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REVIEW: Forbidden Pursuits, by Harry F. Rey

Title: Forbidden Pursuits

Series: The Galactic Captains Book Two

Author: Hary F. Rey

Genre: sci fi

LGBTQ+ Category: Gay

Publisher: NineStar Press

Pages: 196

Reviewer: Andy

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About The Book

When Daeron’s mother, Captain Sanya, is offered a risky but lucrative job, rescuing an experimental galinium scientist from Aldegar, the lost loves lurking in her past mean she must send Daeron away to the other end of the galaxy—to the father he’s never met on the Kyleri Empire’s capital, Jiwani.

On Jiwani, the heir to the galaxy’s most powerful empire, Prince Osvai, balances deference to rigid Kyleri customs with his desire to explore the forbidden secrets of the Royal Baths, and the dark pursuits no prince should have.

But when a mysterious stranger from the Outer Verge turns up to work with his ambitious Uncle Viscamon, Osvai’s temptations lead him into a web of intrigue that could change the Galactic Balance forever.

As Sanya, Daeron, and Osvai pursue their forbidden desires, they become entwined in a galactic power struggle stretching from the frozen tundra of Jansen to the searing memories of Captain Ales’s lost homeworld, Teva.

They’ll soon discover all love has consequence, and the more forbidden the desires, the more deadly the pursuits.

The Review

Two very horny young men discover love against a backdrop of family secrets and galactic politics in Harry F. Rey’s cross genre Forbidden Pursuits.

Nineteen-year-old Osvai is the only surviving son of an ailing, one-hundred-and-fifty-year-old emperor though his scheming uncle Viscamon has largely frozen him out of court. Osvai’s reckoning of the soon-to-come, staggering transfer of power is a murky matter. He’s consumed by sexual need, which involves being harnessed to a futuristic glory hole for hour-long, anal intercourse with a double-digit line of bathhouse patrons.

Nineteen-year-old Daeron was raised by an all female band of bounty hunters traveling the ‘slipstream’ from world-to-world catching criminals. His mother Sanya is captain of the Daring Huntress and a hardened, no-nonsense leader. Ironically, though surrounded by women all of his life, Daeron’s attraction to men has emphatically announced itself and he’s a total top. He ekes out sexual encounters in public restrooms whenever the ship comes to port and lately has ventured into bringing sexual partners on board and coaxing prisoners in the ship’s brig to bare their bottoms. It all comes rather easily to Daeron because of his stunning muscular body and irresistible, exotically proportioned penis.

With a mission ahead to break free her ex lover Sallah, Sanya sends Daeron to live with his father who is a diplomat in the imperial capital of Jiwani. Her reasons are gradually revealed in flashbacks that illuminate both the danger posed toward Daeron and the greater stakes for the galactic order.

Thus Daeron and Osvai’s paths cross, and when Daeron’s incomparable penis enters Osvai’s preternaturally talented ass in the bathhouse, instalove ignites.

It’s not the most relatable of stories, and the two youths aren’t the most relatable of characters (and the sexual mechanics are not the most believable of anatomical possibilities without serious medical trauma being involved). Nonetheless, Rey’s sub/dom erotic romance storyline will surely appeal to mm fans who like their ms sexually voracious and conventionally tropish. Daeron is the supernaturally endowed alpha male. Osvai is the pretty, fey beta. Their emotional collision was written in the stars.

That overpowering, idealized romance arc is unfortunate as otherwise Rey crafts an intriguing galaxy. Jiwani is a crystal city, forged from diamonds. The emperor’s male-dominated court is an opulent, effeminate society in which men wear high heeled diamond shoes, cosmetics, and elaborately draped and wound robes. It’s reminiscent of Ricardo Pinto’s grandiose aristocratic vision in his Dance of the Stone Chameleon series, and the juxtaposition of male power and peacock-like pageantry is well-played as simultaneously provocative and matter-of-fact.

The story achieves its greatest fascination through that rendering of the paradoxical sensibilities of the imperial Kyleri (Osvai’s race). Osvai’s father ushered in an era of stridently patriarchal and puritanical traditions to rein in polyamorous customs that supposedly threatened social order. Osvai mentions a previous emperor who had one thousand husbands and one thousand wives, a story that surely deserves its own installment in the series.

Presently, Jiwani society is gender segregated with strict prohibitions against pre-marital sex and homosexuality. Yet its beloved bathhouse culture is replete with homoeroticism and not so secret chambers where men mill about inserting their erections into the mouths and bums of men who willingly get strapped into pleasure booths. The hypocrisy rings true for a socially stratified, fundamentalist society and points out the absurdity of denying the need for sexual gratification. But Rey boldly takes that theme even further by showing the interaction between sexual repression and sexual kink vis-à-vis the abuse and fetishization of slaves and male chastity play. 

Rey has interesting things to say about eroticism, and the story’s sex positive tone is appealing. Ultimately though, Forbidden Pursuits is Osvai and Daeron’s love story, which will be gripping for some readers and a tad mundane for others.

A good book for SFF readers who like the highly sexualized work of C.S. Pacat and M.A. Church.    

The Reviewer

Andy is an award-winning author, an educator, and an activist. His novel The City of Seven Gods won the 2017 Silver Falchion Award (Best Horror/Fantasy) and was a finalist in the 2016 Foreword INDIES (Best Sci Fi/Fantasy). He is also the author of the Werecat series, Poseidon and Cleito, two books for young adults (The Seventh Pleiade and Banished Sons of Poseidon), and most recently the romantic comedy Irresistible. Oh, and he’s a Hufflepuff.

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