Review: Stellarnet Prince by J.L. Hilton

Format read: ebook provided by NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: Science fiction romance, Space opera
Series: Stellarnet #2
Length: 252 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: November 12, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

An otherworldly love. Human blogger Genny O’Riordan shares two alien lovers: Duin, a leader of the Uprising, and Belloc, the only surviving member of the reviled Glin royal family. Their relationship has inspired millions of followers—and incited vicious anti-alien attacks.

A planet at risk. A Stellarnet obsessed with all things alien brings kidnappers, sex traffickers and environmental exploitation to Glin. Without weapons or communications technology, the planet cannot be defended. Glin will be ravaged and raided until nothing remains.

A struggle for truth. On Earth, Duin discovers a secret that could spur another rebellion, while on Glin, Belloc’s true identity could endanger their family and everything they’ve fought for. Have the Glin found true allies in humanity, or an even more deadly foe?

What goes around comes around. Saying that is a universal truth seems even more applicable when the entire universe is really involved.

The Glin believe in a kind of “rule by committee” and their society works as a type of ultimate democracy. They aren’t technologically advanced in the way that humanity strives for, but it works for them. And think of Starfleet’s Prime Directive. We don’t know the best way their society should develop. Their way might turn out better. Who knows?

So when a “ruling clan” developed among the Glin, a clan that reserved certain artifacts and certain special ways to themselves, traditional Glin rose up and wiped them out, down to the last child. Duin, one of the main characters in Stellarnet Rebel (reviewed here) led that rebellion.

Duin kept a secret. He may have been the hero of the Uprising, but he let one child of the Star Tribe survive. That child, that prince, was just a baby then. Now he is a full-grown Glin. He’s also Duin’s co-husband to the human Genny Riordan. It’s Belloc.

Secrets come full-circle. Genny is the hottest thing on the Stellarnet, the all-the-time/everywhere news channel/invasion that is our internet + television on way too many steroids.

Their life with Genny is broadcast to everyone, everywhere, all the time. They have fans. They have enemies. They have stalkers.

Duin is the Glin ambassador to the UN, or its equivalent. Genny’s parents think she should be deprogrammed, so that she’ll leave Duin and Belloc.

And there are even more predatory races than the humans who are sniffing around Glin, races that the humans are supposed to protect Glin from. But maybe they’re not. Maybe all the negotiations are just a smoke screen to keep Duin busy while the humans sell his planet out from under him.

Because there are secrets that he doesn’t know. And secrets the humans don’t know. Maybe Belloc’s secret identity as the last Star Prince is the terrible liability that Duin has always thought it was.

And maybe it will be enough to save every Glin from extinction.

Escape Rating B+: The science fiction romance aspects were toned down a bit in this story. After all, the relationship between Duin, Belloc and Genny is already established to a significant extent. Not that they don’t still have some work to do together.

The space opera aspects of the story are the ones that really come to the fore in this one. Lois McMaster Bujold’s comment about science fiction being the “romance of political agency” comes into play here. Duin starts out as a political newbie. He thinks he’s not, but the UN-type agency is the big leagues, and he’s only played in the minors up til now. He’s on guard, but the game is just so much bigger. He knows they are all lying to him, but the lies are way huger than he imagines. The particular lie was a doozy!

The subplot with Genny’s parents was just a shade too predictable. Everyone should have been way more on their guard for that one.

But the space opera was top-notch, and I loved the surprise ending! I hope there are more in this series. There’s some terrific world-building here, and I’d love to see more in this universe.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Blue Nebula by Diane Dooley

Format read: ebook received from NetGalley
Formats available: ebook, audiobook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Blue Universe #2
Length: 129 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: September 24, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

Sola de la Vega is on a mission to save the galaxy, and nothing will sway her. Not even the pleas of her beloved husband, Captain Javan Rhodes, to keep herself and their unborn child safe.

Fitted with a series of technological “enhancements” entwined with her central nervous system, Sola is not fully human. Her father is the undisputed leader of Earth, and Sola is driven to put an end to his genocidal rule—before he can follow through with his plans to consolidate power over the universe into the hands of the aristocracy.

Despite Javan’s fears for her safety, and coping with a difficult pregnancy, Sola’s quest has become an obsession she cannot control. Compelled to choose, duty must come before her love for Javan. And when Sola joins forces with Destin Grady — her father’s sworn enemy — in a plot to execute the dictator and seize power, she soon uncovers secrets from the past that have her facing a future she never could have imagined…

If you like science fiction romance AT ALL, get Blue Galaxy now. I’ll wait for you to catch up to me. It is just SO worth it. Don’t believe me? Take a look at my review of the first book in Diane Dooley’s Blue Universe for the first chapter of Javan and Sola’s story.

(And it’s impossible to review book two without spoiling book one at least a little. I want you to discover this world for yourself. Much more fun that way.)

At the end of Blue Galaxy, Javan and Sola have more of a “Happy-For-Now” than a “Happy-Ever-After”. Not because they aren’t crazy in love with each other, but because the entire universe really is out to get them.

Sola is determined that the only way she and Javan can have their happiness forever is if she goes home and gets rid of the enemy who is dogging their every step. There are only a few problems with her plan.

1) Their enemy is the all-powerful Dictator of Earth.
2) He’s Sola’s daddy.
3) Sola is pregnant.
4) Daddy dearest inserted some really messed-up bio-engineered programming into Sola that is messing up her pregnancy and her emotional balance.

And then there’s the really big problem–her daddy the dictator planned all of this (except Sola’s pregnancy) because he wanted Sola to take over from him. He’s dying. He wants her to be the next dictator.

Sola only knows what she wants when she turns off all her enhancements. But without her enhancements, she’s not sure she can survive everything that’s being thrown at her. Especially after her programming makes her give Javan up. But it can’t make her forget him.

No matter how many times she puts her memories of him into data storage. Love is stronger than programming. Love can conquer everything.

Escape Rating B+: Blue Nebula was every bit as good as Blue Galaxy. I loved finding out more about Sola and her world. In the first story, she’s such an enigma. Here we find out what happened to her. But then, so does she!

There’s also a lot of heartbreak. Not just for Sola and Javan, but also for Destin Grady, who loved Sola and lost her twice. I kind of hope there will be a sequel where he finally gets another chance at happiness with someone else. He’s finally earned one.

I do still wish we knew a bit more about Daddy Dearest’s motivations for totally warping all of his children. He was just plain way out there. I kind of get why he became dictator, but not the stuff he did to turn his children into monsters.

Blue Galaxy and Blue Nebula pack a LOT of story into surprisingly short novels. I still wish there were more.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Forge by T.K. Anthony

Format read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance, space opera
Series: Thrall Web #1
Length: 377 pages
Publisher: Decadent Publishing
Date Released: July 21, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

Warned by a Seeing…

The high king of the Scotian Realm expects the arrival of an enemy, a race of psychic predators bent on galactic conquest. The Realm’s one hope is alliance with the neighboring star domains in defense of a shared colony, Forge.

Caught in Fate’s grim weaving…

Mindblind, amnesic, Tazhret lives out his drug-induced visions of servitude on Forge. He wants to believe the beautiful woman with the nut-brown hair who whispers reassurances to his harrowed heart: “You have a name.” But is she even real? Or just one bright thread in his dark dreams?

An unexpected hope…

Tazhret’s destiny leads him to freedom and the woman he yearns for—and to a desperate struggle against the enemy.

Tazhret can save Forge, and the clan of his beloved. But only at the cost of all he has hoped for: his name, his freedom, and his love for the woman with the nut-brown hair.

Forge is the name of a planet in T.K. Anthony’s amazing combination of space opera, science fiction romance, and interplanetary intrigue.

It’s also a metaphor for the transformation of the characters in the story from merely human, into the roles that have been cast for them by destiny. Forges create weapons by fire, hammer and strength. The weapon being forged gets pounded on–a lot.

The analogy holds up all too well for the characters in this story. The mindblind slave Tazhret in the book blurb, needless to say, he was not originally a slave. And how he got into that condition, uncovering that is just the beginning of a vast, galaxy spanning plot.

The woman with the nut-brown hair, she’s real all right. And he shouldn’t have had the ability to find her in any dream state, even before he was mindblinded. But there’s that destiny thing again.

They have, not just one star-empire to save, but three. Three races who will all become slaves if they don’t uncover all of the deeply laid nefarious interlocking plans, before it is too late.

If you’re thinking that the slave is going to turn out to be a prince in disguise, you’d be wrong. He’s not. We’d call him an engineer, but among his people, the Scotians, it’s a bit more complicated.

But complicated in a spell-binding way. Rescuing the slave, restoring him to his true identity, starts a chain reaction. The conspiracy that made him a slave stretches back decades, and across the galaxy to the deadly enemy of the Scotian Realm, the Khevox Dominion. The Khevox once enslaved the entire Scotian people, and stands poised to make history repeat itself.

Unless one slave can defeat them. Again.

Escape Rating B+: I did think Tazhret would turn out to be a “lost prince”, and was surprised (and pleased) to discover that the author had not done anything nearly so obvious.

Instead the tale spins into intergalactic plots involving chillingly evil methods and villains who operate from the shadows.

What enthralled me was the way that the story kept peeling back, layer after layer, from a simple tale of one man’s fall into ruin, to something that encompasses empires. And a love worth any, and every sacrifice.

What drove me absolutely crazy was that the story is not complete in one volume. Forge is book one of the Thrall Web series. Fine and dandy. The series is off to an amazing start. But Forge ends on an absolutely hellish cliffhanger, and there is no projected publishing date for book two in the series.

Not fair. Are they saved? Are they damned? When will readers get to find out?

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Skies of Steel by Zoe Archer

Format read: ebook provided by Edelweiss
Formats available: ebook, Mass Market paperback
Genre: steampunk romance
Series: The Ether Chronicles #3
Length: 100 pages
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Date Released: October 9, 2012
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance

In the world of The Ether Chronicles, the Mechanical War rages on, and appearances are almost always deceiving . . . 

The prim professor
Daphne Carlisle may be a scholar, but she’s far more comfortable out in the field than lost in a stack of books. Still, when her parents are kidnapped by a notorious warlord, she knows she’ll need more than quick thinking if she is to reach them in time. Daphne’s only hope for getting across enemy territory is an airship powered and navigated by Mikhail Denisov, a rogue Man O’ War who is as seductive as he is untrustworthy.

The jaded mercenary
Mikhail will do anything for the right price, and he’s certain he has this mission—and Daphne—figured out: a simple job and a beautiful but sheltered Englishwoman. But as they traverse the skies above the Mediterranean and Arabia, Mikhail learns the fight ahead is anything but simple, and his lovely passenger is not entirely what she seems. The only thing Mikhail is certain of is their shared desire—both unexpected and dangerous.

The Mechanical War is a damn big war. If the first “world war” were fought, just a bit earlier, and with “ether” instead of guns and tanks (and still a few horses), would you get something like the war that Archer and Rosso have envisioned in their Ether Chronicles?

In this third glimpse into their fascinating construct of man/machines, airships and ether-powered horses (after Skies of Fire (review) and Night of Fire (review)) we see a totally different place and perspective. Skies of Fire showed the good guys (the Brits) and the perspective of those who serve her. Night of Fire switched to the Western U.S., but again, showed us folks wearing uniforms and/or badges fighting the good fight.

Skies of Steel gives us rebels. Han Solo as a bionic rebel and completely mercenary Man O’War helping a female Indiana Jones to ransom her parents from the desert warlord who kidnapped them.

Let  me explain…in this steampunk universe, the process that makes a man into a Man O’War, a man/machine, infuses his body with the metal telumium, and permanently bonds him to his airship. And absolutely vice-versa. So when Mikhail Mikhailovich Denisov goes rogue from the Russian fleet, his airship goes with him. He’s not the only rogue Man O’War, but governments don’t like to talk about their rogues. (Mikhail is also the man with the mohawk on the cover of the book. He likes the style. Really.)

Daphne Carlisle is an anthropologist who prefers studying cultures in the field to the academy. She may look like a simple academic, but she’s anything but. She’s equally deadly with a gun, or a deception.

Daphne deceives Mikhail over and over. Only one thing remains true. She will say, or do, absolutely anything, even the seemingly impossible, to save her parents. After the first lie is revealed, he should abandon her, take his ship, and leave. There is no profit in this fool’s venture for a mercenary.

But he stays and helps her anyway. With all her deceits, with all her tricks, Daphne has done one true thing. She has kept him from being bored and lonely. Her true quest to rescue her parents challenges him to find his own true heart, if it still exists.

After all, what mercenary would keep going on a job with no profit? Unless he’s pursuing something completely different?

Escape Rating B+: The terrific part of all the books in this series so far have been the two leads, and Mikhail and Daphne are no exceptions. They are fantastic. Mikhail’s increasing ennui, his boredom, his heartbreak at the loss of his family and purpose in life, while still feeling oh so responsible for his ship and crew is intense. He can’t let anyone down, but he’s already let himself down, and he’s not sure what he’s living for.

Daphne is desperate and courageous in her desperation. She doesn’t fit into the academic life, she belongs in the field. She’s so capable! She never needs to be rescued, what she needs is a partner.

The rescue of Daphne’s parents, all the different tasks Daphne and Mikhail had to perform, that was fantastic. (It also would have made an awesome video game!) You could feel them knitting together as a team.

But what did bother me a bit was the insta-connection in the beginning of the story. We never do find out why. They fall into instant rapport with each other. The other stories in this series were “second-chance at love” scenarios, where this one seemed to take the insta-connection as a short cut. (Maybe it’s the Han and Indy thing. He fell in love with himself after all!)

But I still raced through the book and can’t wait for the next one in the series, Nights of Steel. Next month.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Local Custom by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Format read: ebook purchased from Baen Books, audiobook purchased from Audible
Formats available: Mass Market paperback, Trade Paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Space Opera, Science Fiction Romance
Series: Liaden Universe #4
Length: 320 Pages
Publisher: Baen Books
Date Released: February 2001
Purchasing Info: Authors’ Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Master trader Er Thom knows the local custom of Liaden is to be matched with a proper bride, and provide his prominent clan Korval with an heir. Yet his heart is immersed in another universe, influenced by another culture, and lost to a woman not of his world. And to take a Terran wife such as scholar Anne Davis is to risk his honor and reputation. But when he discovers that their brief encounter years before has resulted in the birth of a child, even more is at stake than anyone imagined. Now, an interstellar scandal has erupted, a bitter war between two families–galaxies apart–has begun, and the only hope for Er Thom and Anne is a sacrifice neither is prepared to make…

I have been meaning to re-read the Liaden Universe books for a while now. I loved them when I initially read them (meaning I swallowed them whole) in 2005-2006, but haven’t kept up with the newer ones. That “so many books, so little time” problem rears its ugly little head yet again.

When I heard that Audible was releasing the entire series in audio, I decided that was my opportunity. I could listen to everything! “Foolish Terran!”as the Liadens might say.

Sometimes when we revisit a beloved book we remember fondly, the re-read makes us wonder what we saw in it the first time. Memory does not hold up on close re-inspection. This was absolutely not the case with Liaden.

I started with Local Custom, because that’s where I started the first time. There are multiple possible entry points for the Liaden Universe, but two of the traditional ones are Local Custom or Agent of Change. (Agent of Change was written first but Local Custom occurs first in the internal chronology with most of the same cast of characters.)

The story is every bit as marvelous the second time around as it was the first time. Possibly more so, as I understand the background without remembering every single detail of each individual book.

Local Custom is both space opera and romance. Er Thom yos’Galan knows his duty to his clan is to take a contract wife and provide his clan with an heir. Duty to the clan is everything to a Liaden. But his heart is still fixed on the Terran scholar Anne Davis, a woman he met while overseeing his clan’s far-ranging business as a Master Trader. He should have let the thought of her go long since, but he cannot. So he takes leave of all his obligations, and they are more than Anne Davis ever knew they were, to see her one last time, and say a final “Goodbye”. Only to discover that she has already given him his heir, not knowing that the Master Trader she loved is actually heir to the richest clan on Liaden. And that she and her son are now pawns in a deadly game.

Escape Rating A+: I wish I had more pluses to give. I started to listen to the Audible recording, and became so caught up in the story that I found myself hunting for excuses to do things that would let me listen longer. I wasn’t getting anything else done!

I gave up and bought the entire ebook bundle from Baen, and finished the book that way. I enjoyed the audio, but it was just taking too long. My only regret about the audio is that Audible wasn’t able to get the rights for the original audio recording by Michael Shanks. I would love to hear him read the story as Er Thom.

If you enjoy space opera, and have never read the Liaden Universe books, start now. If you like romance in your science fiction, start with Local Custom. If you prefer more adventure and intrigue in the mix, choose Agent of Change as your starting point. But start now.

(If you do read ebooks, Baen is very reasonable about ebook prices. Everything is either $5 or $6 and they have downloads for every format you can think of: Kindle, EPUB, RTF, HTML, Read Online! Baen also does not use DRM.)

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Paradise 21 by Aubrie Dionne

Format read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: Trade Paperback, ebook
Genre: Science Fiction Romance
Series: A New Dawn #1
Length: 247 pages
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Date Released: August 2, 2011
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Aries has lived her entire life aboard mankind’s last hope, the New Dawn, a spaceship traveling toward a planet where humanity can begin anew–a planet that won’t be reached in Aries’ lifetime. As one of the last genetically desirable women in the universe, she must marry her designated genetic match and produce the next generation for this centuries-long voyage.
But Aries has other plans.

When her desperate escape from the New Dawn strands her on a desert planet, Aries discovers the rumors about pirates–humans who escaped Earth before its demise–are true. Handsome, genetically imperfect Striker possesses the freedom Aries envies, and the two connect on a level she never thought possible. But pursued by her match from above and hunted by the planet’s native inhabitants, Aries quickly learns her freedom will come at a hefty price.

The life of the man she loves.

The classic science fiction line is that “the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or of the one”. Mr. Spock is, after all, the authority on this sort of thing.

But what happens when you’re that “one” and you absolutely hate your lot in life taking care of the needs of that all-important “many”? And who decides what’s best, anyway?

The New Dawn is a generation ship, centuries out from a destroyed Earth, and centuries away from a new home planet. The crew/colony of the New Dawn have been raised in the belief that they carry the best genetic stock from the old world, and that their only destiny is to marry the mate the computer determines is the best genetic match from the available crew. Love and even psychological compatibility don’t enter into the equation.

The man Aries Ryder has been matched with is Lieutenant Astor Barliss. Astor is a ruthless officer–proud, ambitious, ruthless and manipulative. He’ll do anything to get ahead. It’s amazing that anyone in his ancestry was considered a perfect specimen of anything.

He’s also an abuser. Aries know that marriage to him will be a living hell. Astor has done everything he can, every minute, to kill her spirit, even just as her fiance. When they are married, he will have complete control over her. She would rather be dead.

Aries plans an escape, meticulously, carefully, as the New Dawn passes the desert world of Sahara 354. She finds that all of her education, her programming about uninhabited worlds was incorrect, as was the mis-information she was taught about the so-called inferior humans that the colonists left behind on Earth when they fled.

Because she is rescued by the descendant of one of those supposedly “lesser” humans on Sahara, a pirate named Striker, and finds him not inferior, but far superior to the people she left behind on New Dawn. Because Striker thinks and acts for himself. He wants a friend and a partner, not a mindless drone following some ancient “Code” by rote.

Aries falls in love with freedom, and with the man who represents that freedom, all too quickly. Striker keeps his emotions to himself. He’s been betrayed before. But he will help her get free of the tyrant who pursues her, or die trying.

Because Astor Bayliss refuses to give up what he thinks is his and cuts through half the planet of Sahara to get Aries back, terrorizing a whole company of his fellow colonists in the process.

The New Dawn may be headed for paradise, but Bayliss’ conduct and the rewards he receives for it reveal that its methods of getting there are anything but utopian.

And Striker, well, once he’s lost Aries, he discovers that he felt a lot more for her than he thought. Enough to rescue her from the middle of a whole ship full of hostile colonists–no matter what the cost.

Escape Rating B: Paradise 21 is a very solid beginning to Dionne’s science fiction romance series, A New Dawn. The next books in the series are Tundra 37, A Hero Rising and Haven 6, and I’m definitely looking forward to reading them!

While on the one hand, I did find Striker’s and Aries relationship a bit too close to “insta-love” to be totally believable, I was fascinated by the portrayal of life aboard the generation ship, and how the “Code” was fraying around the edges.

I did wonder how things had evolved so that women were that completely subservient to men. It could happen, I just wondered how and why. In that small and closed a group, every hand and every brain would seem to be needed.

What does a totally closed society do with people who don’t quite conform, like Aries and Barliss? Interesting solutions in each case made for a fascinating story.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Yesterday’s Heroes by Heather Long

Format read: ebook from author and tour host
Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Boomers #1
Length: 89 p.
Publisher: Carina Press
Purchasing Info:Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance Ebooks

Rory knows she’s being watched, and she’s not about to let the hunter catch her in his trap. She’ll confront her stalker, a man she suspects is involved in the disappearances of other superheroes—if she can ignore the sensual heat that fills her every time he’s near…

Michael Hunter
Codename: Hard Target
Abilities: expert tracker and sniper
Mission: kill Rory Graystone

One of five desperate men sent back in time to save the future, Michael believes eliminating Rory is the key to his mission. But even as he takes aim, a split second of doubt causes him to miss his shot.

Drawn together by passion, and on a collision course with fate, can Rory and Michael work together to change the future? Or have they set in motion the horrific history the time travelers are trying to prevent?

Tomorrow is yesterday.

It is for Michael Hunter and the men of his Bio-Mechanical Recon Unit. The Boomers. In 2115 this group of men with forbidden superpowers is sent back in time, in order to prevent the future that has branded them worse than outlaws.

In 1969 they start over as sleeper agents, blending in and waiting. Hoping to prevent the key events that their future believes will make a better tomorrow. In addition to the superpowers they were born with, they’ve been given a chemical cocktail to help them heal and survive the 150 years of waiting…while they change the future. Or is it the past.

Telepath, shapechanger, bioweapon, supersoldier, and tactician. A team. With instructions about the key points and people that should make the timeline shift in favor of less retrictions on supers. Heck, less restrictions on everyone.

9/11 was one of those key points. That’s a chilling thought. And it grounds the story in the real. The only problem is that the Boomers weren’t successful in derailing the train to future nightmare city.

Forty plus years after their insertion point, things aren’t going so well. They’ve missed their targets. The bad future is still on course. That’s when the story begins, and the future changes.

The Boomers know who the bad guy is in 2115. Their plan is to wipe him out before he takes power. In order to bring Hans Geiger out of the shadows, the plan is to assassinate his daughter, Aurora Greystone.

But the data is faulty. Aurora Greystone is a super. Just like the Boomers. She thinks they’re responsible for the disappearance of two of her teammates. So instead of a planned hit, this is a game of cat and mouse. Her super ability to sense the probabilities cancels out his tactical skills.

Michael Hunter has to confront the only person he’s ever shot at, and missed. He’s followed her for weeks, and she tempts him beyond all reason. This confrontation, it shouldn’t happen, but he can’t resist.

Rory knows she’s being stalked, and she’s let it happen. She’s told herself it’s to find out what happened to her teammates, but that’s not all it is. She wants to hunt the hunter. He tempts her beyond all sense.

Their confrontation is explosive in a way that neither of them imagined. They should kill each other. Instead, they claim each other. To the point that Michael turns on one of his own to protect Rory.

And his implant, silent for twenty years, comes back to life. Rory might bring the future back on track. Or destroy it.

If they can figure out which before it’s too late.

Escape Rating A-: Mix the Terminator with the X-Men, and add some werewolf fated mate trope for flavor, and you’ve got something like Yesterday’s Heroes. But there’s more.

The idea of traveling back in time to fix the present is definitely Terminator-esque, but what I liked about the way that it gets handled in Yesterday’s Heroes was that knife-in-the-gut twist, that the Boomers might have created the bad history they want to prevent by going back in time.

There’s also the heartbreak that one of the Boomers had a life in the future he wanted to get back to, one way or another. Once Rory and Michael change the path, the future that the Boomers came from will not be the one they live to see, if they manage to live to see it. For Rex, there’s a ton of pain in the new future. His story would be a three-hankie special.

I ended up with some questions. Who is/was Hans Geiger? In the future, he’s the dictator. He’s supposed to be Rory’s father. She says he’s not. She’s being honest, but that may mean that she doesn’t know that he’s her father. Or, since in the future he’s the big bad (he’s also immortal) the whole Boomer project may have been designed to bring about his reign of terror. The whole thing could be a conspiracy.

I’d also have liked a bit more explanation of why Michael and Rory literally had the instant chemistry. And it seemed to be actual chemistry. It was necessary for the plot to work, but it never got explained. Was it something about them both being supers? Did it have to do with the chemicals used on the Boomers, and if so, why did it also affect Rory? Or was it part of Rory’s talent for finding the only avenue to survival, and if so, why did it work on Michael?

Too many possibilities, and no way to get answers until the next book. I want the next book!

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Undercover Alliance

One of the neat things about genres like science fiction romance is that the author gets to use the science fiction part of the blend to “play” with or comment on some of the aspects of the human experience from a slightly different perspective.

Undercover Alliance by Lilly Cain lives up to its claim of being erotic science fiction romance. And it does a very good job of it, too!

But the alien race in her Confederacy Treaty series, the Inarrii, are not merely empathic, they literally require sexual healing as a means of processing tension and staying sane. Their bodies, although very similar to humans. are covering in l’inar, lines of nerve endings that convey and express pleasure, pain, stress and every emotion.

Undercover Alliance is the story of an Inarrii woman, a warrior named Sarina. Her l’inar were permanently damaged in battle, but she survived. However, with her l’inar severed, everyone believes that she will eventually lose her sanity, because she cannot achieve the full mind-contact and sexual release that is needed for an Inarrii to de-stress and remain sane.

Sarina thinks she’d be fine if she could just keep working. She’s a trained warrior. She thinks if she keeps doing her job, eventually a battle will solve the problem for her. The enemy won’t mind if she’s damaged goods.

But her own people are afraid that she’ll go berserk and don’t trust her in a combat company. So they assign her as a bodyguard to a low-status human during the final stages of the Human-Confederacy Alliance treaty negotiations — while they wait for her to crack.

The only problem is that her supposedly low-status human charge isn’t. He’s an undercover Spaceforce Security agent sent to make sure that the treaty does get signed. There are both human terrorists and alien Raveners out to break the alliance before it begins.

And John Norton absolutely hates pretending to be a bureaucrat. But not quite as much as he hates having to even let it look like he’s letting someone else handle his security. He’s used to working strictly alone. No partners.

It’s only in the silence of his own mind that he can think about how much he really wants to be in charge of everything…including his strong and beautiful bodyguard. It astonishes, and delights him, when she reads his thoughts enough to decide that maybe they can try being in charge of each other. Or take turns. Or all of the above.

Then someone tries to blow up their section of the ship. And only their section of the ship. Along with John’s cover story. While they are fleeing from marauders and fighting for their lives, John and Sarina discover that the moments between life and death are a great time to reach past the broken places for something wonderful.

They’re just not sure if they can hang on once the shooting stops.

Escape Rating B+Undercover Alliance is the third book in Cain’s Confederacy Treaty series, after Alien Revealed and The Naked Truth. The series keeps getting better.

Undercover Alliance reveals a bit more of the world behind the story, and I enjoy seeing how they get where they are. Unfortunately, not everyone on Earth would welcome an alliance. There would be terrorists, damn it. Whatever we do, someone is always against it.

The Raveners remind me a bit of the Reavers from Firefly. I don’t think they’re that bad, but the name is close. There are always the good guys and the bad guys. And politics. Undercover Alliance has the political story in the background, making sure the treaty gets signed.

We also see that the Inarrii are just different from humans. Some of those differences are physical, not just the l’inar, but also that they are stronger, see better in low light, have better hearing. But also their society works differently. And it should. They aren’t human.

I hope there are more books in this universe. I want to see what happens next. Now that the treaty is signed, do the Raveners come in force?


Alien Revealed

First contact. In the story of Alien Revealed, the sexy science fiction romance by Lilly Cain, that phrase about the protocols surrounding the first meeting between humans and aliens takes on some amazing new variations.

And I don’t think any of them are quite what Star Fleet might have had in mind. Although Jim Kirk probably did. 😉

But in this first contact story, the humans are the less scientifically developed race being contacted by the more scientifically advanced Inarrii. And the contact is accidental. As in collision.

Agent Alinna Gaerrii has been observing the human Starforce installation from her covert base on the moon. Some of that observation has included a bit of close-in flying in a stealth pod. That’s what got her in trouble. An unscheduled airjet swerved into the airspace over the base and collided with her pod. The resulting crash wasn’t pretty. The airjet’s passengers were killed, and Alinna’s pod, with all of its alien technology, hit the trees. Alinna survived, just barely, but it was exactly the kind of situation for which self-destruct signals were created.

The humans were not supposed to know that they were being observed, Not quite yet. Alinna was just about ready to return to the Confederacy Alliance base on Jupiter’s moon Europa to report that the humans would be excellent candidates to join the Alliance against the brutal Raveners. The diplomatic team would return to begin treaty negotiations.

Instead, Alinna, wounded and bleeding, was found by Starforce pilots investigating the crash site. Also found was a small piece of melted plastic, the last remains of her ship.

Starforce Major David Brown mistakenly identifies Alinna as the psychtech who was supposed to have been aboard that airjet. The one who was scheduled to evaluate his Special Forces team before their mission to Mars.

Alinna decides to go along with the mistaken identity, using her Inarrii abilities of reading emotions as a way of observing the humans up close. Even though she will break every protocol of observation that an Agent is supposed to maintain, she is certain the information will be worth it. Everything she’s seen of the humans shows that they are exactly the allies the Confederacy needs.

But David Brown is a shock. Because Alinna can reach him, mind-to-mind, as though he were another Inarrii. Which he manifestly is not.

That any human can achieve mind contact makes the humans even more valuable as potential allies than anyone could have guessed. They can be full partners.

But for Alinna, alone and isolated for far too long for one of her people, David is much more. The mind contact that he initiates in his dreams soothes her. Inarrii need touch almost as much as food and water; and Alinna has been alone for months.

When those dream-meetings, and dream-matings, move into the real they discover that they might have something worth changing their lives for … if they can get past their very big differences. And the people who are shooting at them.

Escape Rating B: As I said in my review of the second book in Cain’s Confederacy Treaty series, The Naked Truth, this science fiction romance leans a little more on the romance side of the equation than the science fiction side.

However, maybe because Alien Revealed is the first book in the series (Undercover Alliance is third, and it’s due out in June) a lot of the science fiction worldbuilding takes place in Alien Revealed. Which I liked seeing.

Even if I think that the base security is weaker than it should be. But folks snuck into Stargate Command who shouldn’t have, too. I did love some of the fun touches, such as the bit about the folks who really, really wanted to meet an alien were nicknamed You-fo’s, derived from UFOs, and no one ever believed them. Until all of a sudden they were right.

The Zurian Child

The Zurian Child by Jessica E. Subject is the first book in her Mark of the Stars series. The actual “Zurian Child” of the title is a girl named Katrina (I wonder if naming her for the hurricane will be prophetic) but this first book isn’t really her story.

Katrina is a “chosen one”. She is fated to save her people. But she has to be born first. In The Zurian Child, readers are introduced to Katrina through the love story of her parents.

We also read of the harrowing exile of the Hemera people from their home planet, Alectrona. The very human-like Hemera flee to Earth just ahead of the monstrous Erebus, who hunt them across the stars.

Yes, I said stars. The Zurian Child is science fiction romance.

Hemera mostly blend into the human population, with a few key differences. They have webbed toes, and hidden gills, so they can breathe underwater. Hemera pregnancies are faster than human, so instead of 9 months, it seems to be about 7 months for a full-term baby. And sex once equals mates until death. All those differences have consequences for our story.

Oh, and the Erebus definitely follow the Hemera to Earth. They like it here. This is NOT a good thing. Not for the Hemera, not for the humans, and not for the Earth.

Bryce was the last child to reach the Hemera ships before the Erebus wiped out the final city. His parents didn’t make it. He was adopted on Earth by a human family, but his Hemera guardian made sure he remembered who he was and where he came from. He kept an eye out for other Hemera who hadn’t been so fortunate.

His guardian, Lorne, had been his foster father on the ship. It was Lorne’s grandmother who had made the prophecy of the “Zurian Child”. the child who would be born with the “Mark of the Stars” and who would save the people. Bryce and others searched for that child among the second and third generation Hemera.

As a member of the RCMP, Bryce was also in a position to learn that someone was systematically hunting down the Hemera. The investigators were always one step behind.

Bryce spent his life concentrating on his search for the Zurian Child, and on his efforts to find and destroy the Erebus. He made sure never to get involved with anyone, because he knew it would mean a lifetime commitment. And he already had two of those: to his search, and to protecting his people.

Then he met Lindsay, and it was too late. She was already bonded to another Hemera, his friend and fellow officer Quinn. Even worse, the first time he shook Lindsay’s hand, he realized that she was his intended soul mate. And it didn’t matter. Her bond to his friend was already in place. All Bryce could do was be a friend and protector. And that was all Lindsay wanted from him.

But there were other factors in play. The Erebus were increasingly active on Earth, but their methods had changed. And they began to specifically target Lindsay and Quinn because they were the destined parents of the fated Zurian Child. And as far as the Erebus were concerned, the Zurian Child had to be stopped, at all costs.

Escape Rating B-: This was an interesting variation on the “chosen one” theme. it’s always fun to start with the parents’ love story — I liked Cordelia’s Honor much better than the early Miles Vorkosigan books! This has an added twist with Bryce as the “odd man out” in someone else’s love story, but it is so important that he be there. It’s a different, and painful perspective.

There are parts with the Erebus and their minions that were slightly squicky. Not because they’re evil, it’s about their collaborator. Read the book and you’ll see for yourself. Someone always gives in to the dark side, but the behavior of this person went a bit too far into the ick-factor for my taste.

The next book in this saga (trilogy?) is going to start focusing more on Katrina. She’ll be old enough to have a point of view and she’s very precocious, although that’s not the only issue. I’m curious enough about what’s going to happen to her next that I’m in for the next book.

(This review copy was provided by Sizzling PR. The author requested additional reviews around the time of the book tour that just wrapped up.)