A strong 4 stars for this intriguing story set in a futuristic feudal civilization where martial skills and business acumen are both valuable to the various lords and vassals Usually archaic language and odd terms annoy me, but EG does it right Our heroine Lilian has a way with numbers, cause and effect, and other things that are not quite right She can discern subtle patterns that hide dangerous threats or surprising profits.There are many secondary and tertiary characters, but each is well A strong 4 stars for this intriguing story set in a futuristic feudal civilization where martial skills and business acumen are both valuable to the various lords and vassals Usually archaic language and odd terms annoy me, but EG does it right Our heroine Lilian has a way with numbers, cause and effect, and other things that are not quite right She can discern subtle patterns that hide dangerous threats or surprising profits.There are many secondary and tertiary characters, but each is well defined and plays an important part in the tale The bad guys are a little inept, and the good guys never lose, but the story kept my interest.Although all the indentured young adults are obliged to service their Lords, it doesn t really qualify as non con The few sex scenes are very sensual, and enhance the bond between Lilian and her Lord There are hints at darker practices by others, but these are not explored I ve loved this intricate world from start to finish, the odd formal speech is a little difficult to get into at first, and its one you have to concentrate on not the equivalent of film where you can get up, make a cuppa of take a phone call and still know what s going on in twenty minutes but the pay off as you sink into Ms Manetti s political intriguing and socially different world is well worth the effort.This is one I will come back and read again, which isn t something I say very often th I ve loved this intricate world from start to finish, the odd formal speech is a little difficult to get into at first, and its one you have to concentrate on not the equivalent of film where you can get up, make a cuppa of take a phone call and still know what s going on in twenty minutes but the pay off as you sink into Ms Manetti s political intriguing and socially different world is well worth the effort.This is one I will come back and read again, which isn t something I say very often these days Review for Book One, The Cartel 4.5 Stars, rounded up to 5 Ms Manetti s world building is heckin impressive Like, I wanna pick this author s brain about her outlining skills impressive Everything about the Twelve Systems, from its layered history to multiple religions to complex social structure among the people who reside there has been built from scratch And it s important that you keep that in mind as you read this is not our world.Though their society is fartechnologically adva Review for Book One, The Cartel 4.5 Stars, rounded up to 5 Ms Manetti s world building is heckin impressive Like, I wanna pick this author s brain about her outlining skills impressive Everything about the Twelve Systems, from its layered history to multiple religions to complex social structure among the people who reside there has been built from scratch And it s important that you keep that in mind as you read this is not our world.Though their society is fartechnologically advanced than that of present day Earth, the Twelve Systems commercial Cartels that run this world along with the Governing Council arelike quasi monarchical capitalistic authoritarian ish entities than what we would call companies or conglomerates And Lucius Mercio oversees his own powerful Cartouche, Blooded Dagger, like some devious, clever, ruthless, demanding king we might recognize from Earth s past Actually, oversee isn t quite the right word Our hero pretty much rules the place.This power dynamic between Lucius and the heroine Lilian is why I urge readers to remember this isn t our world This is a world where humans can choose to be kept as property in exchange for things such as ensuring a better life for yourself and loved ones back home, to Lilian s situation an alternative to The Final Draught , or execution by poison as punishment for the crimes of her late father.You may be asking, What say you I thought this was a romance And to that I would explain, the series may evolveinto love story territory as it progresses, but in book one, its genre isalong the lines of high brow Sci Fi Erotica She owns not the slightest understanding of nuance or custom Lucius spoke this of Lilian, but it could be said for me as well I ve always been wary of power imbalances between heroes and heroines, so I ll admit that I was hesitant to even consider warming up to Lucius Some revelations and certain actions as I got to know him made me feel even colder toward the preeminent warrior, or milord as he is to be referred to by Lilian But the author managed something quite remarkable As nuance and custom about the Twelve Systems is revealed to the reader, my frustrations and all around saltiness toward Monsignor Mercio thawed considerably As Lilian does, I also began to look forward to the times she was to attend to milord And this is some feat, considering I tend to balk at anything even close to BDSM territory Which this technically isn t, but the D s elements are most definitely there.In addition to the sexy sexytimes, there s also an intricate mystery involving industrial espionage and sabotage Intrigue that came to light thanks to the very clever and ever resourceful Lilian The corporate conflict that plays out serves as a successful counterbalance to the many erotic scenes between Lucius and Lilian, and along with strong secondary characters, made for a read that I know will stick with me for some time.Review for Book Two, Bright Star 5 Stars Every time I come back to the Twelve Systems, I get totally engrossed by this world From its minor details, to speech patterns, to intricate social histories and hints of preternatural abilities amongst certain people, the author has built a universe so complete that you re able to totally immerse yourself in it as you read After I finished book one, I mentioned the story and characters would stick with me, and that s still true I find myself thinking about Lilian and her plight at random times throughout the day in a way that I really haven t experienced with other heroines.In my review of the first in the series, I categorized it as high brow Sci Fi Erotica as opposed to a Romance While I still wouldn t file this under your traditional Romance , I wouldn t say book two is Erotica, either This installment issmart Science Fiction featuring intrigue, complexities, and layered characters with some rather smexy sexytimes throughout I could absolutely see this a show on HBO Just please don t give it to Benioff and Weiss from GoT to adapt, lol In Bright Star, I found myself evendrawn to Lucius spymaster, Trevelyan I dig how he pushes back against some of the accepted ways of this world, including Apprentice Bonds, which are similar to indentured servitude with a sexual contract.The Twelve Systems Chronicles and the amazing world building sucks you right in I look forward to readingof this series, which has had one of its later books earn a spot as a 2019 RONE Award Finalist I finally got to this 2 book bundle last month and I regret not reading it sooner Don t let the glossary and list of characters intimidate you It was very helpful in navigating this civilization setup in the Twelve Systems Class and bloodlines mean everything in this society.Lilian loses almost everything except her life as punishment for the high crimes of her father She s allowed to live by becoming an Apprentice indentured servant courtesan for Lucius Mercio He s head of the fourth mos I finally got to this 2 book bundle last month and I regret not reading it sooner Don t let the glossary and list of characters intimidate you It was very helpful in navigating this civilization setup in the Twelve Systems Class and bloodlines mean everything in this society.Lilian loses almost everything except her life as punishment for the high crimes of her father She s allowed to live by becoming an Apprentice indentured servant courtesan for Lucius Mercio He s head of the fourth most powerful Cartel in the Twelve Systems and he wants to move it up to be the third most powerful.Lilian is intelligent as well as beautiful and has martial arts skills learned before her family s downfall Lucius knows she s an asset to him in many ways He is cautious with his trust and demands much of her mentally and physically My opinion of Lucius went back and forth as I found out that everything is not as simple as it might appear Lilian is strong and while she accepts her fate, she does not act the victim She makes friends among her new peers and helps them as much as stricture allows I will continue to read this sexy, sci fi series to see what is in store for Lilian and learn about the long term plan that Lucius has set in motion Swords and Spaceships Romance and sex It s written to be fun Bundles at a discount Welcome to the Twelve Systems 10% in I wasn t sure I liked the book, understood the world or it s characters and was having trouble keeping track of everything Wait, I was told, it gets better 20% I was hooked and could not stop until I read both books Inventive set up for the government and politics of this universe I enjoyed seeing how the main character found her way out of some pretty difficult tangles, and enjoyed watching her progression in the books Some pretty hot sex too All in all a great read I look forward 10% in I wasn t sure I liked the book, understood the world or it s characters and was having trouble keeping track of everything Wait, I was told, it gets better 20% I was hooked and could not stop until I read both books Inventive set up for the government and politics of this universe I enjoyed seeing how the main character found her way out of some pretty difficult tangles, and enjoyed watching her progression in the books Some pretty hot sex too All in all a great read I look forward to the following books in this series I m hopeful the author hascoming Intrigue abounds The world of the cartels is phenomenally built and fascinating to read about Lilian the disgraced daughter of a criminal must spend three years proving herself to save her life and her family She joins the cartel of Lucius Mercio and immediately is thrust into a world where intrigue abounds She navigates better than anyone expected and in doing so finds friends and is slowly building a new place for herself Excellent read A woman in peril A ruthless warrior A distant world A dangerous contract With characters that jump off the page, love that is forbidden yet unstoppable mixed with top notch worlds and technology, sci fi has never looked so good or become so addictive InD Tale Magazine, Februaryimage THE CARTEL The Apprentice, VolumeRaised to wealth and privilege, Lilian s was left destitute and endangered when her father was convicted of terrible crimes By law and custom, she should have followed him into death to redeem her corrupt genetics Desperate to avoid execution for crimes not her own, Lilian accepts an indenture contract with a powerful warrior For three years he will have total control of her body, will, and intellectLucius Mercio commands one of the most powerful Cartels in the Twelve Systems As clever and ambitious as he is ruthless, Lucius wealth, influence, and power place him among the elite of the warrior caste It is not enough Lucius intends to take his Cartel to unimaginable heights with the aid of Lilian s brilliance He faces only one obstacle Lucius must keep Lilian alive BRIGHT STAR The Apprentice, VolumeIn the second volume in the Twelve Systems Chronicles, Lilian s enemies are determined than ever to see her destroyed A visitor from her past will endanger her future and threaten to destroy Lucius slowly developing trust To survive the next set of challenges Lilian will need to find new reserves of courage, wit, and determinationWhen Lucius motivations and ambitions are revealed, they are far extraordinary than Lilian imagined His rivals are about to increase in number and ferocity as they seek to limit his expanding wealth and power They will use any means to undermine and destroy his plans including his notorious apprentice To advance his ambitions, Lucius must be ruthless and devious than ever before To succeed, Lucius requires Lilian s brilliance To make use of it, he must keep her alive It is going to prove difficult than he anticipated