Off Balance (Aunare Chronicles, #2) by Aileen Erin

Rating: 5/5 stars. Highly recommended!

Published: 11 February 2020 by Ink Monster, LLC

Genre(s): YA/NA Fantasy; Sci-Fi; Romance; Dystopia

Pages: 516 (Kindle)

Broken, beaten-down, and plagued by nightmares, Amihanna di Aetes is surrounded by the Aunare race that makes up the other half of her heritage, but she feels alien amongst them. She’s not sure which is worse: SpaceTech’s overt hatred of Aunare or the Aunare’s covert hatred of halfers. She hears their whispers whenever she enters a room and sees her death reflected in their eyes. Amihanna doesn’t know who to trust anymore, but she hasn’t survived this long by ignoring the warning signs all around her, especially when her instincts are screaming that a familiar choice is coming: flee or fight.

Her parents assure her everything is okay—that there won’t be any reason for her to fight, let alone flee—but with Amihanna’s sudden return, questions arise among the Aunare: who should be blamed for the start of a full-scale war with SpaceTech, how much danger will the war bring, and is Amihanna truly fit to be the next high queen?

Honestly, Amihanna wants to forget all the politics, her betrothal to Lorne, and the possibility of being queen. Her needs are much more basic. All she wants is a solid night’s sleep where she doesn’t wake up screaming with the phantom pain of her skin burning. All she needs is to live without fear of a mob tearing her away from her family. All she hopes for is a chance to dream of a future instead of constantly fighting for her right to live.

And yet, somehow, everything she does leads her back to Lorne. He always seems to know when she’s about to break under the pressures of her new life. His quiet patience is wearing Amihanna’s protective walls down, and she’s terrified of what will happen if they fall.

Source: Goodreads

First of all, let me just say: You! The one reading this. Yes, you! Put this series way on top of your TBR stack now!

Off Balance is the sequel to Off Planet that I reviewed a few days ago. I totally ignored my TBR pile while I was reading these two books back-to-back. My Goodreads profile showed that I was reading a couple of titles at once. Ha! That was a big fat lie. I didn’t mean to ignore other books; once I started Off Planet, I realised that I just didn’t want to divide my attention. This series deserved my 100% focus.

I’ll just say the downside of this book first before I go on and on about how much I love Off Balance. A common complaint I found about this book and Off Planet (#1) is the repetitiveness. In Off Planet, it was Amihanna going through ordeals and painful recovery time and time again. In this book, it’s the same training in the gym and pushing Lorne away over and over again. I’ll just say that I totally get the necessity of it in developing our main character and I have no problem with it. I do understand that it is a major peeve for some readers and may even be a deal-breaker.

It’s rare that the second title in a series is able to hold a tighter grip on me than the first but Off Balance did it. I couldn’t put it down and literally flew through the pages! Even when I wake up in the middle of the night to feed my 2-month old and change diapers, I’ll read this on my Kindle for a few minutes before snoozing off again. Aileen’s writing touched me because it feels so close and real. Anyone struggling with feeling like losing themselves by being with a partner, being a parent, or just doing something that demands all your energy and attention will feel this.

While in Off Planet the theme revolves around survival and perseverance, Off Balance is about the identity crisis of Amihanna who is suffering from PTSD and faced with a better life that includes love, power, and responsibilities. She doesn’t know how to reconcile her past and her future with all the weight of expectations it promises. Due to her losing her memories as a child, she still hasn’t got some essential Aunere part of herself back no matter how hard she tries. Although, people around her insist the person lost in the memories is shining through and she doesn’t have to worry so much about it. Amihanna feels differently; If she can’t figure out who she is, then how is she supposed to be the leader that everyone is expecting?

The romantic connection described in here – termed shalshasa or ‘mirror soul’ – is something that I honestly feel best describes love in the sense of compatibility. Sometimes, you have no idea why your significant other makes you feel at ease when they do but they just do. I love this quote, it’s beautiful and I kept rereading this because it speaks to me on so many levels.:

Our souls aren’t the same. We’re not two halves. We’re just extremely compatible.

I was reading this book at a physically, mentally, emotionally demanding time in my life and reading Off Balance is like a balm that soothes my head from the hassles and rush of the day. It’s probably all because of Lorne, really. I can’t get enough of Lorne because his tenderness with Amihanna is so much like my husband when I’m losing it. When I’m not spending time with him and my girls, reading this book is really all I want to do. So I sneak it in here and there before and after work. And in the middle of the night when I wake but everyone’s asleep.

I can’t get enough of Lorne x Amihanna. I’m officially addicted to Aunare Chronicles, a too off-people’s-radar series. The last series that did this to me was The Illuminae Files. Oh my gosh, I still can’t get over how brilliant that was. Guys, I’m seriously hung up on this series! It’s also safe to say I have a severe crush on Lorne now. Gee, thanks Aileen 😩

I sincerely thank the publishers via  NetGalley for approving my request for this title and pre-approving (you took my pre-approval-ginity 🙊) me for all their titles on NetGalley. This means that I have access to all future titles of this series! 😭

All opinions are my own and are based on the advanced digital review copy.

Sarah at The Aroma of Books reviews this book through a pros & cons list that you can quickly skim through