Fragile Bond - Rhi Etzweiler This review can be found at The Armchair Reader.

On an unknown planet, Sergeant Marc Staille is on a mission to clear a valley of deadly mindless predators so a battalion can set up shop and strip the planet of a valuable resource. Unfortunately, Commander Hamm Orsonna, one of the predators, captures Marc before he can escape. Except, Marc’s not just overpowered by the Commander, he’s pretty much incapacitated by the shear amount of pheromones the Commander unintentionally uses on him. What neither of them expected was the bond those pheromones created between them and how that affects their loyalty to their own people. The Commander just wants Marc to stay, even if he does cause a lot of problems, but Marc is more confused than ever especially when he realizes he wasn’t killing some random predators but a strange, slightly civilized intelligent feline race.

I really enjoyed this book for a variety of reasons. While I wouldn’t consider it technically romance, I loved the pheromones that shaped the bond between Marc and Hamm. I found it amusing but also sweet in how it could essentially cripple both men with desire, possessive and the need to protect. I loved that Hamm’s race, the furr, were so reliant on scents because of how they used their pheromones for attraction, fighting and dominance in their clan. However, while we get a feel for both men and their current situations, we actually don’t know them beyond the surface details.

The story is shaped around the humans invading Hamm’s world and how the furr must defend themselves against the humans. What it ultimately comes down to, however, is negotiations between the humans and the furr. This is one of those stories that take place in the span of a few hours and is heavy in clan politics and the almost hostile negotiations between the furr and the humans. It is an interesting world because the furr have feline characteristics like their thick manes, purring and roaring. I loved those parts, they always made me smile, because they were innocent yet dangerous. I also found Marc’s reactions to Hamm’s purring and roaring very entertaining.

With I really liked the story, I had a few issues with it. My biggest problem was a lack of detail on a lot of areas such as the world, Hamm’s clan, the culture and ultimately the relationship between Marc and Hamm. They form a strong bond but there’s no hint of intimate feelings from that bond so it was just based off Hamm’s pheromones without a deeper, mental connection between them. Aside from that, I found the ending very abrupt. We don’t actually know how anything is resolved or how the couple will live now. How Hamm was able to hold his position or even if he still has his position (I’m just assuming he does because it’s not mentioned otherwise). Also, what happened to Dehna, how is the clan coping with Marc, and a lot of other questions I have. Some parts of the epilogue also confused me. Mostly the reference to Marc healing from his wounds but what wounds and how he got them, I’m not quite sure so it left an impression that there were a few parts of the story missing.

Overall, I really enjoyed this story but its biggest downfall is the lack of details necessary to really love it. The writing is great and engaging and I adored the elements and conflicts brought on by Hamm’s pheromones. The secondary characters are enjoyable, and even the ones you want to strangle, brought entertaining quarrels to the story. I’m hoping Ms. Etzweiler visits this world again (a story for Reccin would be awesome!) so that we can go deeper into this world and see more of what it has to offer.