Book Review | The Orchid & The Lion
I definitely recommend this book if you're into queer erotica, a good mystery, a sprinkling of sci-fi, and some good, healthy views of sex work and kink.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I'm so glad I decided to pick this book up! I knew I was into erotic stories already, and while I'm not usually into the other genre this crosses into, I actually really enjoyed it. There may be light spoilers in my review, but nothing too revealing.
The story takes place on a space station that is free from the purity laws enacted on Earth. At the station, life is a utopia for queer people and sex workers, and the brothel La Vie Boheme is one of the most respected, including the face of it, Dorian. Although he's detached and has no room for love in his life, he happens to meet a particularly handsome trans man, Laith, one night at a party, and everything begins to fall apart.
Unfortunately, there is a threat to paradise. There's a candidate looking to gain power and bring the purity laws to the station, and she's got some dark and underhanded methods to make sure this happens...
I fell in love with Dorian, and my heart ached for him for so much of the book. I know he can be cold and mean sometimes, but he has a good heart and I just feel like I could connect with him in some way. He has a lot of walls up, which I can relate to. 'Keep yourself closed off to avoid being hurt,' and sometimes, that can make you into someone not so nice. Underneath though, he just wants to be happy.
I admittedly got so frustrated with Laith sometimes, but that's solely on me. He's definitely a brat, which is just part of his character. Just like Dorian, he was so well-written and I felt like I really got to know the both of them well. Gabriel did such an awesome job of making them unique and keeping them in character, even in some of the most difficult moments that challenged who they both were.
It was so refreshing to read about healthy sex work and kink play. It's so sad to realize, but I've rarely come across a book involving kink play that was written with such care, especially with how the characters emphasized the importance of consent in everything. Safewords, checking up on partners and aftercare, strict rules at the brothel to keep everything safe and well, just so many important things that should be in more books involving this kind of thing. I also learned a lot, myself!
There was a part of the book that left me a little frustrated when it came to a later point in the plot with Dorian and Laith's relationship, and the aftermath of some big drama, but that may just be a case of personal preference. There are just certain things that I'm not a fan of reading when it comes to complications in relationships, but I just simply put the book down for a few to clear my head, and then I dove right back into it.
The book really picks up in action at the end, and I couldn't stop reading it. I just binged the rest of it in one sitting, and I really want to know what happens after all of this!
Gabriel is such an amazing writer, and the mystery that unfolds beneath the evolving relationships of the characters, and the sweet and spicy scenes, really had me intrigued the whole time. It was just so well done, and I look forward to spending more time with Dorian, Laith, and everyone else. I definitely recommend this book if you're into queer erotica, a good mystery, a sprinkling of sci-fi, and some good, healthy views of sex work and kink.