Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Phoenix Adventures #4
Length: 85 pages
Date Released: November 26, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance
A flirtatious fortune teller + a sexy, single-minded marshal = a sexy, fast-paced sci fi romance
Fortune teller Relda Dela-Cruz is a woman with a secret. One she’ll do anything to conceal. She hides in plain sight on the market world of Souk, content with running her profitable fortune-telling business and never letting anyone too close. But when assailants attack her in pursuit of a powerful artifact, Relda collides with the city’s handsome, new marshal. A man who leaves no stone unturned and no secret covered.
War has left former Galactic Special Forces Captain Hunt Calder tired and empty, but one look at sexy Relda–with her wild curls and lush curves–brings him back to life. When she’s threatened over the mysterious Trojan Moon, Hunt will let nothing stop him from protecting her. Even Relda herself.
As they face alien attackers and killer droids, Relda can’t resist her burning attraction to Hunt. But she knows he’s the most dangerous threat of all, because he doesn’t just want her body, he wants her trust and her secret, too. A secret with the power to destroy Hunt and Relda, the city, even the planet itself.
Unlike yesterday’s book, Beneath a Trojan Moon reads very much as a standalone, in spite of being book 4 in Anna Hackett’s Phoenix Adventures series.
In this short, sweet and sexy story, the home base of the famous or infamous Phoenix Brothers is a moon orbiting the planet Souk where this adventure takes place. While the Phoenix Brothers are mentioned (their moon is actually a repeating pun) the brothers (and their assorted cousins) only appear briefly as very much secondary (maybe tertiary) characters. The Phoenix Brothers provide setting and worldbuilding, but do not underpin the story.
In other words, if you are looking for an entry into this marvelous series, Beneath a Trojan Moon is a good place to start. Almost as good as the excellent first book in the series, At Star’s End (enthusiastically reviewed here).
Instead, we have the story of one of the last survivors of a powerful and persecuted race, in possession of an artifact that has ties to old Earth (our Earth) but with extra added provenance and power.
The Hope Diamond is still dazzling, and it is still spreading its curse around the galaxy. It is also a powerful artifact that enhances the psychic powers of whoever holds it. In other words, it is still beautiful and precious, and it still leaves death in its wake.
Relda is one of the last of her people, and she is also the keeper of the Trojan Moon, a blue diamond that once graced the head of a goddess, and was once part of the French crown. Relda’s Trojan Moon is sought by collectors and would-be psychics, especially those with too much money and no scruples whatsoever.
Relda has been hiding in plain sight on Souk as a fortune-teller.Most people believe she is a talented faker, but in fact she is one of the last of the Vega-Lyrans, and seeing the future is just one of her many talents. Also just one of her many secrets.
Former Galactic Special Forces Captain Hunt Calder is the law on Souk. He’s also a Predian, which means he has a few extra-special talents up his rather muscular sleeve. One of those abilities allow him to sense a person’s heart and respiration rate. Unless someone is very, very good, and very, very heartless, Calder knows when someone is lying.
And he’s absolutely certain that Relda is lying through her beautiful teeth about why so many people are after her and the Trojan Moon, whatever that might be.
Putting her into protective custody in his own apartment allows Hunt and Relda to finally explore the chemistry that has been simmering between them, in spite of the necessary evasions that have kept them apart.
It also makes Relda a much easier target for the bad guys to find. The question is whether she can rescue herself before Hunt finds her, and whether or not that rescue just paints and even bigger target on both their backs.
Escape Rating A-: This one is short, sweet and sexy, more of an appetizer for this series where the novels have been main courses.
I’m writing this at lunch time, so I may be a bit hungry, but I think the analogy still holds up. The novels in this series, At Star’s End, In the Devil’s Nebula and On a Rogue Planet include a heaping helping of adventure along with the sc-fi romance. Beneath a Trojan Moon is all about the romance between Relda and Hunt. The story just uses (and uses well) a science fictional setting that the author has already done a marvelous job setting up.
Hunt has quit GalCom and become a local lawman because he felt that the work he was doing for GalCom was turning him into an emotionless robot. But falling for Relda, someone he knows is hiding some awfully big secrets, is more of a stretch than he planned on.
Relda tells herself that Souk is just a temporary stopover in a life of running and hiding, but in 4 years she has put down more roots than she expected. She has made herself a home and isn’t quite aware of it.
Her surface awareness is that people who were afraid of the Vega-Lyrians have made all members of her species personae non grata on every planet, and that frightened people hunted her people, including her own parents, to death. Not for anything they actually did, but for what they were capable of.
Relda has the power to level the entire planet. Any planet. She’s rightfully afraid that if she reveals herself the mob will come for her too.
At the same time, she is constantly looking over her shoulder because there are collectors (just like The Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy) who will spend any amount of wealth to add both The Trojan Moon and Relda herself to their private collections.
This story comes to a marvelous head when Relda has to choose which is more important – revealing herself and while saving Hunt and her friends on Souk from a ship crash, knowing that the people of Souk may turn her in later themselves, or hiding and letting go of any chance of happiness, or even a future.
Beneath a Trojan Moon packs a lot of sci-fi wallop into a short story. I loved this little aperitif, and can’t wait to dive into another full-course story in the Phoenix Adventures.