Review: Haevyn: Humanotica, Book 2 by Darcy Abriel

Format read: ebook provided by the author

Release Date: 20 March 2012

Number of Pages: 285

Publisher: Samhain

Genre: science fiction romance, cyberpunk, erotica, BDSM

Series: Humanotica, Book 2

Formats Available: ebook

Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Samhain Publishing, Barnes & Noble


Duty and honor demand the ultimate sacrifice.

Humanotica, Book 2

Everyone has their poison. For Haevyn Briena, it’s her inability to resist a dare. This time it’s a challenge from her friend and lover, Grisha, to sneak into the popular, illegal cage fights that always end in all-male orgies. Eagerly she snaps up the gauntlet, unaware that she will end the night forever changed.

When expatriate humanotic warrior Entreus locks eyes with Haevyn at the sex-fueled event, he is instantly captivated. Despite a duty that binds him to an exiled malevolent sorcerer, he seeks her out in a shattering, illuminating encounter.

Grisha’s plan is in motion—to bring both his warrior lovers together and heal their scarred souls with a combined passion that he alone cannot provide. But Haevyn’s tormented past refuses to die. And Entreus will not rest until the Core that ruined his life is destroyed.

Amid ever-tangling emotions and a brutal plot to take over the city, the three lovers walk a tightrope that could be cut at any moment. Fighting for justice, bound by duty…and a love that could alter the foundations of their world.

Warning: Watch out for oiled-up, naked trinespined warriors battling for top position, feisty tracer females that fit oh-so-snugly in between, and sexy nights that segue into complex relationships. Beware of tebitcheckers wielding those nasty little contulators at illegal, testosterone-drenched cage confrontations.

My thoughts:

I liked Haevyn a whole lot better than I did Silver.

Come to think of it, that applies as much to the two characters as it does to the two books.

Silver was a character who got “done to” much more than she did. She wasn’t the prime mover of her story. She doesn’t have a lot of what’s often called “agency”; meaning that she doesn’t move events directly.

Haevyn Briena has a lot of agency. It’s part of her nature. Even though the society of Quentopolis limits the roles that women are supposed to play, Haevyn continually challenges those roles, often pushing the limits to the extreme. She’s even been diagnosed with a psychological profile that translates to “extreme risk-taker”. We’d call her an adrenaline junkie.

Haevyn has to take risks, to move events, to be an agent, in order to keep herself half-sane.

When we meet her, she is attending something called a Cockrage, in disguise because women of her class aren’t supposed to attend such events.

A Cockrage is essentially a cock-fight, between men. The winner mounts the victor, in public, in the fighting ring. That’s part of the point. Dominance and submission, in every way. The men fight nude, just to make it more obvious. The fighters are always humanotics.

Haevyn is fascinated, revolted and aroused at the same time. Her “introduction” to sex was to be raped by a humanotic supervisor in return for food on her family’s table. That’s the way life worked in the dock neighborhood she grew up in. She’s worked her way up from there, but the emotional scars linger.

This society has incredibly limited roles for women. And it seems to have refined sexual politics to a fine art, or that’s the way the author has drawn it. Haevyn is an “officer” of the branch of the military that assigns personal assistants, i.e. sex workers, to high-ranking military officers and monitors and records their sexual activities, no matter what they might be. Haevyn’s assigned officer can order her to service him in any way he sees fit, as long as he does her no permanent damage, or she must record his brain activity while he performs with someone who is paid to specialize in the kind of pain she cannot be required to take.

And on top of being a highly paid military-grade prostitute, she finds herself becoming an undercover operative. Haevyn has almost more to do than she can handle.

The science fiction aspects of the story, well, some worked and some didn’t. I still don’t know whether travel from other planets is by space ship, faster-than-light travel, or something else. Haevyn does get taken to one of the “Border Towns”. Her travel is by ship, but she doesn’t leave Quentopolis’ dimension. The people they meet, their travel is left vague. Haevyn dreams of ships to other places, but she doesn’t know.

Likewise, not enough is explained about the political backstory to understand completely who should end up in charge. The readers are absolutely positive who the bad guys are. That’s plenty clear. But the political shenanigans in general are murkier than the sexual positions, even in the threesomes.

Speaking of which, there are two triangles going in this story. One is a sex triangle, and the other is a love triangle. Both have to be resolved somehow not just to get to the happy ending, but also to keep Quentopolis in one piece.

Summing it up, Haevyn is a much better story than Silver, because Haevyn is the star of her own show. She never waits for someone else to act. She acts. Sometimes she jumps in where she shouldn’t, but that’s what made her story so intense.

I give Haevyn: Humanotica, Book 2 3.5 stars.

Review: Silver: Humanotica, Book 1 by Darcy Abriel

Format read: ebook provided by the author

Release Date: December 14, 2010

Number of Pages: 264

Publisher: Samhain

Formats Available: paperback, ebook

Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Samhain Publishing , Barnes & Noble


Born to freedom. Molded into submission. Pleasure is her only weapon.

Humanotica, Book 1

No matter what the law decrees, Entreus is no one’s chattel. And he’s determined that no other humanotic-part human, part robot-spends one more second under the stranglehold of the power-mad government machine. That means doing whatever it takes to advance the cause for freedom. Even seduce a government minister’s favorite toy, a newly minted trinex named Silver.

Silver was a free woman until she committed the ultimate sin-pretending to be male to gain entrance to an exclusive science academy. Her punishment: modification. Now she is equal parts female, male and machine. The property of the secretive, charismatic Lel Kesselbaum, whose appetites push her new sexual abilities to heights of pleasure that make her wonder who is master, who is slave.

Until Entreus bargains his body in exchange for a secret meeting that rekindles her longing for freedom. Yet helping the fiery revolutionary execute his plan isn’t so simple, especially when she discovers her master’s secret-a secret that leaves her heart torn between two men. And one step in the wrong direction could mean death for them all. Warning: Contains wickedly inventive sexual situations and language, including not-so-ordinary body modification and same-sex scenes with BDSM elements. And a most unusual application of decorative silver. Please step away if your taste doesn’t run toward the exotic.

My thoughts:

There’s no other way to say this; this book bothered me.

Before the story begins, the woman Silver used to be risked everything, including her freedom, in order to obtain entrance into her world’s premier scientific and engineering academy. Her desire for independence, for education, as well as her need to for risk-taking, was so great that she defied all the strictures of her society.

But the punishment for defying the rules so publicly was to submit to slavery. Her options were to be one man’s slave, or many. And here’s where things get strange.

Silver chooses to be one man’s plaything rather than be passed around someplace foul and get used up. That’s a choice I understand. it’s what happens after that that drove me a little crazy.

Slavery in this world is based on cybernetics, or humanotics, as it’s called. Many people get cybernetic replacements for missing limbs. But if the percentage of machine parts reaches 51%, it means automatic slavery.

When Silver is punished for her crime, Silver signs herself up for deliberate mechanization past the point of no-return. And the man she is sold to, Lel Kesselbaum, well, he has a fetish for humanotics, particularly males. So, since Silver was female, he fixes that. Silver becomes a trinex; female from the waist up, male from the waist down, and more than 51% machine, and rising with each trip to the Factorium.

Even though her new owner has deliberately not asked the Factorium to alter her brain in any way, Silver seems to have the worst case of Stockholm Syndrome I’ve ever seen. This once fiercely independent woman becomes more and more submissive to her dominant owner with each treatment at the Factorium.

From the blurb, I was expecting Silver’s “real” persona to reassert itself, for there to be some question about where her loyalties might lie. Silver finds she has a dominant streak with others, but she’s all submissive with her master. And her loyalties never come into question. Her heart belongs to her master. But everything he’s done to her is supposed to be okay because he has fallen in love with her, too.

The science fiction parts of this story were fascinating. I found the decadent, fallen-empire politics very reminiscent of the darker parts of Star Wars, and the Roman Empire during the excesses of some of really bad Emperors. The sexual politics and cybernetic control that Entreus is both using and fighting are really wild.

I was way sucked into the story. But I’m so glad Silver is not the main character of the next book. It’s Entreus, the leader of the rebellion. He’s a character with more agency, which makes him a better person to follow.

I give Silver: Humanotica, Book 1–2 and half stars.

ARC Review: Banshee Charmer by Tiffany Allee

Format read: ebook provided courtesy of the publisher
Release Date: January 24, 2012
Number of pages: 159
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Formats Available: ebook
Purchasing Info:  Goodreads, Author’s Website,  Entangled Publishing, Barnes & Noble, Amazon

When she’s sent to a crime scene and finds her second dead woman in as many weeks, half-banshee detective Kiera “Mac” McLoughlin is convinced a serial killer is on the loose. Incubi are extinct, her boss insists. But what else can kill a woman in the throes of pleasure? When her partner is murdered after using witchcraft to locate the killer and Mac is thrown off the case, her frustration turns to desperation.

Certain the killer is an incubus, Mac works behind her department’s back to chase down slim, sometimes perilous leads. While the killer eludes her, she does discover handsome Aidan Byrne, an investigative counterpart from the enigmatic Otherworlder Enforcement Agency. Mac typically runs her investigations fast and hard, but with Aidan at her side, she’s running this one “hot” as well. But Aidan knows more than he’s letting on—something that could shatter their blazing romance and add Mac to the killer’s growing body count…

My Thoughts:

This was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

It was the cop banter that sucked me in. Not just because it was good cop banter, although the author got it just right, the exact kind of dry humor that is chuckle under your breath funny, but because it hit the right tone. One of the cops was a “normal” and the other is a half-banshee, and it didn’t matter. They were both cops, and they sounded like cops. I was a goner. And so was the stiff in their crime scene.

I love urban fantasy, and the closer it is to our world, the better I like it. The worldbuilding in Banshee Charmer was so close to the “real” world, there was just this slight difference, all the paranormal is real, and everyone seems to know about it. There are laws about what paranormals can and can’t do, just like everyone else. I love that kind of stuff.  Treating the paranormal as just different types of evidence it just plain cool. Done as well as it is here, it gets me every time.
But series like these live or die (no pun intended) based on whether we like the characters. If it’s a cop shop book, we need to like the cops in the shop.

It’s all down to Mac. Being only a half-banshee means her scream only stuns, it doesn’t kill. And she’s got some baggage about not being as dangerous as she might be. But she’s much more interesting because she’s not invincible. And because she’s half-banshee, men who might otherwise be attracted stay far, far away.
Mac is on the trail of a serial killer who appears to murder his victims while they are in the throes of ecstatic pleasure.  The killer’s last victim was her partner Amanda. And Mac is supposed to be off the case. But in the tradition of all good cops everywhere, Mac is investigating on her own time, with the help of the extremely handsome Otherworld Enforcement Agent who just happened to show up in her kitchen the evening before her partner became the serial killer’s victim.

Aiden Byrne is another reason this story is so good. On the one hand, it’s obvious that he isn’t who he says he is. And that there is a reason he keeps disappearing at what could best be described as “opportune” moments. But his conflict between what he feels for Mac that he knows he shouldn’t, and whatever it is he has to do with the killer, is utterly delicious.

I enjoyed Mac’s personality and perspective. She was someone I wanted to spend time with, so it was fun. And this world is cool. The paranormal has been integrated into society. What a great place for more stories.  Which means that even though there is a happily ever after, there is plenty of room for more stories. I want to see more of how this place ticks.
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