Review: Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2

Review: Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2 by S.E. Smith, Carol Van Natta, Jessica E. Subject, Alexis Glynn Latner, M.K. Eidem, Susan Grant, Michelle Howard, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green, Sabine Priestley
Format: eARC
Source: publisher
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genres: science fiction romance
Pages: 826
on October 10th 2017
Publisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKobo
Goodreads

The pets are back! Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, featuring twelve of today’s leading Science Fiction Romance authors brings you a dozen original stories written just for you! Join in the fun, from the Dragon Lords of Valdier to a trip aboard award-winning author, Veronica Scott’s Nebula Zephyr to journeying back to Luda where Grim is King, for stories that will take you out of this world! Join New York Times, USA TODAY, and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, M.K. Eidem, Susan Grant, Michelle Howard, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green, Sabine Priestley, Jessica E. Subject, Carol Van Natta, and Alexis Glynn Latner as they share stories and help out Hero-Dogs.org, a charity that supports our veterans!

10% of the first month’s profits go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.

My Review:

I loved the first Pets in Space collection, as well as all the pets collected therein, so I was happy to sign up for Pets in Space 2. And I’m glad I did.

This is a collection to savor, and possibly also one to plan on reading over a long trip. This book is huge. Why? Because this is not a collection of short stories, it’s a collection of novellas. Novellas are longer, meatier and just have room for more story all the way around. So if you like SFR in general or stories where animals help the humans get their romantic act together, this one is a winner from beginning to end.

I have to confess that I haven’t read them all, yet. I want to have time to get into each story, and possibly see how many books in each author’s series I need to add to my towering TBR pile.

That being said, I really enjoyed the stories I did read. But because this is my “best beloved” genre, SFR, I have a few quibbles.

I read the first two stories, Pearl’s Dragon by SE Smith and A Grim Pet by MK Eidem straight out of the gate, before I realized I had to pace myself a bit. I liked both of them, but Pearl’s Dragon spoke to me a bit more. It was fantastic to see a “woman of a certain age” as the romantic lead. That doesn’t happen nearly often enough, even though in science fiction it is easy to posit more than enough medical advances to make it not merely plausible, but very, very possible. And it’s fun to see someone I can really identify with as the heroine!

But both of these stories are in worlds that I am not familiar with, and that are several stories into their worldbuilding. As much as I enjoyed them, I always had the feeling that there was a whole bunch that I was missing because I hadn’t read the previous stories. Which look like a treat. As soon as I get a round tuit, I’ll be back to visit these worlds again.

I went hunting for a cat story, because, cats. I love cat stories, and cat’s stories, and that’s why I have two of my own. And I loved Rescued by the Cyborg by Cara Bristol, even though I have not read the series that it comes from, either. Little Mittzi added just the right touch of comfort and whimsy to a story that definitely had its dark and gritty moments. And Mittzi even saved the day!

Then I went looking for the stories in universes that was already familiar with, and explored two of those, Veronica Scott’s Star Cruise: Songbird and Pauline Baird Jones’ Time Trap.

Time Trap was a bit shorter than the rest, and just didn’t have quite enough time to deal with what feels like some very complex worldbuilding under the surface. And that’s ironic considering that this is a time travel story. I liked Briggs and Madison, but because I didn’t have a lot of background for them I found myself short-cutting what I did have and grafting it into universes I’m more familiar with. Something kept saying Stargate to me, but I’m not sure if that mental leap was remotely correct. Still, great characters, but the worldbuilding had clearly happened elsewhere. Sir Rupert, on my third hand, was an absolute hoot. Pun completely intended.

Of the stories that I read, I think that Star Cruise: Songbird was the best of the marvelous bunch. It probably helped that I have read several books in the Star Cruise series, and was relatively familiar with the worldbuilding. This story felt the most complete, in the sense that we had a chance to really see the relationship develop from its shaky start to its life-altering conclusion. The bond between Grant and his raptor was nicely done, and Karissa’s problems, while they were difficult, showed that she was dealing with her life and just needed a bit of help – not that Grant needed to rescue her at every turn. I also loved that they found a way to be together that melded both their worlds. A great story with a well deserved and interesting HEA.

Escape Rating A-: There are mostly hits in this collection, and plenty of temptation not just to immerse yourself in this book, but to go back and do a deep dive into every one of these authors’ worlds. I loved the first book, and this is a fitting continuation. I hope that there will be a Pets in Space 3 to look forward to next year, because this collection has become an annual treat.

Review: Pets in Space by S.E. Smith and more

Review: Pets in Space by S.E. Smith and morePets in Space by S.E. Smith, Susan Grant, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green, Alexis Glynn Latner, Lea Kirk, Carysa Locke
Format: eARC
Source: author
Formats available: ebook
Genres: science fiction romance
Pages: 500
on October 11th 2016
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKobo
Goodreads

Even an alien needs a pet…Join the adventure as nine pet loving sci-fi romance authors take you out of this world and pull you into their action-packed stories filled with suspense, laughter, and romance. The alien pets have an agenda that will capture the hearts of those they touch. Follow along as they work side by side to help stop a genetically-engineered creature from destroying the Earth to finding a lost dragon; life is never the same after their pets decide to get involved. Can the animals win the day or will the stars shine just a little less brightly?New York Times, USA TODAY, Award Winning, and Bestselling authors have nine original, never-released stories that will capture your imagination and help a worthy charity. Come join us as we take you on nine amazing adventures that will change the way you look at your pet!
10% of profits from the first month go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.

My Review:

If you enjoy science fiction romance, with or without the addition of adorable animals (and other creatures), Pets in Space is a marvelous collection.

It’s also a marvelously big collection. With one notable exception, the stories here are all novellas and novelettes. They are as big and as expansive as science fiction and science fiction romance themselves. And the stories run the gamut from alien invasions to spaceship stowaways, and everything in between.

I’ll confess right now that I didn’t manage to read the entire collection. I’m saving a few for nights when I need a little pick-me-up of a story to take me away from life, the real universe and the 2016 Presidential Election. But the ones I did read I absolutely loved. And while I also confess that I went looking for the cat stories first, everything I read was wonderful.

My two favorite stories in the collection are A Mate for Matrix by S.E. Smith and Spike by Alexis Glynn Latner.

A Mate for Matrix had me laughing out loud at lots of points. It begins as a story of partnership. Matrix Roma and his partner K-Nine are members of the Zion military’s elite Cyborg Protection Unit. While the mostly human Matrix has been enhanced a bit, his partner K-Nine has been enhanced a lot from his biological origin as a Wolf/Canine hybrid. K-Nine has lots of enhanced sensors, a reinforced frame, and enough intelligence to speak and use all kinds of tools. Which doesn’t stop K-Nine from chasing a squirrel on their mission to hunt down the genetically engineered Crawler – an intelligent hybrid that plans to colonize and consume Earth.

K-Nine’s squirrel chase ends the way all too many such chases do, bouncing off the grill of a speeding truck. But unlike most terrestrial canines, the cyborg K-Nine survives and finds himself in the care of a vet tech with a lot of love to give to three tiny kittens, the great big K-Nine, and maybe even K-Nine’s reluctant human partner.

But when Matrix first finds his missing companion, he makes all sorts of mistaken assumptions about K-Nine’s current situation. The point where Matrix identified the three tiny kittens as explosive charges had me rolling on the floor. Because kittens ARE explosive charges – at least until they get hit by a nap attack!

The love story is fast but sweet, especially since Matrix falls for Jana, and K-Nine falls for the little furballs that Jana has adopted. In the end K-Nine gets everything he wanted. This is a terrific story and I’m looking forward to finding more by this author.

My other favorite story in the book is Spike by Alexis Glynn Latner, the only true short story in the collection. I wasn’t sure I’d have time to fit this one in, but I’m so glad I did.

This one is just plain adorkable. I think it would also be a terrific story to introduce lovers of young adult and new adult romance to SFR. This is a spaceship based story, set on a ship that escaped a dying earth and is now looking for a home. The hero is a young engineer with a bent for miniaturized robotics. His pets in this story are the cluster of tiny robots that he has lovingly built with his own hands. His “kaleidoscope of flutterbys” can do scanning, sampling, analysis and exploration independently. They are adorable but also very effective. When the ship’s captain discovers that sabotage is wrecking the new ships that are being built, she puts Ten Jaxdown and his tiny robots to work to find the saboteurs, with the help of Stasia Steed and her even more unusual pet – a telfer – a collection of intelligent sparks. In the process of getting her telfer to work with his flutterbys, Ten and Stasia save the mission and find each other.

And it’s lovely.

There is one other cat story in this collection, Star Cruise: Stowaway, set in the universe that Veronica Scott has created aboard the Nebula Dream and her crew of military veterans turned cruise ship operators. It was lovely to revisit that world in the company of Monty and Midorri. There are several other dog stories, and even one with a Komodo Dragon! While the animals in each story do provide more than a bit of comic belief, they also adore their humans and help get whatever job needs doing done.

Escape Rating A-: If you enjoy romances that include an animal companion, or if you just love SFR, this collection is a sweet and spaceworthy treat!