Slaves of an Alien Game
Genre: Science Fiction Romance
He stood there in the headlights of my car, not answering me. I wondered if he was going to shift into a more alien body and go, “You got me!”
“Are you an alien from another planet?” I repeated the question slowly as if that might help prompt an answer from him.
“Yes.” He offered nothing more. We both waited, for what I wasn’t sure. Maybe he was considering if he needed to dose me again.
The standoff ended with him turning to enter the junkyard. He angled his flashlight around, looking for his next orb, while I stood there unable to move or speak.
What the hell was a person supposed to do in this situation? Text their mom and say, “Hey. So, I got pulled into this alien scavenger hunt, and I’m gonna be gone for a while. Let’s hope I don’t get probed.” Include a few laughing-face emojis, maybe an alien-face emoji too.
“Caden!” His deep voice, which now sounded extremely alien to me—as if I could hear extra tones in it that I hadn’t noticed before—pulled me out of my reverie. Well, the third time he shouted my name, it did. The first two, I was too busy thinking about how weird his voice was.
I walked over to where he stood, his flashlight aimed at the orb on the ground.
“You must now decide,” he said. “Will you collect the orbs and be my ally?”
“You promise I’ll be safe?” I asked. “I’m not going to die doing this? I will be completely intact, my arm and everything. And this—these things will all be removed from my body?”
“If we are the victors of the game, you can have whatever you wish. I promise you that.”
“And if we lose?” The fact he’d worded his response the way he did made me wonder if the losers were killed or something.
He kept the flashlight aimed at the orb, and with his other hand, he cupped my chin.
“If you are my ally and do as I say, we will win. I assure you of this,” he said.
I waited, expecting that surge of magical opioids from his hand, but none came. Maybe he was decent enough to want me to make the decision sober. “And you’ll return me back here, to Earth?”
“Yes, with a settlement of the prize. Cash if you like,” he said.
Well... I mean, I needed his help getting this thing off anyway. And he wasn’t being a jerk. He seemed nice enough for an alien. He could clobber me with brute force and make me help him, except maybe the rules kept him from doing that or something. Would the rules keep me safe after we left Earth? Good gravy, what was I saying? I was acting as if this was a normal problem people faced.
“Fine, we’ll be an alliance,” I said.
“Wonderful. Pick up the orb.” His face truly looked pleased, and this time the tingle that went through my body was a burst of chemicals of my body’s own making.
Slaves of an Alien Game: Book One is the debut novel in author Nina R. Schluntz’s new science fiction romance series of the same title. The story hits the ground running and never lets up, even as the two main protagonists navigate unfamiliar feelings for each other.
Caden is fun, engaging, and unsure of himself, especially in the romance department, as he’s always thought of himself as strictly heterosexual. However, he’s kept the one girl he’s had any kind of meaningful relationship with at arm’s length for years. It seems everyone had assumed Caden was gay all his life, including the aforementioned girlfriend! Early on in the book, when he and Raghib are discovered to have spent the night together, Caden’s mother is hilariously giddy that her son has brought home such a desirable catch. I loved that she invited the whole family over to wish them well on their upcoming trip together.
Raghib is the alien partner, born into slavery on his home planet, and a more serious character. He has trouble pinning down his feelings for Caden and vacillates between overt desire and adopted indifference; he doesn’t want to get hurt when Caden returns to Earth after they are victorious in battle.
The author builds a fascinating and vivid world as the setting leading up to the Battle of a Thousand Deaths. My favorite aspect, though, has to be the lizard-like creatures called sahalias which are bonded to Caden as the finder of the black orbs. I couldn’t help but picture Great Dane-sized, velociraptor-type animals.
The plot maintains a fast pace with preparations for the battle, Caden and Raghib getting to know each other, dealing with their differences, and inevitably falling in love. There are explicit sex scenes, most of which are intimate and tender, but a few are performed to repay a debt or requirement of another. Early encounters are enhanced by the exotic nature of the alien connection between the two men: they are bonded in a consensual owner-slave alliance, and there are some rules which structure and guide that particular relationship that end up having some surprising ramifications for both. Finally, with all the preparations and events Caden and Raghib must attend before the actual arena match, I was glad that the battle was presented the way it was: non-stop action, and it was over. I had become quite attached to Caden, Raghib, and the sahalias and was dreading the fight and the awful possibilities it posed.
With its engaging boy-next-door main character and imaginative plot, I recommend SLAVES OF AN ALIEN GAME to readers who would enjoy a M/M SciFi romance with non-stop action and adventure.