I'm a little conflicted about how I should go about writing this review, or how many stars to give it. So I'll break it down into three sections for people who read reviews and base their decision whether or not to buy a book on those reviews.
Part 1: The Sex
If you bought this hoping to read something that will put you in a "mood" in your own bedroom, look no further! There are a couple of scenes that will have you tackling your significant other as soon as they walk through the door. One thing I love about these author's bedroom scenes is their ability to create a beautiful love scene without the overuse of purple prose. There is a shower scene that was astonishingly beautiful that I thoroughly enjoyed. As for the magic dildo (that a lot of you are familiar with through Rae's fan fictions), some lesbians reading this may be pretty turned off by it. Though I've never been with a man, (so I don't speak from personal experience), the scenes involving the dildo seem very masculine in nature, and I'd go so far as to say extremely close to the real thing. "Futa" works for a lot of lesbians (and male readers), but that aspect of the book may turn a lot of you off to this particular novel. I'm okay with the dildo aspect, but this wasn't my favorite of her/their dildo play. But even if you don't like dildo play, the other love scenes are still very steamy and hot.
Part 2: The Characters
Admittedly, I wanted more. I wanted a lot more. I say this in hopes these authors take it as constructive criticism and continue to improve. I felt as though, like Tess from "All the Pretty Things," Maia was a fully actualized character, but all the surrounding characters fell a little flat. Though Taylor was basically the main character, I didn't find her particularly well fleshed out or interesting, and I unfortunately found her to be immature in a lot of places. I have noticed from reading a lot of Rae's works, however, that this is a fairly common theme. The "doms" tend to be fairly one-dimensional (and very masculine), and the "subs" tend to be very complex, interesting, feminine, and well thought out. This also (again, unfortunately) makes it almost feel like a man/woman relationship, rather than two women. But I may be an exception to the rule; plenty of people like the butch/fem dynamic. So if you do like the butch/fem dynamic (and realistic cockplay), then this book is for you.
Part 3: The Plot
It is with great regret that I say . . . the plot really didn't work for me. But let me give a little context here: I REALLY DON'T like the guard/prisoner plot device for any kind of romantic scenario, so that's fully three quarters of the reason the plot didn't work for me. In my personal opinion, it's because it isn't a sustainable plot device, and it borders much too closely on the brink of Stockholm Syndrome. And although they did a pretty good job of not making it seem Stockholm-ish, some people may view it as such. I felt as though there was something very dire and serious going on in the background (aka, the war), but none of it really came to fruition. There was a lot of potential in the races they created, the back story, the war, all that, but it all went on the back burner to focus more on the relationship between Maia and Taylor. I think the book was kind of indecisive about what it wanted to be: a quality smut book, or a science fiction space opera. I personally would have preferred it if Maia and Taylor never even had sex until after Maia was no longer a prisoner. That would have freed up a lot of space to focus on plot, races, and the war itself, as well as get rid of the possible Stockholm feeling. I think one of the problems with starting a book as a fan fiction is, with a fan fiction, the audience already knows all the lore, aliens, background, etc., but with a book you're creating something entirely new and as such, you have to show the audience all of the aforementioned things. I felt like the ikthians were fairly well fleshed out, but nothing else really was. So for those of you who came to this book hoping for an epic sci-fi adventure . . . I am very sorry to say this book probably won't do it for you.
Dark Horizons Overall: 3 and 1/2 stars
Having gotten through the hard stuff, I will say there is always something incredibly compelling about the writing itself. I read three quarters of it in one night, which almost never happens. I read books pretty slowly. Admittedly, after I got to the three quarter mark, I walked away for a while because I felt a little over-sexed. But regardless, there is just something intrinsically enjoyable about these author's writing style that makes their books darn hard to put down. Of the two, though, I did much prefer "All the Pretty Things."
Now for all you haters out there: calm down. Take this book for what it is - high quality smut. You won't find a better lesbian smut writer in the whole darn world than Rae D. Magdon. And I think with a bit more practice, these two could really deliver an incredible, well balanced plot/character/smut story, because I've seen what they can do. I've seen fully actualized characters and love stories, especially in Rae's Law and Order fan fictions. So some final words: keep supporting these authors and gently encouraging them include a bit more plot because we love that just as much as the smut. And we know they're good at both! I think, given a little more practice, we really can have it all! :D