Sunday, October 30, 2011

Yarontanji by Mara Ismine

Yarotanji: A Dark Masters Story by Mara Ismine
Publisher: Torquere Press
Genre: Erotic, GLBT Sci-Fi
Length: 82 pages

Yarotanji enjoys being an elite agent with the Peace Keeper Task Force and spending his time moving from planet to planet investigating various potentially dangerous situations. He spends a lot of his time lusting after Asrayan, his partner for most assignments, on and off the job. Yarotanji likes his job and his partner, people trying to damage his person and unrequited lust aside.

But he has a very bad feeling about the new assignment he and Asrayan have been given. It should be a walk in the park compared to their normal assignments. And it is -- until things get complicated and those difficulties threaten his hard won friendship with Asrayan.

Yarotanji and Asrayan first appeared as secondary characters in the novel Smoke.


Funny how two people can work together a long time and still not know each other nearly as well as they think. Peace Keepers Yarotanji and Asrayan manage to surprise each other more than a little in Mara Ismine's Yarotanji.

The main characters played secondary roles in another novel, Smoke. More spies than warriors, Ji and Rayan, as they are mostly called, specialize in nipping problems in the bud. We get to go along on two missions, which are exquisitely tense in themselves and do not dump an entire Federation's worth of politics on us. The immediate problems are absorbing and well written, and do not rely on hand-wavy technology to solve. Keeping the missions on a local scale rather than threatening to entire planets is a good move from the author – the issues are within the scope of a two-person team but could grow if not caught early.

Ji has been interested in getting closer to Rayan, but Rayan's always insisted on maintaining a professional footing. Not knowing why, Ji torments himself with possible reasons, up to and including his mixed-species heritage. When Rayan does come across, it's not for the reasons Ji could wish for, and the greatly increased tension between them may send them to opposite ends of the galaxy.

The element of "not-human" exists subtly for Rayan – his emotions flicker across his skin, but not in any pattern Ji can read. Normally predictable, Rayan succeeds in stunning Ji both physically and emotionally. The interplay between the two is 'old-married couple' in one way and 'unresolved sexual tension' in another, leaving them whipsawed and out of sorts until Rayan does finally make up his mind.

The structure threw me a little; a creation tale in the beginning didn't feel connected with the events within the story, and seemed more to establish "not-human' characters and a relationship with the other novel than anything else. The end is told from someone else's POV, a main character from the other novel, and while it ties everything together, it creates distance from Ji and Rayan. With a little trimming, this would have been a completely stand alone story instead of an offshoot from another work, even with cameos from the other characters.

Still, the main story is a nice tight read, with well-told adventure and very engaging main characters, and I will be happy to read more from this author. 3.5 Marbles


  1. I have read this, but I Cannot Remember! which is driving me nuts. I vaguely recall liking it. May have to dig it up for a re-read....

  2. I really enjoyed this follow up to Smoke, as I became intrigued by these two characters then and wanted to know their story.


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