“The Last Hour of Gann” by R. Lee Smith

“The Last Hour of Gann” by R. Lee SmithThe Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith
Published: 12 September, 2013 by Red Hot Romance
Genres: Erotica, Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 1023
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed
Buy on Amazon
View on Goodreads

After reading R. Lee Smith’s undead erotica novel last month, my friends and I decided to make monster romance book club (well, that’s the sanitized version of the name) into a regular event. We all loved R. Lee Smith’s worldbuilding, and we knew that she had another monster romance, this time featuring an alien lizardman as the love interest.

The Last Hour of Gann starts out in a futuristic and dystopian Earth. The planet is overpopulated, society has broken down, and Amber and her sister Nikki have just lost their mother, who was a prostitute. Amber and her sister have few options. They can’t afford the rent, and it’s basically prostitution (not particularly viable as a profession) or glorified slavery. But instead, Amber is able to book passage on the first ever colony ship to another planet. It’s not a *great* option, but it’s a shot at a better life. Unfortunately, the ship is run by a greedy corporation, and it never makes it to its destination. Instead, it crash lands on the planet Gann.

Meoraq is a lizard man warrior priest who lives on Gann. His father has recently died, and he’s having a rough time of it, because it means that he’ll need to leave his religious post to take over the family estate. Meoraq doesn’t really feel called to a life where he’ll marry, settle down, and be tied to the estate. He prefers battle and adventure. He prays to his god for direction, and immediately sees a column of fire in the sky. And so he goes off into the wilderness only to find alien creatures who have crash landed on his planet.

One of the really neat things about The Last Hour of Gann is that we get to see the humans from an outside perspective starting pretty early in the book. Meoraq looks at them as aliens, and has plenty of existential crises because nobody has ever heard of people from other planets (or even seen other planets, for that matter, as Gann is a post-apocalyptic wasteland where the sky is always obscured by clouds, and the sun and stars just aren’t visible). And since very few humans survived the crash, they’re engaged in a kind of Lord of the Flies breakdown of their society.

When the ship crash lands, Amber is one of the only practical people. She wants to get away from the wreckage in case of explosion. She wants to try to find food and shelter, and to figure out how they’re going to survive. But a man name Scott assumes the role of defacto leader, because he’s charismatic and tells people what they want to hear–let’s wait here, we can hope for a rescue, we’re not really stuck here, everything’s going to be okay. He blames problems in the camp on Amber’s negativity, and people would rather listen to his bluster than work on concrete solutions to their problems. The tension between Amber and Scott is a recurring theme throughout the book, especially as Amber slowly learns more social skills, and Scott becomes more and more unhinged.

Shortly after the crash landing, Amber tries to hunt some wildlife so that the humans can eat as their rations run dry. And on her hunt, she meets Meoraq. Meoraq sees this as another sign from his god, and so he starts trying to take care of the humans, almost as if they are pets. Scott doesn’t like it, but he is content to be taken care of. Meanwhile, Amber befriends Meoraq, and keeps trying to get him to teach her how to survive on his planet. Meoraq is amused by Amber’s self-reliance, and slowly, gradually, the two begin a relationship.

The Last Hour of Gann may be a sexy novel about a human falling in love with a lizardman, but it’s a slow burn romance that has intricate worldbuilding and incredibly beautiful writing. As with the first R. Lee Smith novel we picked up, we went in with low expectations, but found them completely surpassed.

I could go on about this book all day, and I had written several more paragraphs that I accidentally deleted (thanks WordPress updates that changed how many steps go into publishing a post), but here are a few key things that stuck out to me:

  • There was a lot more sexual violence in Gann than in Land of the Beautiful Dead, so if that’s something you don’t want in a book, then steer clear.
  • The worldbuilding in Gann was fantastic. It’s set on a post-apocalyptic planet, and finding out what happened to the planet and how that shaped society for generations to come was a key plot point.
  • Religion and spirituality was a major theme throughout the book. Meoraq is a religious fundamentalist, and as the book proceeds, he learns that a lot of his beliefs were legends and superstitions related to the previous apocalypse. Meanwhile Amber is a literalist, pragmatic to a fault, and as the book progresses, she learns to respect Meoraq’s beliefs and to come to a more spiritual understanding of the world.
  • Amber and Meoraq both had a lot of family-related baggage to unpack. On Amber’s end, she feels a tremendous amount of guilt for getting her sister shipwrecked on an alien planet, and Nikki constantly uses that guilt to manipulate her. On Meoraq’s end, he needs to learn to understand his father, and to see that his relationship with his mother wasn’t a weakness, but a strength. And it’s not an easy realization for either of our main characters.

Overall, both this and R. Lee Smith’s other book are better than they have any right to be, and I will happily keep reading more of her monster romances. This book had everything I could ask for–an alien planet, a love story, a sci-fi adventure, and an archaeological/historical exploration of a dead civilization. A++

Comments make me happy! Please feel free to leave a reply.