Jemm Aves toils for a mining company by day, but at night she is a successful bajha player, disguised as a male to compete in the violent underworld of the colony’s fight clubs. Every win puts her one small step closer to her goal: saving enough to escape Barésh with her family. When a royal recruits her to be a star player for his team, her ruse proves to be her most perilous game yet when it puts both their lives—and her heart—at risk.
Prince Klark is eager to reverse his reputation as the black sheep of the Vedla clan. If his bajha team can win the galactic title it would go a long way toward restoring the family honor that his misdeeds tarnished. On Barésh, he tracks down an amateur who has risen to the top of the seedy world of street bajha, offering the commoner a chance of a lifetime: a way off that reeking space rock for good. But his new player comes with a scandalous secret that turns his plans and his beliefs upside down. He sets out to win a very different prize—his champion’s reluctant heart.
The world of Barésh is convincing and vivid. The bahja (which I can best describe as sensory-deprivation fencing) matches are even more intense, whether in a bar, or a training exercise, or an emotional duel. I do wish we got to experience a few more in the professional arena.
Jemm is a treat. She's driven, kind, and not cowed by Klark. Her family relationships also feel authentic, and I love her interactions with her difficult brother.
Author site: Susan Grant
This recommendation by Lee Koven.
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