This post was originally featured on my blog Midwestern Book Nerd.

Sci-fi is a tricky genre for me. I sometimes really struggle with the science that some authors throw in, and other times I have a hard time being completely sold on the concepts and the different things that the author tried to do. This book was a totally different story.

Let me tell you about Beyond the Red by Ava Jae (summary taken from Goodreads).

Alien queen Kora has a problem as vast as the endless crimson deserts. She’s the first female ruler of her territory in generations, but her people are rioting and call for her violent younger twin brother to take the throne. Despite assassination attempts, a mounting uprising of nomadic human rebels, and pressure to find a mate to help her rule, she’s determined to protect her people from her brother’s would-be tyrannical rule.

Eros is a rebel soldier hated by aliens and human alike for being a half-blood. Yet that doesn’t stop him from defending his people, at least until Kora’s soldiers raze his camp and take him captive. He’s given an ultimatum: be an enslaved bodyguard to Kora, or be executed for his true identity—a secret kept even from him.

When Kora and Eros are framed for the attempted assassination of her betrothed, they flee. Their only chance of survival is to turn themselves in to the high court, where revealing Eros’s secret could mean a swift public execution. But when they uncover a violent plot to end the human insurgency, they must find a way to work together to prevent genocide.

I do not even know where to start with this book. This is one of those books that once I finished I let out a little sigh, possibly a huff due to wanting more, and then I proceeded to hug the book. It’s the type of adventure story that I just never tire of reading; a Queen struggling to rule mostly because of her gender and watching her make decisions that no one thinks should be made. These stories can go wrong very easily. A lot of them can come off as man hating (which bothers me because I don’t hate men) and sometimes there is so much whining by the heroine that I am just done with her. Lucky for me, this one worked. There is action, adventure, romance and it was all done so well. Here are a few of my favorite things about this book:

  • The romance made sense! How many books have you read where the romance doesn’t seem to make sense? For example, there is instalove, the love for no apparent reason, the hots for a person, etc. This doesn't happen in this book! There is an order for things, there is a physical attraction and it builds. A friendship is built FIRST AND FOREMOST, and things just happen from there. I absolutely adored this romance. It made my smile, and it also broke my heart as all good romances do. I really can’t say TOO much more because you just have to trust me on this and read it yourself.
  • Kora was an amazing main character. I think the exact words I wrote down immediately after reading was “Kora= relatable badass.” I find that in a lot of books I read the main character is so fierce and strong but I have very little that I can relate to. This doesn't mean I don't like those main characters, but it means that they don't stick with me in the way that Kora did. I felt that with Kora I could see a little bit of myself, or some of the things I do every day. She was flawed, beautifully flawed just as we all are. She struggled to do what was best FOR HER and saw her own needs get lost in the shuffle from time to time. She was able to summon strength when she felt that she had absolutely nothing left in her, which is something that I think all readers can relate to in some way. I think she is the PERFECT main character for anyone to read about.
  • Eros was fantastic. This guy….there was so much more to him than what you would think. I feel like right at the beginning I had one single impression of him. When he was introduced I was so sure he would be a specific type of character, but I was so wrong. His story line had me feeling all kinds of emotions (and even a few tears) within the first couple pages. He was put through so much throughout just ONE book and came out as strong as he could be. I admired him and his strength throughout the entire book. He really used his tragedy in the best way possible; to draw strength from and grow.

This book just FLEW by! I was shocked at how quickly I read it, but I just could not put it down. It was a whirlwind adventure with a romance that is just a bit of a slow burn. I could not get enough

When I read this book I wasn't even sure that there would be more to this series. I was left with unanswered questions, loose ends, and things that I just needed to know. Luckily it has been announced that she is writing not just a 2nd but a 3rd book! HOORAY! So be sure to read this one and prepare for book 2, set to come out this year.

Anyone read this book?

Published by Emily Nelson