Sensuality rating: Explicit
"...Bold Journey is a truly outstanding story that showcases the power and creativity of Ms. Douglas’ imagination...With beautifully sensual and searingly hot love scenes, Bolden and Cené arean exquisite couple and their love and devotion is palatable...A fantastic addition to Ms. Douglas’s wonderful Star Quest series, I do not hesitate to add that this is my favorite...From the very first sentence until the very last Ms. Douglas takes the reader on a fabulous journey that should not be missed.
Reviewed by Larenda Twigg for TRSBlue
"...Bold Journey is a very fine addition to Douglas' StarQuest series. The hero is one of the next generation and a fascinating creation. Introducing a new world, Douglas builds a wonderfully imaginative setting for this alien romance."
Reviewed by Susan Mobley Romantic Times Book Club
"...A wonderfully detailed world filled with interesting creatures, Bold Journey takes you on a trip to other worlds and cultures."
"...The love scenes are hot, hot, hot and Bolden is yet another of Ms. Douglas' very sexy Miratans...It's a sensual story that will satisfy any reader looking for a terrific sci-fi erotic romance."
"...StarQuest 5: BOLD JOURNEY is a wonderful science fiction romance and the fifth book in Ms. Douglas's StarQuest series...The plot is creative, the characters dynamic. The desire between Bolden and Cené is intense, their passionate lovemaking sensual and erotic. Their love and devotion is so tenderly sweet your heart will ache - I was moved to tears...Kate Douglas has written a terrific story, one I would recommend to those who enjoy reading science fiction and are looking for something unique and out of the ordinary."
4/5 Stars Heat level: O
"...Bold Journey was beyond hot...I admit that I usually enjoy sci-fi/fantasy romances, but I think the StarQuest series is one of my favorites, including Bold Journey, its latest installment which can be read as a stand alone. The subplot involving a struggle between the Goddess and "Evil" was a bonus!"
Rating: 4 Flames
"...This is a wonderfully written story with enough detail that I could almost see the areas they traveled through. Really HOT sex scenes too! This is a must read for all sci-fi fans"
He was large and almost human, his golden eyes catching the light from the small campfire and sending it back to her in potent flashes of heat. She stood before him, a captive of his need as much as her own.
Swaying with the hypnotic dance of the flames, Cené slowly untied the laces holding the tunic closed across her small breasts. As she pushed the soft folds of beaded blue leather to her waist, she felt his presence in her thoughts.
Need. Want. Now.
A powerful yearning ripped through her soul, a sense that this alien creature was the mate she'd been promised in her dreams.
Cené examined him as intensely as he studied her. Sitting quietly, his long, muscular legs folded, ankles crossed, he followed her movements with the flickering glance of his eyes, the tight clenching of his strong jaw.
His need washed over her, a silent craving to touch, to taste-to mate.
Cené's knees almost buckled in response. She took a deep breath and prayed for strength.
Where was the familiar surge to her power?
Goddess? My Lady? I don't understand? Silence met her plea for answers. Breathing deeply, acting purely on instinct, Cené softly palmed her breasts until the dark red nipples budded into sensitive peaks. She felt his desire grow stronger.
Her pussy wept, her inner muscles contracted tightly against an imaginary penis.
A low growl echoed across the campsite. Startled, she glanced up. Hunger glittered in his amber eyes.
Empowered, she slipped the tunic down over her hips, standing naked in the flickering light. Her blessing bag, hanging from a woven thong around her neck, rested between her breasts.
Suddenly he stood before her, his broad chest heaving with barely repressed desire, his cock straining against the strip of leather covering his loins. His left hand reached out, the fingers long and broad, the nails thickened, sharp and oddly curved, reminding her of cat's claws.
He closed his hand around her blessing bag, compressing it lightly within his huge fist.
Something squeezed her heart. She faltered, gasped in surprise as much as fear.
His other hand encompassed her left breast, his thick fingers golden against the ebony depths of her skin. She moaned, unable to move away, barely able to breath.
He leaned over and kissed the sensitive flesh beneath her ear, then drew his unusually abrasive tongue across her jaw line. The rough texture left a trail of longing in its path. Cené twisted her chin to one side, allowing him better access to her throat. She heard him growl again, a deep, guttural vibration that rumbled up out of his chest.
The sound sent shivers racing the length of her spine.
His right hand still kneaded her breast, the other held her blessing bag, as if he held her life in his big, broad hand. His tongue, rougher even than the coiling tongue of the nightcats that roamed her village, scraped once more along her jaw line. She answered him with a cry of pleasure and a deep coil of wet heat between her legs.
Need. Want. Now
Was that his thought? Was it her own?
She moaned and arched against him, offering herself.
Suddenly, he opened his jaws against her throat, his sharp teeth inhuman, the long, pointed canines sinking easily into the tender flesh, sinking into the deep artery that carried her life's blood.
Tearing and rending, he bit savagely into her throat, ripping the blessing bag from her neck, his claws sinking into her breast until, with a final scream of agony, Cené awoke.
* * * * *
Bolden glanced at his solar receiver, noted the full charge and lack of messages, then turned and watched in disgust as the briding party swept down upon the unsuspecting village. He'd thrown in with this motley band of savages more out of boredom than need, but this vicious attack of theirs was way over the top.
Two years...it had been almost two years now, since his starship had been caught in some sort of space storm, tossed into this unfamiliar solar system, the craft too badly damaged to maintain life. None of the others in the small crew had survived. He accepted the fact that pure luck and the grace of the Mother had allowed him to access the only working rescue pod and make it to the planet's surface once he realized his friends were gone. He still didn't have a clue where he was, what sun warmed this planet.
Hell, he still didn't even know what this world was called. When he asked any of the indigenous population the name of the planet, they looked at him like he was nuts. “She has no name. She just is,” was the best answer he could get.
At this point, it didn't matter who these people were. He just wanted to go home, to see Earth again, and Mirat, to ease his parents' worry over the loss of their only son. As if that was ever going to happen. At least these humanoids had accepted him without too much difficulty. They'd been curious about his alien features, but appeared too dull and disinterested to be judgmental.
He'd ignored questioning glances his entire life. One of very few inter-special children born of Earth humans and Miratan lions, he accepted the fact he combined the best of both species-he was irrefutably male, with facial characteristics and the smooth skin of his mother's human race, the thick mane, retractable claws and long, rough, feline tongue of his father's people.
As a small kit, he'd wished he had a tail like Garan's-he'd settled for the physical strength and massive size of a lion in his prime. At least the aboriginals he traveled with had been greatly impressed. He bit back a chuckle, recalling the first time any of them had seen him without his loincloth.
He'd often wished they were more interesting companions, but after almost two years on this Mother-forsaken planet, he'd been desperate for anything even remotely close to human companionship.
“Not this desperate,” he muttered under his breath. The villagers didn't stand a chance. They fell quickly under the massive swords and battle axes wielded by the barbarians, their young women separated from family and friends and hauled off as prizes of battle.
Already, male bodies of the unarmed villagers littered the trampled ground as the remaining survivors scattered before the marauders. Screams of the captive women pierced the air. Triumphant shouts and curses added to the cacophony as briders fought over the spoils of war, roughly dragging the women from one man to the other.
Bolden held back on his pony, tugging at the corded reins even as the shaggy beast reared to join the brief battle. As much as he missed the warmth of a woman's arms, this was not the way Bold intended to find himself a mate.
No. Rape and savagery were not his way. He'd never needed force to bed a woman. Besides, he wouldn't need a mate here, not once he figured out how to get the hell off this damned primitive world and back to Earth. Lush and beautiful it might be, but it would never be home.
“Ho! Bolden!” Tarn, one of the younger warriors, called to him, pointing toward the sharp cliffs behind the village.
Bolden squinted against the sun's glare. There, near the top of the rugged white cliffs, he spotted her. Even from this distance he recognized a decidedly feminine figure scrambling up the narrow trail.
Tarn raised his sword and raced toward the base of the cliff. Seban and Jarde followed, their hunting cries echoing over the screams and shouts of a decidedly one-sided battle.
Disgusted by the behavior of the savages he'd ridden with, Bolden checked to be certain his receiver was well secured within his pack, then followed the three younger men. Possibly he could protect this one lone female from the lusts of the three warriors, maybe even help her escape.
Anything would be better than witnessing the rape of innocent women and girls.
* * * * *
Bolden grinned as he studied the single footprint in the sand. This chase had become a welcome challenge, one that brought him awake each morning with a sense of adventure he'd not known for many turns of the strange blue-toned moon orbiting this planet.
Seban had been the first to drop out of the hunt. Hungry and disgusted, he'd turned back on the trail in spite of the teasing from his mates.
Tarn might have remained had Jarde not broken his wrist in a fall. The brothers had reluctantly quit the chase just two days ago, leaving the field clear for Bolden.
They'd glimpsed their quarry only once in all these days, a dark sprite of a female scampering just far enough ahead to keep her pursuers forever scrambling for sign. Now Bolden sensed her drawing close, knew she had finally decided to face him rather than continue trying to evade his pursuit.
He might have started out on this quest with the best of intentions. He should have gone back when his companions abandoned the chase, but Bold couldn't bear to give up when his goal was almost within reach. He'd felt more alive while pursuing this woodland creature these past few days than in all the long months since he'd been marooned on her world.
Alive, yet strangely on edge in the darkness of the forested plateau. His dreams had taken strange turns, the nights pulsing with sensation and need such as he'd not experienced before. He shifted his tumescent cock within his loincloth, marginally aware he'd remained at least semi-erect most of the time since entering this silent forest. There was little birdsong and not much chattering of small creatures or stirring of insects to distract him...only the pursuit of one dark feminine nymph through the thick undergrowth, and the residual effect of nights filled with hauntingly sensual images hovering just beyond his consciousness.
Crouching low on the narrow trail, Bolden's mind opened to the gloating thoughts of the woman perched just above him. She carried a dagger. He sensed the steel, knew it was spelled and warded though he didn't recognize the power behind the spells.
There was other energy as well. Something he'd perceived before on this world, a feeling of some subtle omniscience beyond the mere thoughts of the inhabitants, almost as if the planet itself were alive. If only Garan and Jenna were here! His sire was much better at reading the shifts and nuances of psychic power and there was no creature known to exist who was more psychically powerful than his birth mother, Jenna of Earth.
The image of his parents flashed through Bolden's memories, leaving a lingering sadness behind. Would he ever see his family again?
Bolden put his questions aside and feigned interest in the trail below. He sensed his quarry drawing near, and prayed to the Mother he would know the moment before she struck.
* * * * *
Cené grasped the knife tightly in her fist and crept silently along the narrow ledge of rock to a point just above her target. She struggled to control her labored breathing, clenching her teeth and inhaling through flared nostrils rather than gasping for the oxygen her lungs demanded.
Swallowing her fear, she dropped to her belly and stretched out along the sun-heated granite to peer over the slightly raised edge of rock. She automatically fondled her blessing bag, tied about her throat.
Filled at her birth by a shaman of the village, the contents were known only to that holy man, dead these past nine years. Cené had not opened the bag. She would not dream of such a sacrilegious act.
The contents of the blessing bag could only be shared with her one true mate, her lifemate, should she choose one. Shared, and then added to, as her mate placed a sacred item of his choice within the pouch and tied it around his own neck.
Until that time it would keep her safe.
Safe! Ha...! How safe could a female be, alone in the Dream Forest, pursued by a randy male twice the size of any normal man?
Cené closed her eyes. Goddess, I beg you, give me strength. Aware of a subtle shift in her energy levels, she silently gave thanks to the Lady before continuing to inch toward the edge of the cliff.
There! Her quarry, hidden by the outcropping until now, balanced motionlessly on hands and feet as if to leap from the rock below hers, a huge predator searching the narrow trail beneath his perch, awaiting his prey.
If he only knew. Cené almost laughed aloud at her own audacity. Hidden just above him, she fought a growing desire to stand up and shout Here I am, you fool! Catch me if you can!
His prey had become predator, his victim, slight and feminine though she might be, empowered by the warded steel blade grasped in her hand and the blessing bag tied about her throat.
He'd trailed her through the Dream Forest for days now, his tenacious presence a constant threat to her freedom, pursing her by day, ruling her dreams with passion and fear by night.
He'd traveled with a small band at first, finally pressing on alone when the others had gone back. She must admire his persistence, if nothing else.
She'd been aware of his quest from the beginning, from the day almost half a moon ago when the vicious band of seasoned warriors raided her village.
Luckily, she'd been on her vision quest to the Dream Forest, the monthly journey taken by the single women of the village when their menses was upon them. Closest to the Goddess at that time of the month, it had always, in the past, been a time of peace and renewal.
Cené's dreams had been anything but peaceful. She'd started back early, wanting to ask the village shaman for a dream speaking, when suddenly, she'd heard them-shouts and screams, the strangled cries of battle. She'd raced down the narrow trail, almost reaching the village before she realized the nature of the attack.
Briders! The bride-hunting party was small but well armed. The men of her village hadn't stood a chance. In fact, from what Cené could tell from her hiding place on the trail, they'd been naught but cowards, practically throwing the young virgins at their huge adversaries.
Cené would not be the spoils of war. Her goddess gave the power of choice over to the woman. The thought of being taken forcibly by some barbarian had leant wings to her feet. She'd quickly scrambled back up the face of the cliff.
She'd almost made it. Almost, until the warriors spotted her. A shout had gone up. Those men without a woman thrown across the saddle had left their ponies and pursued Cené on foot.
Of the four, only this man remained. One relentless bastard among the entire band.
Fear had been her companion these past twelve days. Fear and loathing and the knowledge that if he caught her, she would never see her home again.
Not that there was much she'd miss. None of her family survived. She'd been alone for almost five years. She had few friends. The only good thing she could think of was the fact home was familiar.
Much as her persistent predator had become familiar.
Now, though, for the first time, Cené truly saw him. His shadowy presence had merely hinted at the man whose leonine majesty now stole the air from her lungs. Her breath caught in her throat-this was the same man who filled her dream time with passion-and terror.
Perched motionless on the trail below her, he reminded her of a sleek nightcat stalking its prey. His broad palms pressed flat against the hard packed earth, blunt fingers spread as if he prepared to leap. His toes dug into the ground, knees bent, one drawn forward almost to his chest.
Cené's gaze traveled over the taut muscles of his narrow hips and powerful thighs barely concealed by a simple loincloth. There was a leather traveling pack slung across his back. The long, tawny mane of wind-swept hair emphasized the breadth of his shoulders, the strength of his muscular arms.
His dark golden skin, burnished by sun and wind, glistened with the sweat of his pursuit. He turned slightly, and for the first time she saw the face of her enemy. Though his thick hair covered much of his profile, there could be no doubt. He was definitely the same man, the one sent by the Goddess to bedevil her dreams. She studied him closely-dark brows hiding his eyes, a strong jaw, the unexpected hint of a smile on full lips.
She touched her throat, felt the pulse where she'd dreamt his teeth had torn her flesh, and stifled an urge to flee, to escape deeper into the woods. Her fingers tightened on the leather-bound handle of her blade and she searched his face for answers.
Why did he follow? Why, when the others abandoned their useless pursuit, did he continue? Even more unsettling-why didn't she just slip away into the forest she knew better than any, slip away from this intriguing adversary who would take her freedom, her life, her very soul?
Caught between desire and fear, Cené hesitated a moment too long.
Suddenly, the man pushed up with those broad hands and sinewy arms, rising to his feet in a single, catlike leap to face her. In that one, brief moment, caught in the light of his amber eyes, Cené knew the battle was all but lost.
~ ~ ~
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