by Sansa Rayne, Stella Rising 

A very thought provoking story.

This is a new-to-me author, but I’m glad that I took a chance on reading Allure. The setting is somewhat middle ages, possibly in a dystopian Earth future or based on some other planet. I found it difficult to place in a sub-genre or trope, though it felt more fantasy than paranormal.

I enjoyed the story, finding the plot easy to follow and liking the main characters. Whilst the idea of the heroine (or hero) being an ‘outsider’ is not new the world the author created, along with the detail of the heroine’s resistance to allure and subsequent issues, made this feel quite an unusual read. The writing is good, the story entertaining and the relationship between Cassian and Inara ultimately being very believable.

It may have been me, but at the beginning the story did feel a little directionless. I appreciated that the author didn’t do a huge information dump to world build, but I did find myself waiting for something to happen. Personally I would have liked this time to have been spent building the connection between Inara and Cassian. I’m not a fan of insta-anything, so the fact that their physical relationship went from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye felt a little jarring.

I quite liked that the book didn’t portray virginity as a feminine virtue BUT how this juxtaposed with women being very much the voiceless submissive in any relationship perhaps could have done with being elaborated on a little more. Some really innovative world building but it just needed developing/expanding on a little more to help me understand why sex was ok but then they had to be SO submissive.

There are some quite deep messages within this book around how we judge others and how it is easy to abuse power, and as a result abuse those who are weaker than us. Cassian and Inara are both very different to the norm, but it is easier for Cassian given the patriarchal nature of their society. I loved that he didn’t want to change Inara in any way but that he wanted to forge a partnership with her, you could genuinely sense his respect for Inara.

Inara has never felt the ethereal pleasure of a man’s allure, a manifestation of will that rewards submission. Casting aside the collar of her youth, she attends her long-awaited blossoming ceremony longing to partake in her overdue rite of womanhood. But when she experiences allure for the first time, the celebration spirals into a waking nightmare.

Sensing a need to end his string of flings and take a wife, Sir Cassian sets his sights on the kind and beautiful Inara. A knight reputed for his skills in combat as much as his charm, he will do whatever he must to ensure Inara picks him as her suitor. When she flees her blossoming, inexplicably terrified, he seizes the opportunity to help her – and claim her.
Unable to avoid the sinister effect allure has on her, Inara agrees to pose as Cassian’s new beau. At first hesitant to reveal the whole truth, she submits to his discipline, unleashing the bliss she’s always craved. However, divulging her dark discovery thrusts them into a conflict that will test their commitment to each other and their entire world.

When Inara learns there may be a way for her not to suffer from allure, Cassian vows to find the answer. Yet their search draws the attention of those intent on stifling the truth, no matter who they have to kill. Pursued by zealous assassins, Inara must choose: hide who she is to protect her love, or fight to expose the secret of allure…
For a dark romantic adventure you can’t put down, buy Allure today!

Publisher’s note: “Allure” is a dark, romantic thriller with erotic content, no cliffhangers, no cheating and a HEA. It contains material some may find disturbing. Reader discretion is advised.

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