Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Phoenix Adventures #6
Length: 78 pages
Publisher: Anna Hackett
Date Released: December 21, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
After a vicious coup, cyborg Axton Saros, Prime of the planet of Centax, is trying to rebuild his world. Still recovering from his captivity and dark guilt, he won’t let anything get in his way. But a priceless artifact, stolen during the attack, is still missing and Axton wants it back. What he doesn’t want is the emotionless and infuriating Centax Security cyborg, Commander Xenia Alexander, heading the investigation.
Everybody knows CenSecs are the galaxy’s deadliest killers. So enhanced that their emotions are dampened to nothing. But Xenia’s been keeping a secret her entire life–her systems don’t work and she feels. Working with Axton to find the Codex Da Vinci, he makes every emotion in her flare to brilliant life, but to be the perfect CenSec, she must not succumb.
As they follow a trail of clues and booby traps, Axton vows to do everything he can to show his beautiful cyborg the pleasure she’s never experienced. Even if she fights him every step of the way. But as the hunt takes a deadly turn, their desire might be the only thing that can save Xenia from annihilation.
On a Cyborg Planet is a direct follow up to the Phoenix Adventures story On a Rogue Planet (reviewed here). And while it isn’t necessary to read the entire Phoenix Adventures series in order to enjoy On a Cyborg Planet (although why wouldn’t you, the series is awesome) it probably helps continuity a LOT to read On a Rogue Planet first.
In Rogue Planet, Malin Phoenix and Xander Saros find an ancient Earth artifact and save Xander’s planet, Centax, from hostile invaders. It’s a fun story and a terrific human/cyborg romance.
But while Xander is out saving their world, his brother Axton Saros, the planetary leader of Centax, is being tortured for his security codes and secrets – which he does not give up, and Xander is finally able to send his best operative in to rescue his brother.
That operative is Commander Xenia Alexander of Centax Security. Xenia, like Xander in Rogue Planet, is a cyborg. Everyone knows that the implants that enhance the abilities of CenSecs (Centax Security members) inhibit the emotions of the CenSecs. The best CenSecs, like Xander and Xenia, are not supposed to be able to feel. Their implants supposedly filter out all emotion.
Most of the people on Centax seem to have some implants, but not even close to the degree that CenSecs do.
In Rogue Planet, Xander discovers that whatever he was told, or believed, about the lack of emotional capacity on the part of CenSecs was all a bunch of horsepucky. Because Xander very definitely loves Malin. Of course, he practically turned himself inside out trying to either not believe it was happening or fix it.
By the point of this story, Malin and Xander are definitely living their happily ever after on Centax. And it seems like Xander wants to make sure that his brother Axton finds the same happiness, no matter who it might be with.
Whether or not he knows that his brother is infatuated with his second-in-command or not, Xander definitely fixes them up. He assigns Xenia to Axton as his assistant and bodyguard, figuring that constant contact will break down the reserve on both their parts. Especially since Xander has always known that Xenia’s emotions were not suppressed. Xenia just learned to be a damn good actress.
Axton is hunting for one of the artifacts that were stolen while their planet was occupied by the disgustingly evil Rahl. Xenia is there to prevent him from setting off any remaining Rahl booby-traps, or at least to make sure he survives any he finds.
Neither of them has a clue that the traps were ingeniously designed to catch both of them. Or that Xenia’s awakened emotions are the only thing that can save her. But only if she loves Axton enough.
Escape Rating A-: This is a short novella, and it can afford to be. The worldbuilding has already been done in On a Cyborg Planet (Centax being the cyborg planet). All of the characters are introduced in the previous book.
The cyborgs remind me an awful lot of Data. They’ve been told that they are not supposed to feel, so they think they are broken when they do. Data was also told he didn’t have emotions, so he continued to believe that he needed an “emotion chip” to allow him to have feelings, even though his behavior shows that he has plenty of emotions all along. He just doesn’t know how to express them.
So we know all along that Xander feels quite a lot for his brother Axton, no matter how much he pretends that it is respect for their planetary leader and not simply love for the brother he likes and respects. Likewise, Xander knows that Xenia’s emotions have not been dampened. Even more important, he likes and respects her as a fellow officer. He also feels loyalty, which is yet another emotion.
Xenia rescued Axton at the lowest point in his life – saw him at his absolute worst. Even more important, she comforted him because she could tell he needed it. Those moments where she protected him from the world and gave him the strength to go forward have created a bond between the two of them. A bond that Axton wants to act on, and that Xenia fears will be her undoing.
It is beautiful to watch as that supposedly forbidden bond saves them both.
And the thought of a “First Lady” who can and will totally kick the ass of anyone who steps out of line is fantastic. I suspect it’s a talent that a lot of First Ladies would like to have.
Originally published at Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly