Review – Changing Tides (New Reality #14) by Simone Anderson

Reviewed by: E

Trigger Warning – references to male sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse, and torture

Brett DeMarco is a First Lieutenant in Aelland’s Security Forces and hopes to become the head of intelligence someday. After the death of his fiancé, Brett threw himself into his work, dodging his father’s attempts to get him to marry the right woman, never doubting the career path he’d chosen.

Orion Hellman is the base commander’s personal assistant, has never spoken a word to anyone, and follows orders exactly, helping to ensure the base runs smoothly by any means the general deems necessary. Classified as a manual laborer with marriage out of the question, Orion has no intention of getting involved with anyone.

A chance meeting ignites Brett’s long dead desire, changes everything he knew and gives Orion everything he never thought he wanted.
This blurb came from Goodreads

I accepted this review request because I thought the blurb was intriguing and I didn’t do any further research into the title. I started reading it and while I thought the opening was interesting there seemed to be something missing, then life got in the way and Changing Tides vanished under the weight of my TBR. I picked it up again recently and finished it but still felt like I was missing something. Then I looked up the title and realized I was missing 13 books worth of something which explains why I felt like I was dropped into the middle of an extended saga. I wish I had the backstory because I think I would have enjoyed the story more.

Brett was happily engaged until his fiancé was horribly murdered. Since then he resisted any urge or persuasion his father made about finding the right person to marry even as he was approaching the time to decide or undergo permanent sterilization. Then he encountered Orion and realized he was capable of seeing a future with other person again. Orion pretty much belonged to the base commander and as such he was protected in a few ways but abused in many others. Orion also fell for Brett but he didn’t have any hopes of a relationship given his position on base and also the secrets he was keeping. I enjoyed watching Brett and Orion work through their relationship and their individual traumas. Brett’s tenderness and protective nature towards Orion was very nice to see, while Orion’s determination and drive were also impressive. I thought they complimented each other even when they disagreed about things.

Aelland was apparently on the brink of disaster, human rights were violated and government crackdowns established. The government already controlled marriage, reproduction, and adoption and seemed to be taking steps to control more of what we would call basic human rights. And then those who openly spoke out tended to disappear or were arrested and proof of being a traitor revealed. Within the military encampment other then the death of Brett’s fiancé things appeared to be just fine. Then disturbing videos about mass executions and graves started appearing in both public news and on the closed systems of the military. In those videos the ruling government was named as the culprit. To make matters worst the victims were people institutionalized whose families thought they were safe. Changing Tides briefly mentioned the institutions held a special place in the heart of the ruler because some of her family members were placed in one. But other then the murders and the family connection I didn’t understand the importance of the institutions and those who were placed in them. I am guessing they were fleshed out somewhere in the previous 13 books.

Changing Tides seemed to be the climax of the series. Tension rose to a breaking point within Aelland providing the chance for long made plans to come to frutition. Orion and Brett played a critical role in the future of Aelland even as Brett struggled with seeing how things were outside of his rather sheltered bubble. He learned some good and bad things about people he thought he knew and trusted while correcting some assumptions about others. I thought he in some ways had the most internal conflict to deal with. Orion on the other hand had to live up others’ plans and intentions while shedding a role he played for years. He had the pressure of being the focal point of hopes and dreams while also bearing the responsibility for success or failure. Even though I didn’t have any of the story background I was still cheering for Brett and Orion both in their relationship and in their external struggles.

As I said in the beginning, I missed 13 books worth of information and I think my enjoyment and understanding of Changing Tides suffered as a result. Aside from that I wanted a bit more of an emotional payoff when it came to Brett dealing with those who betrayed him. I felt like he became a bit one-note when I thought given the importance of the betrayal and its impact on his life, there should have been a mix of emotions. If you decide to give Anderson a try, I recommend not starting with book 14.

I give Changing Tides a C+

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