Spoiler alert: If you haven't read the first book of this series, there's no way to review this installment without revealing key developments of the previous volume.
Having been sold by their captors to the Kríe king, Alec and his team have to adjust to life in the palace as “pets” of King Zercy, who has taken a special liking to Alec. The team captain is determined to fend off the king's advances while holding out hope of a rescue party reaching them. The problem is, the more time Alec spends with the heavily stressed king, the more he comes to empathize with him, and the harder it becomes to resist the king's persistent advances.
As already noted, this second book of The Nira Chronicles picks up right where the first one left off, so you need to have read that book first. Like that first story, most of this one is related from Alec's point of view, so we get a close-up view of his struggle to accept his feelings for Zercy, and battles with the dilemma of having to choose between his team and Zercy. It's pretty obvious that the two will get together sooner or later, but it's definitely a long simmer as the two dance around each other, growing closer and closer. It keeps you turning the page so you can see how the relationship evolves.
Alec still feels like something of a blank book, but he is nonetheless a very believable character as he struggles to resolve so many internal conflicts. He finds himself attracted to Zercy, but Alec has always felt he was heterosexual. Even if he might want to explore a relationship, the fact that he's a captive makes his ability to give consent questionable. Then there's his team. As captain, Alec strongly feels his duty of care to keep them safe and help them escape captivity, even if Alec ultimately might not want to.
We get to know Zercy completely through Alec. We get a very convincing picture of someone under immense pressure, which is no surprise once we find out the magnitude of the problems the king is wrestling with. It makes him a very sympathetic character, even given his treatment of the humans. Of course, if you have read the first book, then you'll be well prepared for the scorching hot scenes between Alec and Zercy once the inevitable happens.
The secondary plot line involves the rescue team, lead by Garret. They too have crashed, and had a run-in with the same pack of Kríe that captured Alec's team. With the help of another tribe, they manage to form an alliance to rescue Alec's team from the king's castle. Garret and his team seem like copies of Alec's team, and we really don't get to know them that well, but that's probably something that was supposed to be covered in future books. It must be said that while the main story line of Alec and Zercy reaches a satisfactory conclusion, there are a number of other loose ends left dangling regarding the other members of Alec's team as well as the rescuers. These presumably were going to be picked up in subsequent installments of the series although none have appeared yet.
There's been a definite kidnapped-by-aliens theme to a lot of my recent review selections. There's nothing intentional about that. You can probably blame Amazon recommendations for that. I found one book that sounded interesting, and so of course Amazon started recommending more. They've been fun reads, with some good stories, and there will almost certainly be more, but I'm also noticing a very common theme: in almost all the stories, no matter how or why the aliens come by their human captives, they view them as weak, practically useless or inferior beings. But then in what is often the main plot twist, the earthlings turn out to be the key to resolving some huge, life-threatening issue for the aliens. It's very much a variation of the old “white savior” trope, where humans somehow dominate older species because we're better than them. This is not new, and has been a fixture of popular science fiction for years. Star Trek is perhaps the most often used example, where Star Fleet operates out of San Francisco and is essentially managed by earthlings. Why?
This isn't really a complaint about this, or any of the books. In the case of this book, it might have been a lot harder to get to a satisfactory ending without it. The trope just feels like a level of hubris that is totally unjustified by today's culture.
“Zercy” is available from Amazon.