Daughters of Suralia by Christie Meierz
Three women, two planets, and a whale.
For Marianne Woolsey, linguist and tutor, being empathically bonded to the leader of the Tolari turns out to be a bed of roses – complete with thorns. Especially thorns.
With diplomatic relations severed and humans kicked out of Tolari space, the Earth Fleet ship Alexander is gone … for now … but Earth Central Command hasn’t given up trying to get Marianne back. As she struggles with surprises, nightmares, and a bond-partner who can’t be tamed, she just wants to figure out where she fits in a society that isn’t quite human.
Laura Howard, the Admiral’s widow, only desires to be left in peace to gather the fragments of a shattered heart, but Central Command has plans for her, too.
Meanwhile, the Sural’s apothecary is a serene and gifted healer who knows what – and who – she wants. Circumstances have conspired to deny her the man she’s always loved, but in the pursuit of his heart, she has an unexpected ally – in the depths of Tolar’s oceans.
Note: This story includes alien cultural practices that some may find objectionable in romance, including a ruler who is expected to father children by many women.