ROMANCE

Taji from Beyond the Rings

. 2019. 476p. ebk. ISBN 9780463072608. $4.99. lgbtq sf ROMANCE
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A child of farmers, Taji signed up with the powerful Interplanetary Trade Coalition (IPTC) for a chance to do what he loves: learn the languages and cultures of other worlds. His research is interrupted, however, when the translator for the IPTC ambassador on a nearby planet is killed and Taji is reassigned. He struggles to navigate the dangerous politics of his new job while quietly pining for the beautiful and powerful Trenne, head of the ambassador’s security detail. When Taji and Trenne are mistaken for an already bonded pair at a tense diplomatic gathering, they agree to let the misunderstanding play out, a fiction that swiftly gives way to reality as the story of their pairing gives them both permission to explore how much they actually desire one another. Yet they play a dangerous game—Taji’s willingness to be honest and bold about who, and what, he wants threatens an emperor whose power has been strong-armed, rather than earned.
VERDICT This sf queer romance includes some violence, as well as discussion and depiction of sexual coercion and abuse, but is overall fiercely joyful. It will be welcomed by fans of Cooper (Let There Be Light) and new readers seeking nuanced world- and relationship building.

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