is suddenly about to change when he agrees to give up ownership of her in exchange for passage on a spacecraft to a new planet and a new life for him.
It’s a time when females are scarce and several alien species are on the verge of extinction if they don’t find a way to replenish their numbers, human females have become a hot commodity. Only able to see vague shadows and forms, Lucie has a very limited ability to care for herself. Dependent upon the mercy of men seemingly desperate to have a woman in their bed, she can only hope none take advantage of her vulnerability.
To her surprise, it seems many of the males aboard the spacecraft have an interest in having her as their mate. She doesn’t understand why. Who could possibly want a woman who can’t see? One who can’t cook, sew, care for children, or do anything most mated women would do? Though many tell her she’s beautiful, she really can’t understand why they feel that way, unless they’re so desperate to have a woman they’re willing to take a blind one.
Not being one to wallow in self-pity, Lucie carries herself with as much pride and courage as she can muster. Feeling her way around the ship, she does what she can to limit the burden upon her fellow travelers. As a few of the men begin to make their interest in her more clear, Lucie starts to wonder if maybe she shouldn’t choose one of them to be her protector, among other things. Would that be so bad?
A Tourmalane warrior and son of the king, Dryxel is desperate to find a mate. Like other races, his is destined for extinction. But when it came to Tourmalane reproduction, he couldn’t just settle on any woman, only a true mate would produce children. From the moment he invades the Tarnan ship and finds Lucie stumbling down the hall, he knows she’s the one.
Like any warrior, Dryxel is headstrong and determined to get what he wants. He would have gladly fought off the Tarnan men, even on their ship and sorely outnumbered, but he wouldn’t risk Lucie’s safety. When he hears how they refer to her as being ill, and then watches as they recklessly shove her aside in an effort to get to him, he nearly goes crazy with rage. But there’s nothing he can do but let them capture him and hope for a way to escape back to his ship with Lucie in tow. Even if it causes a war between the Tarnan and Tourmalane races, he refuses to go without her.
Ms. Coulter Smith has penned an interesting world where it seems human females are on everyone’s must have list. While some races, like the Keshpans, use them for personal slaves and outlets for pleasure, there are others who would gladly fall to the ground and kiss the dirt from their feet. I really enjoyed Lucie’s character. While described by others in the story as beautiful, she’s certainly not perfect. She knows her limitations but doesn’t sit around feeling sorry for herself. Dryxel is like most warriors—big, strong, handsome, bull-headed—he’s a typical alpha male. It’s the way he treats Lucie as an equal, despite her restricted vision, that really boosts his appeal. I found the level of Lucie’s experience when it came to sex, compared to Dryxel’s lack of experience, a nice change. She wasn’t some scared little virgin. Blind or not, she knew what she wanted and proceeded to show Dryxel exactly what to do. As with any Science fiction/fantasy novel, there were some odd characteristics about Tourmalane men and procreation. In any other story, it would have seemed too far out there, but given the setting, it’s acceptable.
Probably one of the things that hindered my enthrallment of this story was the speed in which Lucie and Dryxel were decidedly in love with each other. I believe in lust at first sight, like at first sight, definite interest at first sight, and can even accept some pretty strong feelings toward someone within a short time span, but I just can’t swallow being “in love” within a day. Maybe I just take the word too literal, but true love only comes after a bit of time getting to know each other.
Aside from my own personal opinions and preferences, it was a decent story that certainly didn’t feel like a waste of my time. I don’t think I’ve read anything thus far that portrayed one of the characters as having a disability that would impact their life the way Lucie’s blindness does, and so the saving grace for this book was the author’s choice of characteristics for her characters. There’s a fine line for reviewers between being objective and nit-picking. Sometimes it’s hard to see the beauty of a story when you’re too busy fussing about things that you would have written differently. All in all, I enjoyed Cherished, and am glad to have read it.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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