Book Review: The Experiment (Saving Caeorleia Book 1) by Alicia Nordwell

Five years ago Ryker signed up for what was supposed to be a harmless experiment only to end up tortured, abused, and changed into an alien species. When he's sent down to the planet full of Caeorleians, he's sure they're going to kill him or experiment on him as the doctors did, but Seral, the alien he's bonded to now, actually seems to care for him. Ryker starts to realize he might have a chance for a better life on this planet than he ever did on earth, but the war still rages on, and not every Caeorleian is as accepting of their new hybrid.

Book Review: The Experiment (Saving Caeorleia Book 1) by Alicia Nordwell | reading, books, book reviews, science fiction, sci-fi romance, lgbt, m/m, aliens
Title: The Experiment
Book Number: Book 1 of TBA
Pages: 270
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher


*I received a free ecopy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

First of all, I would like a pat on the back for the fact that I actually spelled that series name correctly without looking it up first. But now for the actual review…

Even though I gave this 3.5 stars, I think this could easily rate higher for some people, depending on what you like.

The main issue I had was that it was questionable whether the feelings between the two men were real or just a product of the alien bonding thing that was forced onto them by the scientists. Or maybe it was more like a fated mate thing? Either way, it’s just not a trope that’s for me. It made me doubt how real their love was and took away the chance for that fun, tension-filled build-up I like.

Another smaller issue I had was that the first sex scene seemed kind of forced into the story. It didn’t seem fitting for Ryker’s character considering he’d been raped for the previous five years (though I suppose his trust and enthusiasm was explained by the bond).

That being said, the characters were still cute together. Seral was overprotective at first, but never in an alpha way; he was just worried because he knew that Ryker had been through a lot of abuse. I loved how they both respected each other and how healthy their relationship seemed once Seral got past his overprotectiveness.

The characters themselves were also enjoyable to read about, as was the whole alien race and the planet they were living on. I liked seeing the differences between our culture and that of the aliens—there was a lot of delicious-sounding food mentioned though, so take my advice and don’t read this on an empty stomach! The differences in physiology were cool too. I found it especially neat the way they communicated with vibrations rather than speech and the way they were all so fascinated with Ryker’s laughter because of how the vibration felt.

I also liked that Ryker had a lot of inner struggles to get through because of the terrible things he endured. Even after he got off the ship, the poor guy just could not get a break! The inner struggles subsided pretty quickly though, so this wasn’t a dark or heart-wrenching book, but that’s another thing that could be good or bad depending on what you like.

As for the plot, it started off slow-paced since it was focused on Ryker healing from his past and the start of his and Seral’s relationship, then around 50% it picked up and got more action-filled. So there was more than just romance, but the romance was still the focus.

In the end, even though the backstory and a few of the things that happened during the novel were heavy/dark, the story itself was still a sweet romance with a hopeful tone. Overall, I liked how caring and respectful the relationship was, the way the plot picked up, and the the alien aspect, so, despite the issues I had with the romance, I enjoyed the book!


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14 thoughts on “Book Review: The Experiment (Saving Caeorleia Book 1) by Alicia Nordwell

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  1. Lola

    I totally would have to double check that series name if I had to write ti right, then again i often have to double check things like characters names as well.

    That alien bond thing does seem a bit weird, although I have read quite some books with the mate/ bonded thing (a lot of shifter books have them) and I usually expect the romance to develop a bit faster when such an element is present. But it’s still more fun if the author takes time to develop their romance. And after being raped for 5 years it does seems weird he jumped into sex so willingly again. It does sound like those two characters are good together.

    I love it when an alien culture is well thought out, there are so many books were the aliens seem too human. So that sounds really well done in this book and makes me curious. I don’t think i would like the experiment and abuse part though. Although that’s good to know the overall tone still was hopeful.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Lol yeah it’s just got so many vowels.

      That’s one of the reasons I don’t like shifter books very much, I’m just not into the mate/bonded thing, though I’m sure plenty of people are. But yeah, the first sex scene was just off for me. They were cute together in the end though. It’s nice to read about actual respectful relationships.

      The aliens were pretty human in a lot of ways, but I liked the ways in which they were different, like the vibrations. The experiments and abuse was all in the past, just part of the backstory, but I would’ve liked if it had at least affected him more. You know me, I like my books darker lol.

  2. roro

    Artificial bonding always seemed a little iffy to me but hey i’ts a trope. The first thing i saw when clicking the link of my subscription of your blog was the cover. I love green , escpecially that type of green. ( haha for future cover disscusions: forest themed lol)

    I would be freaking out if i was abducted. Luckily Ryker had a support system. I love how authors can illustrate exotic alien worlds. I’m giving this one. I that found of the tacked on sex scene you mentioned. Tnx for the review , Kristen

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly, for every trope there are people who hate it and others who love it! I love the cover though! It is a nice shade of green, and I also just like the art style and the whole thing. And forests is a great idea for a cover post 😀

      Poor Ryker was actually way better off on the alien planet than on the ship with the humans. Seral was really great to him, so he did have a good support system once he was there. And it’s always fun seeing how authors create different worlds! The sex scene felt off to me, but I guess books can’t all be *perfect* lol.

  3. sjhigbee

    Hm. I get REALLY fed up with books where rape is tossed into the mix to make us bond with a protagonist – who then promptly bounces back with little or no residual trauma. Five years of abuse would surely totally mess up someone’s ability to respond sexually. And if the bonding thing is overriding his natural reluctance, then that also begins to sound too coercive to be a healthy, natural relationship.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yeah, I agree that if rape is in a character’s backstory, it should have a significant impact or reason. He did have some trauma, freak outs about things, etc. in the beginning. I just would’ve liked if it had been explored more and a little more difficult to overcome. I don’t know if I’d say the relationship came across as coercive, though I do see your point, I think it was just more that I wasn’t sure I believed their love.

  4. Angela @ Simply Angela

    Ooh fated mates, such a tricky trope to get right. Normally, they feel too forced/fake for me to enjoy, especially when the characters just seem so wrong for each other. I think the only ones that I’ve actually enjoyed were the ones in Jennifer Ashley’s Shifters Unbound series.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I try to stay away from fated mate books, but this one just seemed so interesting that I couldn’t resist. But yeah, it probably depends on how well-matched the characters seem as to how well the trope works. Then again, I just don’t seem to ever really like the trope, so I think it’s just not for me.

  5. Keionda @Keionda Hearts Books

    I LOVE that cover! I guess since it IS a Sci-Fi book, then it has to go ALL OUT but still, it’s pretty AWESOME-FUL. I feel like there was a lot that could have gone into this story, LIKE SO MUCH MORE could have been explored, like the rape and all that. I think with the fact that they had this weird alien bonding thing going on made a lot of things seem…not real? I’m glad that their relationship was good though. <3 <3

    1. Kristen Burns

      I love that cover too! I think it half the reason I couldn’t resist reading the book lol. But yeah, I would’ve liked for the effects of the rape and abuse to be more explored. Some people don’t want to read stuff like that though, they want happy, sweet romance, so I guess that’s the audience it was written for. And exactly, fated mate bonding things just make me question how real the love is, but at least they were cute together 🙂

  6. AngelErin

    That cover kind of freaks me out. Lol! This doesn’t sound like one for me, but I’m glad you liked it. Sounds like there are a few issues, but still a good book. ? Fantastic review!!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Haha I love the cover! I think that was one of the reasons I was so interested in reading it lol. And I did still enjoy it, even with the issues 🙂 Thanks!