When is a barbarian from a primitive planet not a barbarian from a primitive planet?

When he is the leader of an advanced society who went into hiding on a primitive planet. Or…er, maybe he is a barbarian now, because he stayed for seven years and took a new identity. That is, until his dreaded enemy (and true love) comes to kidnap him, planning to have him impersonate, er…himself.

I realize this sounds convoluted—probably why the back blurb for this book never mentioned any of this—but it works and makes for a really wonderful futuristic romance. The Dawn Star is full on, over the top, romance. As so many of the 90’s futuristic romances did, it skips much of the science part of the SciFi and focuses on the societies and cultures of the world and on the lovers. Maybe it is my sociology background that makes this type of romance appeal to me, but they are one of my mindless pleasures and I wish we had more stories like this coming out now.

The Dawn Star focuses on three planets that, at some point in their far back history, each experienced drastic climate change.  Three very different cultures evolved and in the beginning of the story, two of these worlds are on the brink of war. Nisa is on a mission to avert the war, by returning Motega, the rival world’s imprisoned leader. Unfortunately, the man died in prison (or so she believes) and she is forced to recruit (forcibly) an imposter. What she gets is the man himself, transformed into a primitive warrior on the harshest, least developed, of the three worlds. Calling himself Seneca, the hero clearly represents a romanticized version of the Native Americans and he sets about changing both warring worlds by sharing his new found knowledge.  It is all about balance and harmony for this changed man. The one thing that hasn’t changed is his love for Nisa.

What I loved about the heroine: Nisa is driven and passionate and trying to save her world. She has a deep love of her brother and is destined to fall for the same man twice.

What I loved about the hero: Senecca has a wicked, subtle humor and an endless well of patience. He is also torn between the things he once valued, the things he came to value, and the woman he couldn’t forget.

Other cool stuff: Carob the talking lingbat is a bit of a show stealer. His exploits and delight in crunching bugs adds humor in all the right moments. He is also handy to have when planning an escape.

Genre: Futuristic Romance

Primary format: mass market paper back

Publication date: 1996

Publisher: Love Spell

I apologize for the fact that this book might be hard to come by. It is long out of print so you’ll have to dig up a used copy. If you can’t find this one, The White Sun, and The Midnight Moon are in the same series and I recommend them with equal enthusiasm. Don’t worry about reading them out of order. They can stand alone.