Instinctual is the second beautifully-written book in Auryn Hadley’s action-packed epic fantasy series chronicling the rise of the Iliri, a species bred by humans to be fierce protectors. Sal is the rarest of them, a full-blooded female iliri who will fight tooth, nail, blades, pikes, and shields to protect her dearest friends—also her comrades-in-arms and sometimes lovers-- and to free her people.
Now that Sal has won her place in the Black Blades, an elite special ops unit within the army of the Conglomerate of Free Citizens, she’s struggling to find answers about how to fit in with her new family. That’s a challenging assignment; it’s an all-male family of seven of the fiercest warriors in existence, all of them iliri with superpowers kept secret from humans.
Sal’s Black Blade commander and lover, Blaec, does his best to guide her, with the full understanding that she will eclipse him and that he must prepare her to do so. But his struggle is the opposite of Sal’s: he is only half iliri, and all-too-human. The salvation of the iliri race and the Conglomerate depends on his ability to walk in both worlds, and to guide Sal. His best advice: “Listen to your instincts more and everything will work out. Our entire culture can be summed up pretty easily. We do what is natural.”
For the matriarchal iliri, what is natural is that Sal is the undisputed leader of her pack. She makes everyone better; she especially makes everyone fight better. But why? When asked, they struggle to come up with a better answer than “She smells really good.” It’s an iliri thing.
Here’s another iliri thing that’s going to take a while for the humans to get used to: females were bred to be seductive; they possess the ability to make all males desire them, but they choose their men—typically at least two men. Though they may have as many as three or four in their harem.
Now, in this sequel to Hadley’s BloodLust, the secret is out.The world knows the Black Blades aren't human. And their largely independent unit must learn to fight alongside humans as the Conglomerate faces threats from the Emperor of Terric, who wants to exterminate the entire iliri species and is moving to conquer every country between his own and the Conglomerate. To stop him, the Conglomerate must rely on its best unit, composed of soldiers many consider less than human; and the Blades must rely on soldiers they were bred to regard as prey. It’s complicated.
But always exciting, as well as sexy, and action-packed. Women readers will thrill to the reverse harem idea that pushes the boundaries of epic fantasy in this groundbreaking series that may remind some of Avatar without the scary beasts; or even Game Of Thrones, but happier, with more color—and starring a dazzling female protagonist. Fans of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern will find Sal’s planet Ogun a thrilling destination for their next fantasy fix.
Oh, and by the way: This is a complete novel, not a cliffhanger. Also--because of the exotic sexual instincts of the illiri, it may not be suitable for humans under 18.