Though I was lucky enough to receive a copy of this book, my review is in no way influenced by the free receipt of this book.
An interesting book, we open to Dr. Cassiopeia Baros (Cass), her fiancée Dr. Julian Saunders (Julian), and several of their staff about to generate a Casimir Effect to create the only traversable wormhole known to mankind. Unfortunately for some reason things don't work, causing not only severe disappointment but also nerves, as everyone knows their funding will disappear in the blink of an eye. They have less than a week to fix things, all of the pressure resting on Cass.
After the stunning failure Cass takes off, eventually heading to see her therapist Louise to talk not only about the failure of her project but also to talk about her ever-present dreams. Dreams that happened so often they no longer even woke Julian when she had them. The dreams are always the same, a cavern which Cass recognizes though she's never been there, with chanting in the background, in a language that Cass doesn't recognize. But this past dream the night before had changed. In it she'd been in the cavern when someone spoke to her, calling her their queen. And she had looked into the face of the most beautiful man she had ever seen, except that he wasn't human. He had cat-like eyes and beautiful, long white hair.
Cass has Louise put her under, to see if they can make sense of the change in the dream. While under Cass comes to understand why generating a Casimir Effect had failed before. Julian finds her in the middle of the lab with parts scattered around her and grease on her hands, face, and lab coat. Though he is angry at her for disappearing since the failure the day before, he can't ignore her brilliance. He knows that though the project is "theirs" it is actually only Cass' in the design department, but Cass has no idea what Julian has done for her to secure their grant. And he wants to keep it that way for as long as he can.
After almost a full 24 hours of reworking the schematics, Cass is ready to run it again, this time knowing it will work. It works, all test coming back positive. The robot comes back showing that the atmosphere is almost the same as Earth's. It is time for the human team to go through, which is when the military team arrives & Cass finds out that all her funding was run from the military through MIT to her lab. She is shocked and feels betrayed by Julian who clearly knew about this long ago, but she buries her anger in the anticipation of finding out what her dreams have been trying to tell her all these years.
The party of twelve goes into the chamber in two groups of six, three scientists with three grunts. They arrive in a strange round rock chamber with no exits, but there is writing of some sort on the walls. One of the scientists begins work on deciphering it and when he touches one a door opens in the wall. They slowly move out to begin exploring, some worried, while others like Cass are thrilled. Cass was so excited everything worked that she didn't even notice the lack of pull from the wormhole on this end, something that flies in the face of basic and advanced physics.
While doing some basic exploring they come upon a room that holds a carving with a pool of crystal clear water at the base. The water is in constant motion gently spiking and eddying, catching the attention of the scientist in Cass. She is drawn to the water and feels compelled to take a sip. It is every bit as cool and refreshing as she expected it to be, with no immediate side effects. However she will collapse in a faint a short time later.
During all this Jeamon and his brajj team have been traveling from the city to the Sacred Chambers to meet the arriving queen. Unfortunately another group gets there first, and they arrive to find the queen and her party locked in battle with creatures known as the "inferiors." Luckily, the brajj arrive in time to assist the military with killing off the remaining inferiors. It is around this point that Cass faints.
Jeamon is utterly devoted to Cass, their queen. He'd had a vision of her before setting off on his journey to get her for Master. Master ruled the brajj and was thought to be the wisest, having lived hundreds of years;1 long before Jeamon was ever born. Subsequently it never even occurred to a brajj to question Master. As Master's right-hand man Jeamon had been honored above all others to be chosen to lead the party to bring back the queen. Which is why Jeamon is so conflicted when the queen awakes from her faint, only to see him and say "it's you" as if she too recognized him.
Jeamon fights his growing feeling for Cass as he knows she is meant for Master and the revitalization ceremony of Ta'mat, for Ta'mat is the source of all being for the brajj. Yet between Cass' behavior and his developing feelings Jeamon can't help but fall in love with their queen.
Aside from the main storyline of the attraction between Cass and Jeamon there are several other dynamics within the group. The question of how Cass can understand and speak brajj is a mystery to be solved. Julian's anger over Cass tossing him aside for Jeamon causes other problems, though Cass had already seen some of Julian's controlling side and wanted nothing to do with it long before Jeamon entered the picture. Not that Julian is willing to accept that. And the military team is suspicious of everything and everyone.
This story is fascinating. It begins a bit slowly, possibly because of the mundane location, but as the team arrives at the other end of the wormhole things pick up. The backstory has been built and the action begins. Very little is as it seems, and as answers are discovered you begin to see the true creativity that Ms. Patrick has infused this story with. The ending is nothing I'd envisioned or imagined, but it leaves plenty of room for the sequel, "Nightmares of the Queen." I wasn't particularly drawn to the story as described in the teaser, so I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I was drawn into the story to the exclusion of all around me, reading it cover to cover in one sitting.
(reviewed 8 days after purchase)