Title: Freeing Luka
Author: Victoria Aveline
Series: The Clecanian Series (Book 2)
Publication Date: July 8, 2020
Synopsis: Luka has spent his life researching fertility in the hopes of discovering a cure for the Clecanians’ low birth rates. After years of working tirelessly with little progress, he becomes enraged when he uncovers a sinister plot to abduct compatible species from their home planets. But before he can tell anyone what he’s discovered, he’s captured, drugged, and thrown in a cell.
It’s just Alice’s luck that when she finally begins to get her life on track, she’s kidnapped by reptilian creatures and forced into a cell with a fierce incoherent alien for some kind of breeding experiment.
Even though they aren’t able to communicate, Alice and Luka find solace in each other’s company. As the days drag on, it becomes harder to keep her heart locked away, until she can’t help but wonder what a life with Luka might look like outside their dark prison. When an opportunity to free herself, Luka, and the other human prisoners presents itself, Alice takes it.
Once free, can Alice and Luka’s tenuous relationship survive on this planet? Will the evil men that held them prisoner ever see justice? And can they play a part in the rescue of the other women being held captive around this strange new world? Alice knows only one thing for certain—her life will never be the same again.
The second book in The Clecanian Series, Freeing Luka is an immersive sci-fi romance with well-developed characters and vivid world-building. It begins when Alice is kidnapped and imprisoned on an alien planet for breeding purposes. The Clecanian men outnumber the women 20 to 1, and a deranged scientist uses his victims for reproductive experiments. Thrust into a new world and forced to interact with Luka, a hunky imprisoned alien who can’t understand her, Alice fears she’ll never escape. She must also face the undeniable attraction she feels for Luka and the possibility that she is his mate. Can they escape their imprisonment, and, if they do, what will happen to Alice and Luka?
The two main characters, Alice and Luka, are dynamic and well-developed. I love Alice! She is smart and courageous even when faced with unfathomable obstacles. She is also curious and diplomatic. Her selflessness when imprisoned with Luka and her patience when befriending the other imprisoned women is admirable, as is her determination to free them. I love her fighting spirit and compassion. Here is how she describes Luka while they are imprisoned:
If there was ever a creature in more need of help and tenderness than Luka, she couldn’t imagine it.
Luka is a fighter as well. Even when wounded and abused, he still fights to protect others. Beaten and betrayed, Luka refuses to break and remains honorable and strong even in his worst moments. Being imprisoned with Alice, his mate, helps maintain his sanity and gives him the strength to survive.
Now, as much as I love Alice and Luka separately, I love them even more as a couple. He is a scientist, and she wants to be a veterinarian. Their mutual love of nature and all living things brings them even closer together. I love how much Luka tries to please Alice and understand what makes her happy. He takes her on picnics, introduces her to beautiful wildlife, and more. Though their love story started while imprisoned, their bond is clear from the start, and even when abused and drugged, Luka strives to connect with and protect her. It is clear that they have a strong bond and deep respect for each other.
His mate didn’t need gifts or flattery. If support and freedom were what made her smile and glow like this, he’d do whatever it took to quell his possessive instincts.
Luka knows that Alice is strong, resilient, and brave, and he loves seeing how happy she becomes when he supports and encourages her goals and desires. He sees Alice as his equal and his savior. I love this! (And I think Alice does too!) Plus, their chemistry is fantastic, and there are plenty of swoon-worthy moments for this couple.
Another aspect of the story that I like is the commentary on society. The leaders of Clecania are progressive and supportive of their new inhabitants. Eager to welcome the human females into their world, the Clecanians (for the most part) learn more about the humans – their world, their likes and dislikes, their cultures, their families, and more.
The world-building in Freeing Luka is as deftly developed as it is in Choosing Theo. In this book, Aveline describes the planet with vivid imagery and sensory language. I could easily visualize the new creatures, plants, and other elements of nature that Alice and Luka traversed as well as the temple where Alice meets the Queen and the homes of several characters. Customs, traditions, jobs, and politics are also detailed and interesting.
The Queen is another fantastic addition to The Clecanian Series! She is wise, kind, and introspective. She is astutely aware of the benefits of having the women remain on Clecania, and she is also genuine and sincere in her desire to create a peaceful world where all species can cohabitate. The inclusion of a benevolent matriarchal leader is refreshing and reinforces the theme of female empowerment that is at the forefront of this series.
With new additions to their world, life is changing, and the Clecanians are becoming more aware of their antiquated beliefs and practices. As more humans come to their planet with different beliefs and customs, society changes and grows, and the leaders encourage it while still maintaining their most important traditions. I like their willingness to accommodate and communicate. The Queen invites the human women to be part of the decision making, especially when it comes to decisions that could affect the women’s futures. This says a lot not just about their political practices but also about their deep respect for all species and sexes.
I also like that we get to see characters from the first story. Updates on Theo and Jade (I just love them!) as well as several other characters from Choosing Theo make an appearance in Freeing Luka, and it was exciting to find out what happened to them after the story ended. New characters are just as interesting as those in Choosing Theo, and I can’t wait to see how their stories develop!
Many thanks to Victoria Aveline for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
- The romance, of course! Alice and Luka have a wonderful and sizzling relationship.
- The continued development of the world and its inhabitants.
- The social messages of female empowerment and equality. This is a matriarchal society, but some of their customs are antiquated. The leaders work to change that and accommodate all.
Freeing Luka is the perfect story for readers who love sci-fi romance. This is the second book in the series and can be read as a standalone. However, the first book in the series, Choosing Theo, is awesome, and you should totally read that too!