Ironhaven, by Misa Buckley, was a surprisingly good science fiction romance that I received unsolicited from the author.

The story starts as the last shuttle leaving a dying earth is about to take off from the spaceport. Lucian Hoyt believes he has a ticket on it. But he discovers when he attempts to board the ship that his ticket has been cancelled–by his parents! Since they refuse to answer his calls to clear up the mess, he is left with the conclusion that he is being disowned in a rather permanent fashion because he refused to marry the upper-crust debutante his rich parents had chosen for him.

It’s never specified, but our earth has gotten a lot colder, and things are getting worse. Whether this is a future where the sun is just getting old, or whether we’ve screwed up the planet, it doesn’t matter. The point of the story is that everyone knows the planet is dying, but that there is plenty of time to get some people off planet, just not everyone. And the ones remaining have plenty of time to worry about when death will come for them.

So Lucian gets left behind. He resents his parents for having left him, naturally enough. Lucian is used to being rich, to being part of the upper crust of society. Now, everyone he sees resents him for being one of the people who left them behind, even though he has been abandoned, too.

All is not lost, however. In the first bar he walks into, Lucian meets a pilot, Drew. Drew knows an engineer who might be able to built a ship, if Lucian is interested. Lucian goes looking, just thinking there might be a way out of the death-spiral. What he finds is his past.

Lucian didn’t marry Elspeth “flaming” Pennington, the rich debutante, because he never stopped loving the one woman his parents forbade him from marrying. When Lucian discovers that Genevieve Scott is the engineer, and is the only person who might possibly be able to built them all a way off their dying planet, he finds he wants to build a bridge back over the chasm separating them every bit as much as he wants to help her build that ship.

The question is whether either of them can get past the hurt and the scars, both emotional and physical, that five years of separation, pain and broken promises have left on their bodies and hearts.

Escape Rating B+: I enjoyed this story very much. I really wanted it to be longer! It’s only 49 pages, and there was a certain amount of background I wanted, like what was really going wrong with the Earth, that I just wanted to know.

Gen and Lucian and interesting characters. I wanted to spend more time with them. They deserved their happy ending, they worked very hard for it. Again, I would have liked just a little more background. But as the reader, I definitely felt their pain. There’s a specific instance about the lack of background that made this a B+ and not an A. Lucian is in his 30s. Without more background, it was difficult to understand why his parents still  had such an vise-like grip on his life. There’s something about the way that the society is structured that I didn’t get. Gen couldn’t figure out why Lucian didn’t contact her in the five years they were separated, if he loved her so much, and I couldn’t either.

This book is only 50 pages. The author did a remarkable job tying up all the loose ends. I simply wanted more!