In the spirit of the open and honest review I promised Kayla in exchange for an ARC of Obsession By Treaty, I have a confession to make:
I was not sure I was going to enjoy this novel as much as the others. Why? *Ahem* I've grown addicted to the seductive Qui. True story: I swear, their pheromones have travelled through the internet and lodged themselves in my brain via my downloaded Kindle copy... In short; I wanted Otlu's story. Or Fitar 's. Or the continuation of Jaden & Sonil's complicated relationship. In fact, I'll take whatever Qui Kayla seems fit to throw my way. I will drop every other book (with one or two exceptions) in sight and focus on the lusty lizards.
While it's true that the alien presence is is kept to a bare minimum in this story, one tiny alien artifact nevertheless plays a pivotal role in the lives of soldiers Darby McCabe and Ethan Saracen.
While on a routine mission to Petra to investigate a downed K'Lahn spaceship of unknown provenance, major McCabe discovers a tiny pebble outside the wreck. Her secret infatuation with her superior officer is twisted into a dark obsession that leads her to abduct Ethan.
Having read the general Jaden's classified files, Darby intends to train Ethan the same way Sonil trained her tribute. Through pain and enslavement, Darby's final goal is a sex slave of her very own. She's even developed a few technological gadgets specifically designed to keep him in line.
Colonel Ethan Saracen has always put Darby on a pedestal. Not only does he view her as an excellent soldier and technological whiz kid - in the secret depths of his heart, she is the woman he loves, respects and care for in a world of harsh war and brutal survival. But as career officer, his duty is first and foremost to Earth.
Even as he is subjected to her harsh and I humane training, he refuses to believe that *his* Darby is capable of the cruel treatment she's subjecting him to and suspects that something had happened to her. And thus begins the fight to escape her clutches and alert his superiors to the situation.
While Darby loves his submission and relishes in his inability to resist her, Ethan's feelings are more conflicted. He hates her and what she has turned him into - and he yearns for the woman he loved. Soon, he learns to live for the moments when he recognizes a glimpse of the woman she used to be.
With central command closing in one them, will Ethan's rescue herald Darby's destruction. Is there any hope of salvaging a relationship tainted by mental torture, pain and rape?
Just to make it clear: this book is darker than the four Qui Treaty novellas - even Zeus and Meseri's story, perhaps even Sonil and Jaden's story. Readers beware, there are non-con sex scenes in this book. Unlike Jaden, Ethan is not a (semi-)willing participant. And that's not even the most heartbreaking aspect. More than one innocent person is permanently scarred by the events that take place in this book.
While some may find it dark, I thoroughly enjoyed Obsession by Treaty. Not only was it hot (don't judge me!) it was also a psychological thriller that really puts you through the emotional wringer. On top of that, we got a closer look at the tattered remnants of human society, as well as the inner workings of Central Command and Earth's government - which btw, was very interesting.
But what intrigued me the most: you get the sense that there is more going on behind the scenes than the Qui are aware of. Someone is playing a dangerous game, and we have yet to meet all the players. This is a game with the highest of stakes of all: Earth's continued survival. And as we all know; war makes strange bedfellows. I bet you, this will be the focus of the next book, Betrayal by Treaty. I for one, am seriously excited about that particular novel - As well as this one. Well done, Kayla, well done!