Iridia has grown up invisible. To family, friends, co-workers, she is barely there. They haven’t noticed her in so long that the Volunteer project seems like the best method to deal with her issues. They see the potential in her and welcome her with open arms, basic training in combat and weapons, as well as etiquette for dealing with alien species.
Chosen to be a Guardian on a newly re-waking world, Iridia finds that she is the second Guardian chosen and the only girl on the team.
Zanthan has been waiting for her, so has the world beneath him. Tharos Prime swore never to have an Avatar again, but he never said he wouldn’t take two.
Iridia walked into her parents’ house, dusting her fingers off on her jeans. Her mother was in her workroom, mathematical problems on every surface.
“Mom, I need to speak with you and Dad. I will be in the kitchen.”
Her mother didn’t respond, so Iridia left the room and walked to her father’s lab at the other end of the house.
Her parents agreed early on to split their interests in the house. They each had work and research areas separate from the other, and they only got together for one meal a week.
Iridia had become used to being invisible early in her life because she was. She was the contractual obligation of the marriage, and once their only child had been born, both parents had lost interest, farming her out to a number of nannies and grad students.
She had grown up watching people, new people constantly coming into her life. They were all happier if she was out of the way and quiet, so that is what she became. Watching people was her self-defence mechanism. Not all of her babysitters had been pleasant, but if she was careful, she could avoid them.
It had been a strange way to live, but it had forced an evolution inside her that may never have happened. It had changed her into what she was today.
She opened her father’s lab. “Dad, I need to talk to you and Mom. I will be in the kitchen.”
He didn’t even twitch.
She hadn’t expected much; she walked to the kitchen, made tea for three and wrote one letter to each of them, putting one on each side next to the teacups. They would come in and find their notes eventually. She suspected it would be after she was already on the moon.
She poured her tea and sat in the familiar space and looked around, reliving every memory she had. The student who had baked her cookies when she was four, the nanny who took care of her skinned knee and the tutor who helped her with fractions. It had all happened in this one place, the place she existed but never truly lived.
She finished her tea and went upstairs to pack her duffel. If she could find a life, it had to be amongst people and places that were new and exciting. With very few exceptions, humans were very disappointing.
Iridia was birthed by her parents because it was expected of them, not because they wanted a child. In order to be around either parent, she learned to be both still and quiet. When the Allianace began taking volunteers, Iridia debates whether to turn in her application. But the recruiters see something Iridia can bring to space, if she will take the final leap of faith.
Zanthan is the child of an Avatar. He has taken millennium to mature and his mother has trouble seeing and accepting that he is grown. He has grown up on Tharos and now leads the Guardians assigned to this world. When he meets the new terran Guardian will he use his natural abilities to convince her of his suit? Or will his mother’s temper cost him his future?
Lesser by Viola Grace is eighth in the Terran Times Second Wave series. Iridia has been invisible all her life. Her parents did their duty but felt no love either for each other or their child. She found the courage to run toward a future which would provide a purpose and an opportunity to learn. Zanthan is a little harder to pin down. If we listen to his mother, he is little more than a spoiled man, used to getting what he wants with little inclination to grow up. But when we meet him, we find a man comfortable within his skin and ready for the job ahead.
While I enjoyed this addition to this series, I felt little connection to either character. I also struggled to believe the connection between Zanthan and Iridia. I found their separate history to be heartbreaking but beyond that didn’t buy the chemistry between them. I enjoyed seeing Iridia come into her own but I have come to expect more from this author than she gave us in this tale.
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