An intolerable order. A desperate charade. A deadly secret.
Before Commander Torek Renaar can return to active duty, he’s ordered to purchase an animal companion to help relieve his PTSD symptoms. But having been a caretaker for and lost a loved one, keeping even one little human alive is a challenge he feels doomed to fail. It doesn’t help that his animal companion is the newest, most exotic breed on the market, demanding constant attention, daily grooming, and delicate handling. If she doesn’t die first in his incompetent care, she’ll be the death of him.
After witnessing the murder of her domestication specialist, Delaney McCormick allows her new owner to treat her like the pet he believes her to be. If anyone suspects she’s more intelligent than a golden retriever, her murder would be next. She endures the humiliation of being washed, the tediousness of being trained to “sit” and “come,” and the intrigue of hearing private conversations. But in Torek’s care, she finds something unexpected on this antarctic planet, something she never had in all her years on Earth while house-hopping between foster families: a home.
As companionship grows to love, must Delaney continue the charade, acting like an animal and hiding from the murderer waiting on her misstep? Or can she trust Torek with her secrets, even if the truth threatens everything he holds dear—and both their lives?
For a book with a humorous premise, this was pretty dark. The hero had PTSD and was a widower, the heroine had a horrible history of abuse. She’s threatened into silence and pretends to be a pet after witnessing a murder by someone powerful. She endures humiliation being treated like an animal. She suffers multiple attacks on her life and grave injuries.
The connection between them builds slowly through mutual respect and admiration, though they hook up relatively quickly after he learns she’s a person. The first half of the novel is relatively slow compared to the fast paced action of the ending.
I’m not quite sure whether the humor tempered the darkness, or was a tonal mismatch. I think it’s just on the line of working. He’s described as a sasquatch / Chewbacca with horns (though spoilers, he sheds and turns into a hot dude in summer). His dick is tucked into a little pocket when he’s not turned on 😂 And, making zero biological sense, his cum is actually a neutralizer to his semen??? 🤔 No wonder this race of aliens has so few kids.
The economics behind this civilization are a bit handwavy for being a driving motivator of the villain. It would have been nice to understand a little bit more about how this society worked, or get a sense that it’s financially stretched thin (when in fact the implication is the opposite). They are obsessed with collecting exotic pets from other planets and apparently have been for generations – which as noted is a very expensive interest. They must also trade things or collect resources?
I would have also liked some more exploration of their society, which is an odd blend of semi-feudal lordships and modern technology, such that this important commander is left to die of fever untreated because in his delirium he gives orders to leave him alone. I can see a civilization like that existing but maybe not this one – it feels inconsistent with the other worldbuilding that these are a people who visit their doctors weekly and have miraculous healing technology that fixes broken bones and missing eyes.
The monster problem also seems like people with this level of tech should be able to develop a higher tech solution than flying a helicopter down its throat and shooting it 🤔
I’ll probably check out the next book in the series when it comes out.