I am really not sure how to rate this so I settled on three stars. I love Mari and T'chai! Their story is five stars easily. The way he loves her, his patience, her relatable frustration, her devotion to him. I love those two and I love their story.
What I am kind of struggling with is how much I really don't enjoy most of these new Icehome characters anymore! I'm used to everybody being fundamentally decent even though they're flawed and make mistakes (Hassen and Bek etc) and the remaining characters...are really disappointing in behavior, words, and actions.
Everybody ganging up on the only literal child not named Z'hren at the camp because the men are fighting over her and it's easier just to get rid of the lonely, misbehaving child then the men - who are "worth more" because they hunt and are driven by testosterone and don't know how to control themselves. This doesn't really make me want to read a book where one of these men are the hero. Not at all. After books on books of them chasing a teenage girl and treating all the women like interchangeable holes?! They just want a woman and don't seem to care which. And throwing Daisy in to make the women even more off balance just seems unkind for lack of a better word? After being stranded on another planet and months of being treated like one of many any of the guys would be happy to settle for now they should all COMPETE with each other for one of these seriously horribly acting guys attentions? The way Atam is treating Bridget at the end is cruel and childish. And coming on the heels of how sad and confused and frustrated she was about him last time we read about her feelings it's sad to read. And I feel so sorry for whoever gets stuck with R'jaal. I don't know how he could ever convince a woman he really loves HER and not just HAVING a woman specifically at this rate.
Maybe it's just because life feels precarious and insecure right now in general with everything going on but I'm really surprised with how the side stories in this book made me feel. I felt deflated and drained by everything else about this book but the main couple. Which sucks because the main couple is wonderful.