Formats available: ebook
Genres: science fiction romance
Series: Phoenix Adventures #10
Published by Anna Hackett on September 18th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
A deep-space convoy master who demands everyone follow his rules discovers a stowaway on his ship: a smart scam artist who’s never met a rule she wouldn’t break.
Dare Phoenix runs his convoy with absolute control. In uncharted space, lives depend on it. When one plain, dowdy woman comes aboard, his gut tells him that something is off about her. Soon there are assassins on his ship, sabotage, and people dying, and Dare discovers his drab passenger is definitely not what she seems. Instead, he uncovers a smart-mouthed scam artist who defies him at every turn.
Dakota Jones is a survivor. Life has taught her that if you don’t grab what you want, someone else will snatch it away. Tired of having nothing, she’s stolen a map to the location of an immense lost treasure from Earth and she’s going to find it. Okay, so maybe stealing the map from a deadly terrorist group wasn’t her best decision, but now she just needs to dodge their crazy followers, hide out on the Phoenix Convoy, and find a way to decode the map. Easy, right? Wrong. As soon as she sets eyes on the sexy, in-charge Dare Phoenix, she knows she’s made a terrible mistake.
Dare and Dakota strike sparks at every turn…but with her life in danger, she reluctantly agrees to join forces with Dare to find the treasure. But every step of their adventure is dogged by danger, and the biggest threat they face is getting burned by their incendiary attraction. On this hunt, they will find themselves going beyond their depths, tested to their limits, and deep in uncharted territory.
And one of these days I fully expect to discover that the contemporary treasure hunting family in her new Treasure Hunter Security series are the direct ancestors of the Phoenix brothers – both sets of them.
The Phoenix Adventures are set in a gritty far-future post-diaspora galaxy. The mother planet, Earth, is still a nuclear wreck, explored all too dangerously in Return to Dark Earth
Humans have even interbred, or genetically engineered, some interesting hybrids, like Nissa Phoenix (nee Sanders), Captain of the Phoenix convoy flagship and wife to her former nemesis, Justyn Phoenix (see Beyond Galaxy’s Edge for the details on that story.)
In this latest entry in the series, Through Uncharted Space, Dare Phoenix and his brothers Justyn and Rynan are indeed traveling through uncharted space, leading a convoy to far-distant worlds, taking their passengers into the unsettled black where there is opportunity for a better life for many, and a chance of adventure for others.
For this branch of the Phoenix family, it’s a living.
But when Dare discovers that one of their passengers is much, much more than she initially appeared to be, the whole family gets bit by the treasure hunting bug yet again. And Dare finds that the troublesome package that Dakota Jones represents is everything that he’s been searching for – whether they find the treasure she seeks or not.
As Dare and Dakota at first resist but eventually succumb to the chemistry between them, the convoy detours into a search for a long-lost Earth treasure ship – and the waterworld it crashed on.
In order to get the treasure all that Dare and Dakota have to do is find a planet that no one believes exists, while dodging a horde of determined assassins who will let nothing get in the way of getting to the treasure first – and killing anyone who gets in their way. And Dakota Jones is first on their hit list.
Escape Rating A-: I picked this up because I was looking for a book that would carry me away to its world for a few blissful hours – and Anna Hackett’s books always do.
This is a long-running series, and I enjoy it every single time. Which doesn’t mean that there are not easily discernible patterns to the stories. Just like Eos Rai in the first book, At Star’s End, Dakota is hiding who she is and what she really wants in order to reach a goal that she fears the Phoenixes will steal from her. All the while hiding from someone much more nefarious in pursuit.
And both women have roughly the same goal, to find the location of a lost Earth transport ship carrying massive amounts of pre-diaspora Earth treasure. Eos, who has a brief cameo in Through Uncharted Space, found the Mona Lisa and countless Terran art treasures. Dakota is searching for the Atocha Treasure, which may be the treasure from the Spanish treasure galleon the Nuestra Senora de Atocha. If it isn’t this actual treasure, the prize in Through Uncharted Space was almost certainly inspired by it.
One of the fascinating things about this series is the way that the stories link together, without absolutely requiring the reader to start at the very beginning (although it’s all awesome, so why wouldn’t you?)
In this case, the assassins hunting Dakota are in the employ of Nissa Phoenix’ brother, who is the leader of a deadly cult. We’ve run into him and his gang before, and we undoubtedly will again.
But the story here, as always, is the search for the treasure and the unexpected romance between Dakota and Dare. That romance is not unexpected on the part of the reader, but it certainly is on the part of the participants.
Both of these people have a whole lot of dark buried in their pasts. They both come from histories of extreme poverty and hellish abuse, and they both escaped. But neither believes themselves either capable of or worthy of being loved, and neither trusts outsiders at all. They have a tremendous amount to overcome, and nothing that happens in this story makes it easy.
But it is so satisfying when they make it.
Originally published at Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly