Can you have a cinnamon roll hero whose body is literal armor? I guess so.
Plot: Beryl is doing community service cleaning up after some LARPers (no we do not find out why she has to do community service or why this would qualify). Meanwhile, Zylar, an alien described at one point as resembling the Alien from Predator, is en route to pick up his fiancee, who he is not stoked about and has never met, but on Barath, you get five shots at successfully pairing up and he’s failed four Choosings already, so random stranger he met on Alien eHarmony it is. Only due to solar flares, he accidentally ends up on Earth, and in the dark, he thinks Beryl is his intended mate. And that she’s in danger. So even though they couldn’t communicate, he picks her up and hightails it home. It doesn’t take long to realize the mistake, but the ship’s AI was damaged and earth’s coordinates were lost. So what’s Beryl to do? Shenanigans ensure.
This book is utterly precious. You would think that because it is a love story between a woman and an alien that it’s going to go very heavy into the alien kink (which is totally fine, just not my jam), but the story is very much about two lost souls finding meaning and strength in a situation utterly beyond anything they could have ever imagined let alone prepared for. It’s about how often times, the way we find courage is by meeting someone who believes in us before we’re ready to believe in ourselves, and how transformative that faith can be. And despite what I just said, while the book doesn’t sensationalize the differences in the anatomy, it works hard to remind the reader that this is an alien world and these are aliens. These are not humans that happen to be green. They have a vastly different political structure, social structure, history, priorities, architecture, and yes, also a completely different anatomy. It takes a lot of work for Beryl and Zylar to understand each other and while there are unique elements to those difficulties, much more of them are universal.
The other great piece of this is how well Aguirre sets up the series, because while our heroes obviously prevail, there are some real problems on Barath and I very much look forward to seeing how they resolve in the long term. I’m also in the strange position of shipping a bug-like alien and a plant-like entity and would very much like to see those crazy kids work things out.
Now to go convince my husband to start calling me Oh Terrible One.