You know, if someone had the balls to tell Ms Kenyon to ditch the poor me-ish background and try say, a normal, well-adjusted character once in a while, it would make for a better story. As it is, the crutch has become a ball and chain that keeps me from saying "wow! What a great story!".
Ok, we have Dancer who, at the tender age of...14 I think...was badly burned in a fire. One or both of his parents insisted he go on his endurance (a camping trip of sorts) before he'd truly healed. His older brother took him on said event. His older brother had become hooked on drugs thanks to his mate. His older brother got himself killed, and nearly got Dancer killed as well.
3 years later, he, as per the laws of his people, approached his former SIL for mating. She refused. They've been doing this yearly ever since. Of course, he only had to do this for so many years as long as no children were involved, and if children were, until the last one passed his endurance. The chick conveniently had herself AI-ed to make sure he had to keep doing this.
So we have the H - whose parents haven't exactly stood up for him (they could have stopped this, but didn't), and who is pledged to a cow who...actually prefers women (and the author does not elaborate on it but I got the feeling that in his culture, this was a bad thing) but is content to string him along for all eternity or until he dies. Her lover wants him out of the way.
The heroine - Sumi - is a) Dancer's slightly older brother's late/ex wife's kid sister. She killed a boyfriend who tried to kill her. The league conscripted her as punishment, and took the baby as soon as it was born. They use it to browbeat her into doing what they want, like say, getting evidence against Dancer so they can capture him for interrogation.
So we have the h - who has dealt with abusive relationships all her life, and who desperately wants her kid back.
At some point, they come to an understanding, and another understanding, and...well, you get the picture.
And along the way, he's being hunted.
They finally get back to the mothership so to speak, whereupon she's conveniently adopted by the queen? Princess? Whatever NyKyrian's mother is. In order to keep her from a death sentence both for endangering the heir and well, touching an unavailable male.
See, I could get her having *a* abusive boyfriend. Two abusive boyfriends, an abusive father, and a sister who OD-ed? Was all that really necessary? Oh wait; forgot about her punishment by being forced to become an assassin and having her daughter stolen from her by the League.
And I could get that maybe his former SIL and pledged mate would be nasty, etc. I'm just having a great deal of difficulty with the notion that his parents, having lost one son violently, had another disowned or whatever due to a human, could/would abandon the only one they still claim. And considering their one grandson pretty much denounced his mother...
At what point does one say "enough!"?
Also, maybe the series should be renamed The Alliance of the Abused Heirs, since practically every H in here is a prince or emperor or something. Dancer isn't but his father was originally pledged to the Princess so pretty darned close.