Queen of Dust Cover
Title: Queen of Dust
Author: Heat: NSFW
Genre(s): Romance Sci-Fi Erotic Romance
Tropes: Enemies to Lovers Bodyguard Royalty Forced Proximity No Strings Relationship
Tags: f-m space bodyguard royalty colonialism
Where to Buy or Read:

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Synopsis from the Creator:

Anastasia meets The Bodyguard in this riveting, sexy science fiction romance about a seductress forced to guard her heart against the enemy soldier duty-bound to protect her

She should despise him…

Mara Leanor is the last of her kind—the last Balti temptress, a woman schooled in the art of pleasures great and small. She's waited years to return to her home planet only to find that Balti, once lush and beautiful, is losing its battle with the enemy occupation she despises. Harder to despise is Calvy D’Aldiern, the enemy captain turned bodyguard assigned to protect her, who seems intent on breaking down her walls instead.

He should detest her…

Cal has one shot at getting back to his unit: proving he can follow orders without doing anything stupid. Like falling for the woman slipping into his bed to take her pleasures and give none of her self. While Mara discovers how different Cal is from the rigid, self-righteous invaders, Cal confirms that a Balti temptress is impossible to deny.

Their desire threatens them both…

Caught in the planet’s tide of change, with his assignment rushing to its end and her people driven toward revolt, Cal and Mara must decide if their present matters more than her past and his future.

Review: Queen of Dust, by H.E. Dare

[fa icon="calendar"] Jun 28, 2023 9:27:47 AM / by Suzanne

I pitched this book to one of my reading Discord servers as "if Jessie Mihalik wrote erotic romance." I didn't mention that the FMC reminded me of Inara from Firefly, but that too!

Mara is the last Balti temptress, a wealthy woman from a destroyed and colonized planet and culture who's far more complex than anyone gives her credit for. She's been in a relationship for years with a man she trusts and relies on, but she comes to realize it's not love and that he's not the person she thought. When he leaves for a lengthy business trip, he forces a former soldier (and secret prince) in servitude to be her bodyguard and to provide her with sex.

The whole book is saturated with sex. It opens with something of a "prove how much you love me" public sex scene that Mara has to observe and then replicate the scene with Cal, the aforementioned bodyguard.

There are complicated politics throughout, with multiple levels of colonization and corporate greed, but it's Mara's efforts to reconnect with her Balti heritage that makes that plot so compelling. Some of the big reveals are obvious to the reader, but it's easy to understand why Mara wouldn't see the truth given the trauma bond she and Jerk Boyfriend had for years.

Dare also explores consent and sex, shame and freedom. This is a high heat book for sure and some of the dynamics aren't explicitly consensual. It's complicated, however, by the fact that the characters involved are genuinely attracted to each other and do want the sex. It's just the circumstances (sex bodyguard? Balti temptress who is expected to always be ready to engage?) that make things messy. Cal's culture is what I think of as Puritanical, driven by business interests and very repressed. He's not like that, of course. Mara's culture is all about pleasure in all forms. It was really interesting and the sex made me think.

In short, this is a very spicy sci-fi romance that will scratch that itch you have after you read Jessi Mihalik or watch Firefly. More spice, more romance, more direct acknowledgment of the impacts of colonialism.


I received a digital ebook copy of this book for review via NetGalley but read an audiobook via Hoopla.

If you'd like to purchase a copy of this book, please consider using one of these links to support the site: Amazon, Kobo, Libro.fm


CW: genocide (past, discussed quite a bit on page), imprisonment and hunger, worker abuse and indentured servitude, extractive production killing a planet, attempted sexual assault (MCs are attacked in an alley), sex-shaming (countered A LOT). There’s some weird consent stuff that made me go hmm but I feel it didn’t cross the line into yuck. YMMV.

Topics: review