Ketahn did not want a mate. Fate has a different plan for him. When the queen he despises declares her intention to claim him, he retreats into the jungle. What he finds there changes his world. Small, delicate, and pale skinned, Ivy Foster is nothing like the females Ketahn has known. She’s not of his kind at all. Yet the moment he sees her, he knows the truth in his soul—she is his heartsthread. And now that he has her, he won’t let anything take her away. Not the jungle, not the gods, not the queen and her warriors. Whether Ivy agrees or not, their webs are entangled. No one will ever sever those threads.
Warnings: alien sex, mentions of abuse, slut shaming, violence, sexual assault
Category: M/F, F/M
The Spider’s Mate is a trilogy of science fiction alien romance novels. As of this review, only the first two are out yet, which was incredibly disappointing to discover as I finished book two and rushed to buy book three. But while I wait for book three, let’s talk about the first two! If you like your alien romance to be more monstrous than your typical humanoid with green skin, this is a great one to consider picking up.
The story starts us off in Ketahn’s POV, which I found to be an absolutely great choice, as it immediately puts us into the mindset and viewpoint of a very non-human character. A great piece of xenoficiton, Ketahn is distinctly alien in ways that make this a very exciting read. Having the reader know that he’s going to eventually discover, and rescue, the human girl Ivy, but not knowing when that will happen and engaging with his story first before the human element is introduced, was a wonderful decision, and seeing human things through alien eyes was incredibly fun. The story is twofold- Ketahn’s background as a warrior who fought in a past war, and his complicated relationship with the Queen of the vrix is all front and center, but so is Ivy and the other human’s background as they left Earth and what they plan on doing once they find themselves stranded on an alien planet. The ways these two groups of people come together is how the story unfolds, first between Ketahn and Ivy exclusively, and then between the vrix and the humans in a broader capacity, and that narrative is very well fleshed out.
I was in love with Ketahn, who is a brilliant lead. His past a soldier, his trauma which flows into his present as a hermit, and his political struggles against the corrupt Queen who has a thing for him were all so well portrayed that I was instantly invested in rooting for him. He was such a darling, right from the jump, and I adored getting to know him. I also adored his friends and his interactions with them- there is some truly lovely banter and playfulness to all of them that I thoroughly appreciation. Ivy is a sweetheart too and emotionally engaging, but I will say that I think her backstory lays things on a little thick. Laden with abuse both from a past romantic partner as well as her parents, her backstory feels more like a caricature of trauma, while Ketahn’s feels more real. Nevertheless, she is a vibrant and bubbly personality in the story, and it is not hard to be invested in her present experiences, even if her past experiences as a little over the top.
The worldbuilding is pretty front and center, especially as Ketahn’s POV is the first thing we see in this story. The vrix society is lovingly crafted, as is the environment of the jungle planet in which the vrix live. I loved their civilization, and we get to see and know both members of their society that are non-conformists and loners, like Ketahn, as well as people living within the society and who represent more of a majority, which is a lovely way to showcase the broader world that this takes place in. That said, the details don’t always line up perfectly; for instance, the vrix appear to have a very matriarchal society in which the women are physically stronger and the ones who hold political power. Nevertheless, Ketahn also appears to have certain male-dominance centered ideas concerning the role of a male mate in a relationship. It seems odd to have Ketahn acting like Ivy should obey his word as her mate when vrix don’t seem to function on those pre-suppositions. Why do women need to be sexually dominated by their mates if they rule over them otherwise? Some of these things could have been explored much more, or just thought through a little better.
Finally an alien erotica that actually features an incredibly inhuman alien. I adored the sex in this book, it was full of the kind of tentative exploration that makes these kinds of narratives really come alive off of the page. Vrix are very spider-like in nature, hence the title of the series, bug-like and with multiple arms and legs. As two very different species, Ketahn and Ivy do spend quite a bit of time first avoiding admitting to themselves their growing attraction on the grounds that it would be wrong and unnatural, but as they finally come to admit that they want to move their relationship into a romantic and sexual direction they find they have a lot of discovering to do. I adored the way they both let their sexual curiosity drive them, learning each other’s anatomy and sexual expressions. Of course there’s also some very delicious domination stuff which, while I mentioned didn’t mesh perfectly with the worldbuilding, was incredibly hot to read. I loved Ketahn as an animalistic, instinct-driven figure, and the light spider-webbing bondage was lovely. This was a very passionate book full of emotion and sensuality and if you’re looking for very romantic, very raw and unbridled sex, this is going to hit that need.
I loved books one and two and have already pre-ordered book three! I highly recommend this one, even if parts of it are a little cheesy. It more than delivers in romance, in steamy domination games, and in the exploration of alien sexuality. There’s something undeniably hot about a man with more than one set of arms that can tie you up and just wants to ravage you, and my gosh this was everything I wanted it to be.
Have you read The Spider’s Mate? Let me know what YOU thought by leaving me a comment!