Sorry, but this is one of those books that's hard to review without a few minor spoilers. You have been warned.
Earth's first alien contact is with a species that becomes known as the “Hush”, who come from a planet of mostly ice and have technology far more advanced than humans. Initially friendly, the Hush exchange come of their tech for farm produce. But then they begin to see humans as stupid and short-sighted for their lack of care for the environment they're blessed with. The aliens then start to attack the symbols of this disregard, such as deep sea oil platforms.
Landon Evans is just a simple farm boy from a small town in Kansas. A very large farm boy. But despite his size, Landon has always avoided confrontation and fights. When Landon is drafted into the earth defense forces, the military officers only see his size and believe they can turn the young man into a super soldier. Only, Landon disappoints them with his lack of killer instinct. Still, he ends up on the front lines as part of a crew that jumps in to defend human installations when they're attacked by the Hush. When his ship is sent to Mars to try and take back the human colonies, Landon is capture and held prisoner by the Sorg, who have allied with the Hush in the fight for earth.
On the surface, “Alien Heart” may seem like another entry in the kidnapped-by-aliens theme I seem to have going. However, this is a very different kind of story. Most of the books I've tagged with that term are primarily romances, often of the steamy variety. There's very little heat to this story, and calling it a romance is even a little bit of a stretch, especially if you expect a standard romance ending. Instead, this is a very character driven story.
The narration is entirely from Landon's point of view, and a lot of time is spent building Landon's world and getting to know him. Indeed, it's well into the second half of the book before we meet the alien with whom he forms a kind of relationship. This might sound tedious but it isn't at all. We get a very detailed look into Landon's life in the military, and especially as a prisoner, with all the events that shape him over the course of the story. Some of the scenes may seem a bit irrelevant or even gratuitous, but they almost all come back to have meaning as the story evolves.
The Hush are an interesting antagonist. Their advanced technology has allowed them to forego sexual reproduction, something they now view as repugnant. Convinced of their own superiority, they show little signs of compassion or empathy, except for plants. Which brings us back around to the romance aspect of the story. The relationship that develops between Landon and his Hush keeper is unusual, to say the least. Landon understandably has trouble accepting that he is developing feelings for his captor and Hush frown on any displays of emotion so he doesn't really know how the Commander feels. He does know that he can't touch the Hush male.
The author describes this as a “enemies-to-lovers romance” and while that's not entirely wrong, it's a much more complex story than that tag usually implies. The enemies part is certainly true enough, but as I've noted, this doesn't quite fit into the normal expectations for a romance. That's not a complaint, but maybe a warning to expect a story rich in details and character development, rather than a sappy sex romp.
“Alien Heart” is available from Amazon.