A high-stakes space opera that combines science fiction and romance, this debut young adult novel features plenty of action and a heroine whose unique brand of humor and tenacity make her easy to root for.
Delaney’s entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on earth in order to escape an arranged marriage. Kidnapped by the princess’ head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found.
If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race.
No pressure or anything.
Factor in Trystanthe princess’ terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secretsand her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head.
Chosen by readers like you for Macmillan's young adult imprint Swoon Reads, Chani Lynn Feener’s debut novel Amid Stars and Darkness is a thrilling space adventure complete with perfectly detailed alien planets and a super sexy secret romance in a sci-fi setting.
Praise for Amid Stars and Darkness:
"A thoughtful, sexy adventure with winning characters just begging for a bedtime read." VOYA
"Feener’s world-building is excellent, and readers will feel engulfed in the culture, politics, and technology." School Library Journal
"The focus on the growing relationship between Delaney and Ruckus will please romance readers." Romantic Times
"This debut makes for fun, fluffy reading." Booklist
Praise from the Swoon Reads community:
“This story was amazing! The character development, the romance, the tears, such an emotional rollercoaster!”Hannah B., reader on SwoonReads.com
“Aliens, sexy soldiers, romance, cliffhangers... guys this book has everything!” The Blonde Bookworm, reader on SwoonReads.com
“I absolutely loved it. It hooked me right from the beginning and I couldn't put it down. It had so many great twists and turns and I loved that I couldn't predict what was going to happen. I loved the characters and their development throughout the story.” Emmasgems, reader on SwoonReads.com
“A thrilling high-stakes read. From the very beginning I was sucked in and pulled along this intense journey filled with danger at every turn.” Ashley, reader on SwoonReads.com
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
"Do we really have to play this game?" Delaney asked, the question coming out halfheartedly. She already knew what the response would be.
"Come on," Mariana pushed. "I'm nervous."
"You're never nervous." The two of them had been friends for four years now, so she would know. "Besides, I'm terrible at this. You always win. Hence, why I'm here standing in line, waiting to get into a place I have no interest in."
"Don't be so dull, D." Mariana bumped Delaney's shoulder playfully. "Any time with me is fun time. Now" — her deep chocolate eyes homed in on a man standing five paces ahead of them — "us or them?"
Delaney made a big show of staring at the back of the guy's head before shrugging pointedly. "Us?"
Ignoring the fact that Delaney's heart clearly wasn't in it, Mariana pondered a moment before disagreeing. "Definitely a them."
"How can you even tell?" Because chances were very good that her friend was right.
"It's in the set of his shoulders."
"It is not." Or, if it truly was, Delaney couldn't see it.
The heavy thrum of music from inside the large warehouse building vibrated around them, the waves rumbling up through their feet. True to its name, club Star Light was a glittering beacon off the fringe of Portland, Maine. The building itself was made of faded brick, and had once been home to some sort of manufacturing company. That was many years prior, and it'd been renovated into one of the hottest dance clubs in the state about half a decade ago.
"Tell me again who you're hoping to meet up with?" Delaney asked as the line moved another foot closer.
Being that it was Friday night, it came as no surprise that the place was packed. A curvy stretch of people trailed from the two metal doors all the way to the start of the parking lot to the right. Because Mariana and Delaney had traveled the forty-five minutes from their small town, Cymbeline, to Portland earlier in the day, they'd snagged a prime parking spot in front of one of the buildings across the street. At least leaving would be easier. Too bad they'd spent so long at dinner that they hadn't gotten here at opening.
"I'm not hoping anything," Mariana answered, though her wide grin gave her away.
"Right." Delaney rolled her eyes jokingly. "That's why you're 'nervous.' What's this one's name again? Starts with an O? Owen? Otto?"
"Ottus," she corrected, a strand of annoyance slipping past her deep-red-painted lips. "Which you totally remembered. His name is Ottus. And you're supposed to be here for moral support. This is our first time meeting in person, and I want it to be perfect."
"Oat-us," Delaney sounded it out, and made a face. She remembered seeing the spelling of it flashing on Mariana's phone last week. It wasn't done in the traditional way; it was strange.
But of course it would be, considering Ottus was an alien.
It'd only been three years since the revelation of extraterrestrials. Apparently, they'd been visiting Earth for millennia, and no one knew quite why they'd decided to come out of hiding now, only that they had. After exposing their existence, there'd been talk of a merger, which of course the humans had protested. They'd attempted to fight, but their weapons were toys in comparison to the technology those from Xenith had.
"He's Vakar," her roommate said then, excitement brimming behind her smooth brown eyes. "He told me he used to be a soldier."
Mariana was obsessed with the aliens, who she'd dubbed Them. Like they were rock stars she couldn't get enough of. It was the one thing Delaney was looking forward to now that they'd graduated high school and moved into an apartment: separate rooms.
She loved Mariana, but she didn't share her interest in the otherworldly. Still, she was glad her friend was so excited to meet someone, even if he was an ex–alien soldier.
"And now he's a bartender," Delaney said, making sure the teasing lilt to her voice was apparent. "How impressive."
"Shut up." They moved less than a foot closer to the door. "If you'd just give him a chance, you would like him, I promise. But not too much. I don't want to share."
"I don't have anything against aliens," Delaney said for what felt like the millionth time. "I'm just not enthralled by them like you are. I'd prefer to go about my life per usual and pretend the invasion never happened."
Mariana was quick to defend them. "They didn't invade."
Done with this conversation, Delaney scanned her mind for anything else they could talk about. Literally anything. There was a bickering couple directly behind them, and for a moment their argument about whether or not waiting to get in was worth it was entertaining enough to hold her attention.
At this rate, they were never getting in and Mariana would never get to meet the bartender.
"Moral support, huh?"
"Yes," Mariana agreed.
"All right." She stepped to the side of the line. "This is taking forever."
Delaney ignored the six people who'd been standing in front of them, locking eyes with the bouncer. She'd watched him more closely over the past ten minutes and had noticed his bored expression and slouched shoulders. If she had to guess, he and his lack of enthusiasm were the main causes for the slow line movement.
Flashing a grin at him, she made sure to have his full attention before slipping a twenty from her pocket. Angling her body to keep the rest of the line from seeing, she held the bill out and motioned toward Mariana, who was still waiting in their spot.
"My friend is running late for a date," she told him. "Help a girl out?"
He was about three times her size and didn't appear to be the nicest of people, so she kept her smile firmly in place. He glanced between the two of them once before motioning Mariana forward with a finger.
Plucking the twenty from her hand, he absently asked for her ID, barely bothering to look down at it once she'd held it out.
She was a bit disappointed by that fact — the fake had cost her a decent amount of money, and using it had been the only part about coming to this club that had excited her. Then they were through the doors and Mariana swung an arm over her shoulder and they both laughed.
* * *
THEY'D SQUISHED THEIR way into the center of the crowd, relishing the flashing of neon strobe lights and the surrounding heat from the other patrons. It smelled like sweat and beer, and Delaney's ears were already burning from the heavy beat that thrummed from large speakers situated all around the rectangular room.
The dance floor was a large fifty-by-fifty square dais at the very center of the club. A single step led down to the rest of the place, with a bar lining the entire right wall, and booths and tables taking up the left and front. At the way back, a DJ station towered over the dance floor. A man with a bright pink Mohawk was currently spinning, his hair and teeth glowing.
The black lights painted the world in a mysterious radiance, turning everyday objects — like Delaney's Converse — into flashy items. The entire high-rise ceiling was covered in tiny glow stars of all sizes.
Despite her reservations, Delaney loved that she could disappear here, blend in and become just another cog in the universe. It was liberating in an odd way, one she couldn't quite place her finger on. Word spread quickly in a small town, and the town her parents still occupied off the coast of Maine was as small as they came. Not for the first time, she inwardly rejoiced at the fact they'd agreed to send her to boarding school.
She'd spent the past four years at Cymbeline Academy, a good two hours from where her parents lived. Just enough distance for Delaney to feel independent.
Mariana leaned in and screamed against the curve of Delaney's ear, "I'm going to get a drink!" They'd spotted Ottus working the bar when they'd entered, but Mariana had insisted they dance first, no doubt to build up her nerve.
"Are you sure?" Delaney asked. "Do you want me to go with?"
She shook her head. "I don't want our first face-to-face to be with a third wheel, no offense."
Delaney held up her hands and kept dancing. She spun as her friend disappeared among the masses, and Delaney twisted her hips and waved her arms to the heavy thrum. The song changed and she loosened up, switching tactics with ease.
The crowd moved in on her, caging, and she laughed when a boy around her age made a really bad robot move to get her attention. He fell into step with her and they swayed to the beat, close, but still far enough apart for it to be appropriate. Another three people turned toward them and joined, two of them girls.
She didn't know how many songs passed with them, but when she realized it'd been a while since Mariana had gone, she waved at her new friends and stepped back to go find her.
For a moment there she'd been able to distract herself with the music, but now enough time had passed that she was starting to get tired. Mariana was the partier in their equation, with Delaney merely dragged along for the ride every once in a while.
Stepping down from the dance floor, she scanned the bar, which stretched across the entire wall, easily spotting Mariana in her red outfit.
Sure enough, she was leaning across the white bar top, laughing at something Ottus had said.
He was all height and muscle, hair a mix between blond and brunette, depending on which way he turned his head. He'd shaved it so that there wasn't much to see anyway, making it even harder to correctly guess the shade.
The two of them had connected on one of the many dating apps Mariana used. The apps helped connect humans and aliens who were looking to get to know one another better, so it wasn't too big of a surprise that Delaney's best friend had signed up.
With a shake of her head, she decided to walk over and let her friend know she was leaving. There were enough people there that she had to move through the throng cautiously, but she'd only made it a few steps before someone slammed into her from the side.
She almost lost her footing, and instinctually reached out, grasping on to the other person's arm. Once steady, she glanced up to find herself staring at one of the most beautiful girls she'd ever seen.
They were about the same height, with the same narrow shoulders and long legs. The other girl's hair was even cut practically the same length, to just past her chin. That was where the similarities ended, however. Where Delaney's hair was a vibrant red, this girl's was inky black and slick like silk.
"Are you all right?" Delaney asked, pulling back and straightening.
The other girl stared at her oddly for half a second before the lost, distracted expression on her face suddenly morphed into a large smile. It was almost a bit creepy how wide it was, and Delaney instantly distrusted it.
"I'm perfect," the girl said in a high voice. She reached out and rested her hand on Delaney's left shoulder, squeezing lightly. "You have a fantastic night."
"Um" — Delaney turned as the girl went to step by — "yeah, you, too."
The girl was swallowed back up by the crowd. She hadn't even apologized for walking into her. Suddenly Delaney was completely drained. The music was too loud and the air was too stifling with all these people. Deciding she'd definitely more than done her best-friend duties, she turned back toward the bar where she'd seen Mariana only a few minutes before.
Only Mariana was no longer at the bar. Neither was Ottus.
Frowning, Delaney pulled her cell phone out of her back pocket. There weren't any messages, so she tapped Mariana's number and lifted the phone to her ear. It was hard to hear anything over the music blaring from all directions, but she was calling mostly so that her friend's phone would ring long enough to get her attention.
As it continued to ring in her ear, Delaney moved toward the exit, eager to get out of the throng. Outside, the air was sharp, and she sucked in a deep, chilled breath. It was close to one in the morning, and the line they'd waited in earlier was gone. There weren't many people out, just one or two smokers tucked against the brick siding by the door.
She turned away from them, heading in the direction of her car.
Mariana's voicemail picked up, and Delaney decided to give it one more try. After that she was going to resort to texting and waiting in the car. They'd driven together, so she didn't want to leave without knowing where her friend was and if she'd need a ride or not.
Knowing Mariana, the answer to that was the latter.
Just as Mariana's voicemail picked up again, Delaney's phone dinged. She paused at the entrance to an alley between the club and the equally large brick monstrosity next to it. Her car was visible on the other side of the street, directly under a streetlamp, so she could easily see within. It was empty.
She moved her attention to the screen and sighed when she saw the text message was from Mariana. Her friend let her know that she'd grabbed a ride with Ottus and was heading back to his place for the night.
Mariana had ended the text with a kiss emoticon and a winky face that had Delaney rolling her eyes and laughing at the same time.
Relieved that it meant she could now head home without worry, Delaney went to take a step forward, checking both sides of the street for oncoming traffic.
Before she knew what was happening, a heavy hand slammed against her mouth, yanking her back against someone's solid chest. She dropped her phone and, in her shock, watched it ricochet off the cement ground.
It landed on its back, so that the smiling image on her home screen of Mariana hugging her was the last thing she noticed before being tugged into the dark alley.CHAPTER 2
Delaney couldn't tear her gaze away from the phone as she was dragged back into the dark crevice between the club and the closed restaurant at its right. The sky was practically black overhead, and the second they were in the shadows, her brain finally registered what was going on.
Her struggling increased, and she shook her head back and forth to try to dislodge the hand on her mouth. The arm around her waist tightened, almost to the point of pain, and she was pressed flush against her captor.
"Stop it, Lissa," mumbled a deep male voice directly above her. "We need to go."
She tried to tell him that he had the wrong girl, but she couldn't even manage a muffled word past his hold. Frustration welled, and she took a stuttering breath to clear her head before reacting. Slamming her foot down on top of his, she dropped to her knees when his grip momentarily loosened, not waiting for him to regain his composure.
Twisting around so she was sitting on the cold ground, she kicked out with both legs, landing a blow to his stomach. It felt like she was hitting a rock wall. Flipping onto her feet, she bolted for the alley opening.
A growl sounded at her back, and right before she was about to make it into the light, she was grabbed again. This time he lifted her off her feet, letting out pained grunts when she repeatedly kicked him in the shins. He didn't loosen his hold again, and instead shifted her weight to his side.
He carried her as if she weighed nothing, toward the end of the alley and farther from the front of the club and any semblance of safety. His shoulders practically blocked out the building behind him, and she had to tip her head all the way back just to maintain eye contact. He wasn't bulky by any means, but he was fit and, judging by that kick she'd given him earlier, steady as a damn tree.
Which meant that the five measly self-defense classes she'd let Mariana drag her to weren't getting her out of this.
"I'll scream," she threatened, not really sure why she was telling him instead of doing just that.
"Then I'll silence you."
He dropped her suddenly and slammed her back against the frozen stone wall. His body settled around her, effectively pinning her in. Her head didn't even come up to his chin, but a couple of inches lower so that she was staring at the top of his chest. When she pressed her hands against him, he didn't budge, and there wasn't enough room for her to attempt kicking again.
She waited and, when nothing happened, risked glancing up at him.
"What's wrong with you?" he asked her, suddenly breaking the silence. His brows were creased, and he was inspecting her like he would an unruly animal.
"With me?" Her voice was incredulous. "I'm not the one who just kidnapped someone, buddy."
"I told you, it's time to leave. You're the one who's making this difficult."
"I'm the one —" She stopped, shoved down the fear, and held up her hand between them. "Okay, let's start again. First of all, dragging someone into an alley against her will constitutes kidnapping. Second of all, you also happened to kidnap the wrong person."
"We don't have time for this."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Amid Stars and Darkness"
Copyright © 2017 Chani Lynn Feener.
Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When I first saw this book and read the synopsis, I had no idea what I was getting into. This story surpassed any expectations that I had when I picked it up off the shelf at Barnes and Noble. I could not put this book down. The characters and the plot were interesting. The ending left me squealing and I could not wait for the next book in the trilogy to be released. This book has remained in the back of my mind for months. If you want a new, sci-fi twist on a traditional love-triangle teen romance, this is definitely your cup of tea!
I loved this book! It's a fast paced adventure with romance and high-stakes! I can't say enough good things about it!
Amid Stars and Darkness is an enjoyable science-fiction novel. It mixes lots of romance with a touch of suspense in a story where aliens regularly visit Earth and a human girl is forced to experience life on an alien planet first hand. When Delaney is mistaken as the alien princess, Lissa Olena, from a neighbouring planet, she is forcibly removed from Earth by Olena's bodyguard. It's one thing to know aliens walk around on Earth, Delaney's even met a few, but it's very different pretending to be their princess. She will have to convince everyone she is Olena - even Olena's betrothed - if she is to prevent a war. Every so often I have the desire to read a really epic fantasy or sci fi. Something that transports me to a vivid place far, far away. Amid Stars and Darkness certainly captured my attention. I enjoyed disappearing into its pages and the world building was good, even if I would have enjoyed seeing a lot more of the society, culture, and landscape of the alien world. The alien world is actually quite familiar to our Earth. It makes it easy to recognise, different enough to feel 'alien', but is ultimately very similar. Technology is more advanced, but no more than something Tony Stark might carry with him. The alients are all physically and anatomically the same as humans, and while they have different names for ranks and roles, most are parallel to those on Earth. There are also no changes in gravity or atmosphere. Food, animals and plant life were the things that were slightly different but all had reference points to earthly things. Actually, this book sometimes felt a little like Stephenie Meyer's The Host and it does share a few similarities - a girl with another girl's face and identity, two guys, one seemingly the enemy the other a nice ally, and, despite the universe being much bigger than originally known, a restricted setting. Delaney is a strong female character. Unfortunately she is surrounded by domineering, overbearing, egotistical males. Urggh. There are few other female characters and none who come across as strong, intelligent females. Delaney is compassionate, unafraid to speak her mind, physically capable of defending herself, intelligent, and kind - something everyone around her notes as a vast difference from the real Olena. Also, everyone is physically beautiful in this book. Sure, the aliens might have some genetic differences, but I would have liked a reason for them all to be tall, gorgeous, and strong! I did find a few things were a bit too convenient, like absentee parents. Amid Stars and Darkness has a very mature or new adult feel. Delaney lives independently, and while it's said she attends boarding school, it could have easily been university or college. The content level is also fairly mature, which is fine, it just means I won't be able to promote this to all our teen readers. This book lost points almost immediately for using "being that" to start a sentence a few pages in. And then it happened a few times more. I hate this phase, which is not correct or formal language and has no place in a well-edited book. Sorry, rant over now. The book ends with a cliffhanger, but I've got to say that I was happy about this because if the book continued in the way it was ending, I would have been very unhappy. Far too tidy and domestic for my taste. The romance plays a big part in the story. I hope that the next books in the series will enable readers to explore more of the culture and politics.
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Amid Darkness and Stars by Chani Lynn Feener Book One of the Xenith trilogy Publisher: Swoon Reads Publication Date: July 18, 2017 Rating: 2 stars Source: ARC sent by the publisher Summary (from Goodreads): Delaney’s entire world is thrown into chaos after she is mistaken for Lissa Olena, an alien princess hiding out on Earth in order to escape an arranged marriage. Kidnapped by the princess’s head bodyguard, Ruckus, and imprisoned in an alien palace, Delaney is forced to impersonate the princess until Olena can be found. If she fails, it will lead to an alien war and the eventual enslavement of the entire human race. No pressure or anything. Factor in Trystan, the princess’s terrifying betrothed who is intent on unraveling all her secrets, and her own growing feelings for Ruckus, and Delaney is in way over her head. Get lost Amid Stars and Darkness, in this YA sci-fi romance from debut author Chani Lynn Feener. What I Liked: Dear Lord, please grant me the patience to deal with the Swoon Reads novels I keep subjecting myself to. Don't get me wrong, there are a few that I've really enjoyed (namely, Cindy Anstey's books). But so many of Swoon Reads' publications have been terrible (for me). In this story, Delaney is mistaken for an alien princess and she is dragged onto a ship and flown across the galaxy to another planet. On the way, the bodyguard who kidnapped her realizes that she's isn't Lissa Olena. But the damage is done, because Lissa Olena has been expected back at the home planet for quite some time - rumor has it that Olena has been running from her politically arranged betrothal. Delaney will have to play the role of Olena, convincing everyone including her terrifying fiance Trystan that she is a conceited, selfish princess who cares about no one. If she doesn't, she risks the alliance being called off by the Rex (Trystan's father), and war breaking out between the Vakars and the Kints. Okay. I don't have a ton of things that I actually liked, but there are a few. I didn't really care for any of the characters except Ruckus, who is a sweetheart. He is the commander of security and Olena's personal bodyguard, and he takes his duty very seriously. Everyone hated Olena and couldn't stand to be around her, but he did his job. Ruckus is an smart, loyal, protective alpha male who is also kind and attentive. And he has a charming side. I liked him a lot and was really on board with him being the love interest. For the most part, I wasn't bored or disinterested in the story. The plot moved at a good pace and I wasn't in danger of setting this book aside. I read this one fairly quickly and was interested in finding out what would happen at the end. So I have to give the author points for that. What else... I suppose the world-building is well-written. This book is set on a different planet, and there is a love of technological advancement on the Vakar planet. Also, everyone except Delaney is an alien, which is cool. There are a lot of neat scientific inventions and advancements in this book, though I would have loved to see more science behind them. Aaaand we're moving on to dislikes. What I Did Not Like: I'm going to go a little out of order and all over the place with my dislikes. I'll start with the ones that bother me the most. Read the rest of my review on my blog, The Eater of Books! - eaterofbooks DOT blogspot DOT com :)
Amid Stars and Darkness is a fun read about a girl who gets abducted by aliens when she’s mistaken as their rogue princess. I shouldn’t really say mistaken though, because it’s not some doppelgänger type thing. The princess actually had some high-tech device that allowed her to alter a person’s appearance to her own. So, when she needed to give her royal guards the slip, she used it on Delaney without anyone realizing what had happened until it was too late. Unfortunately for Delaney, the Princess is betrothed to a prince from another planet, a hostile planet that would like nothing more than to have an excuse to eradicate both her kind, and the human race on Earth. It’s up to Delaney to keep up the facade until the guards are able to locate the real Lissa Olena on Earth and bring her back home. The only problem is, there are a lot of extremists who don’t want to see this alliance made, one of which is the princess’ own betrothed. Amid Stars and Darkness is a light read and doesn’t get too heavy in the sci-fi aspect. There are a few cool things that take place like witnessing a specific creature or some of their technology but this isn’t really a sci-fi novel. It’s more of a light fantasy romance. You’re told that they are aliens and that Delaney’s on another planet but it all felt normal. Everyone was a humanoid, and a lot of the customs and living settings were the same as with humans. Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, I don’t tend to like a lot of sci-fi novels that dive deep into the unknown because I end up getting bored with all the descriptions. However, I would have liked if the author made the aliens, or their planet a little bit more distinct and separate from Earth. I honestly kept forgetting they were supposed to be on a different planet. There was a bit of mystery and suspense what with Delaney always nearly getting assassinated at every turn. You’re never quite sure if it’s her betrothed, some group of radicals, or possibly someone in her own group. I liked that the author always had you guessing and second guessing who could be behind the attacks. Not to mention, she also wrote the princess’ betrothed, Trystan, in a manner that always made you wonder if he was as dangerous as you’re led to believe. Amid Stars and Darkness was a fun read. It was a lot lighter on the fantasy/sci-fi aspect that I would have liked but I still found myself wondering what would happen next and whether or not Delaney would ever make it home. This is the first book in a trilogy, so there’s more to the story. So who knows, maybe Delaney gets to grow old on Earth or maybe she has to stay on the alien planet. I can’t wait to see what the author has in store for the characters next.
I wasn't sure what to expect with this one, but it was pretty interesting. I loved Delaney. She's sassy and strong and smart. She stands up for herself and knows how to defend herself and I was really entertained by reading her go through this. Ruckus and Trystan are both interesting characters in their own ways. Plot wise, it's pretty fast paced. It's starts off with a bang and doesn't quite let go. There are explosions and gun fights and swoons and sweetness and banter for days. My only real complaint is that the ending is a horrible cliffhanger. If I would have known that, I probably would have waited to read it. Overall, this was an intriguing read with characters I really liked. I can't wait to read the next one. **Huge thanks to Swoon Reads for providing the arc free of charge**
I’m not sure what I expected from Amid Stars And Darkness but this book was a very pleasant surprise. Although that ending was pretty cruel. I actually think that this book would make a pretty good movie, the pacing and the plot would lend themselves incredibly well to an adaptation. Amid Stars And Darkness begins on Earth but quickly moves into outer space as Delaney is mistaken for an alien princess and forced to return to the Vakar homeworld. Once there, she is forced by the Basileus and the Basilissa, the king and Queen, to imitate their daughter Olena until she can actually be found. Add in Trystan, Olena’s fiancé who hates her, the possibility of an interplanetary war if she slips up, and assassination attempts and the stakes are incredible high for Delaney. I thought that the story was pretty engaging, the pacing was well-done and I was never bored. There was a nice mix of action to advance the plot and more verbally-based scenes to develop the world. I did find the world-building a little bit lacking though. I was left with a lot of questions about the history and culture of both alien races. However, the author did a good job explaining everything that was relevant to the story, I just prefer a little bit more backstory and context than was given. Delaney herself was a snarky and strong-willed main character. She didn’t always think things through all the way but, considering she was on a different planet and way out of her comfort zone, I can understand that. I liked that the author included scenes where Delaney broke down or admitted her fears/weaknesses. It made her easier to relate to because she felt like a realistic character. I actually wasn’t a fan of the love interest but I can see the attraction. This may sound odd but he was too perfect. I wanted Ruckus to be more realistic, more believable. Even their relationship, which was entirely forbidden, didn’t have any challenges, fights, or misunderstandings. Their relationship didn’t have enough depth to feel realistic to me. While I didn’t like Ruckus, I loved Trystan. He’s such a morally grey and confusing character. While he’s set up as one of the antagonists in this book, I loved how his character developed and his interactions with Delaney. He’s definitely dangerous but I can’t help but think there’s a lot more to him than was revealed in this book. This was an excellent debut and I definitely plan on continuing with the series (Even if I didn’t like it, I’d continue only to solve my curiosity regarding that very evil cliffhanger ending). I sense that future installments are going to be ever better than this one. *Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
I really enjoyed Amid Stars and Darkness. When Delaney is accidentally kidnapped and taken to an alien home planet, she's understandably confused, frightened, and wondering how she's going to get back home. When she finds out she has to pretend to be the alien princess, well, she doesn't take that too well. But that's not all (of course) the princess is supposed to get married soon to seal an alliance for peace, and Delaney needs to convince the world, the court, and "her" fiance that she's really Princess Olena or the whole alliance could fall apart. No pressure or anything. The set up was great, most of the characters were great. I wanted to see more of the alien court, the kind and queen, the guards, the nobles (if they had them). I understood keeping Delaney isolated to make her impersonation easier, but it left the alien world feeling a little flat. I also couldn't keep the various factions and alien terms straight - and they played an important part at times. There were not many, but the important ones were introduced all at once so they kept getting switched around in my head. Ruckus, the princess's bodyguard, and leading male character was amazing. A bit of the strong silent type, he played off Delaney's talkative and bold characteristics very well. Their romance was a bit underplayed though. I wanted to see more bonding in some way. A great story, it's perfect for people who like a little bit of light sci-fi in their stories, but there's just enough for more hardcore sci-fi fans to get into as well.
Fabulous This is the introduction to a sensational concept with outstanding characters. There isn't a boring moment throughout the story. Marvelous! Three years ago, aliens visiting and living on earth revealed themselves to the humans. There are two kingdoms on the planet Xenith. The Vacars and the Kints. The aliens are allowed to stay on earth for five years to experience the culture but there are some who settle. The kingdoms have been in conflict but, have now agreed to a peace treaty. With conditions! Delaney has just graduated from high school and looking forward to her new venture. She shares an apartment with her best friend Mariana. Ruckus is the bodyguard to Lissa Olena, the Vakar princess. She is the most hated person on the planet. She has spent her five years on earth and being royalty, she doesn't have the option of staying. She has to return to do her duties but, she has no intentions of going back. Not that she has a choice! Trystan is the prince and heir to the Kints. He is betrothed to Olena by arrangement as the condition of keeping the peace. They can't stand each other but, have to do as they are told. Mariana is eager to go to this nightclub to meet her alien boyfriend. Delaney reluctantly goes with her and when they are separated, she decides to go back home. They keep each other informed of what they are doing. Delaney has a strange encounter before exiting the club and when she is outside, she is kidnapped. Mistaken identity? She puts up a fight but, she is no match for her abductor who doesn't believe that she isn't Olena. Ruckus knows that there is an impending attempt on Olena and as her bodyguard, her safety comes first. Delaney wakes up on Xenith and this is where she realises that she no longer look the same. Oops! Ruckus knows that he has made a mistake and can't afford for this to leak as it will definitely spark off the war which will have a drastic impact on earth. They decide to keep it amongst a selected few and convince Delaney to play along until they find Olena. Despite her apprehensions, knowing what a war would do to the humans, she agrees. She doesn’t have a clue about the Vakars' way of life and Ruckus is only too willing to assist. It shouldn't be too difficult. He has a good personality and looks like a runway model. He is impressed by her personality, which is the complete opposite to Olena. She is quick witted, strong and compassionate. Unfortunately, Olena's reputation is well known and there are many who want to get rid of her. Especially, the Tars, a group of rebels who want to stop the wedding that will tie the Vakar to the Kints. When Trystan pays Olena a visit, he notices the subtle changes in her. Could her stay on earth have done some good after all? He is no fool and very observant. There are times when he gives the impression that he knows what's going on. Little tests about her likes and dislikes! Ruckus and Delaney become enamoured even though, it's the wrong thing to do. Trystan wants to explore the new persona and he too might just be falling for her. She has already made up her mind about him after their first encounter. He has the looks of an angel but he is dangerous! All things considered, Delaney adapts to her role fairly well despite, the numerous assassination attempts on her life. She comes close on a couple of occasions. Will they find Olena in time for her to return home? What about this "thing" between her and Ruckus? Will Trystan put two and two
**4.5 Out Of 5 Stars** In a future world where alien races and mankind kind coexist, Delaney has no fascination with the aliens unlike most people. While out at a club with her friend, Delaney finds herself mistaken for someone else and next thing she knows she wakes up on an alien ship in outer space. With no idea how, she finds that she looks like the princess of an alien race and she is forced to play the role of princess to stave off a potential war. Delaney has no idea how she is going to pull this off, but it may be the last thing she does if she can't be convincing. This was such a good book, which I feel terrible saying this, but it surpassed any expectations I had (and to be fair, I was kind of neutral when I started the story, but I was swayed by the subject matter of aliens in outer space and the fact the cover is gorgeous!!). The story started fast and never let up, from the first chapter where Delaney gets kidnapped to the body of the story where Delaney is pretending to be a princess who has death threats, to the surprise ending that left me shocked. This was the perfect blend of sci-fi action, mystery, drama with a hint of possible romance and I just ate it up. Delaney was such a trooper, forced into playing a role as the run-away princess, looking different and stuck on an alien world where she is so out of her depth. And yet she persisted, and she did it with style and some kick-ass (those few self-defense classes really seemed to pay off). I liked her and I honestly was not sure what I was hoping would happen to her, I was so torn. Ruckus her kidnapper aka head guard aka confidant aka love interest had the tall, dark and handsome thing down pat. He was so dreamy and understanding I have nothing that I would change about him. That being said...I was super intrigued by Trystan. Keep in mind that Trystan is ginormous, handsome, intimidating, perceptive, arrogant, domineering, slightly evil... but I kinda liked him and I saw a few moments of a real person with depth peeking through and I liked what I saw (even though I have no idea what his intentions are and I am not convinced he is trustworthy). Now don't get me wrong, I lurv Ruckus, but I think there may be more to Trystan and I want to know what that more is. So sometimes I am super grumbly about finding out a book is a series, but in this case I am so glad that this is the first and I have two more books to go. The world is so complex and I feel like this book just barely started going into the details and I most certainly want more. Oh and the ending was a big freaking cliff-hanger that I found super shocking, and I am ever so desperate for the second book (and the third book too please!). There were so many twists and turn I could never have predicted. Chani was able to create a world, plot and characters that made me want more. I highly recommend this to anyone who wants a sci-fi adventure, as long as cliff-hangers don't bother you! I received this title in return for my honest review. Come visit my blog at http://smadasbooksmack.blogspot.com/ to take part in the book tour going on now