Review: Warriors of the Wind by Anna Hackett

Title: Tempest (Warriors of the Wind #1)
Author: Anna Hackett
Format read: eARC
Formats available: ebook
Genre: fantasy romance
Series: Warriors of the Wind #1
Length: 108 pages
Publisher: Anna Hackett
Date Released: July 31 2017
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon

One of five brothers granted the power of the wind, Lorenzo Venti is Keeper of the Winds. A loner at heart, he’s fine that his duty to keep the evil Tempest Winds trapped on their island prison, keeps him isolated and alone. After seeing his father murdered by the Winds, he’s made an oath to keep them locked away. Besides, he prefers his work with his horses to annoying people anyway. But his powerful foes are rising, and when one infuriating, tempting woman arrives on his island, she threatens everything…

Bright, vivacious horse trainer Riley Donovan is drawn to big, brooding loner Lorenzo, and she’s planning to chase down the stubborn man once and for all. She knows he has demons, and it makes her own powers stir–powers she vowed never to use again when her mother was killed. But as their scorching attraction explodes, they find themselves in the center of a dangerous tempest…and now the fates of both their world and their hearts hang in the balance.


Title: Storm & Seduction (Warriors of the Wind #2
Author: Anna Hackett
Format read: eARC
Formats available: ebook
Genre: fantasy romance
Series: Warriors of the Wind #2
Length: 186 pages
Publisher: Anna Hackett
Date Released: July 31st 2017
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon

Storm: the last thing he expects on his hunt is an alluring assassin out to kill him.

Shipping magnate Dante Venti is also the Warrior of the South Wind. With the terrifying Tempest Winds loose, it is his duty to scour the streets of Rome on the hunt for one of the dangerous winds, who is infecting the city with the vice of pride. Dante feels pride dragging him down, and now that the Aurae are all dead, be must fight on alone…until he finds himself attacked by a deadly assassin who tries to slit his throat.

Samia Hassan is the brotherhood’s best assassin, or at least she was. Now she’s on a mission to prove herself and end her lethal target. But Dante Venti is not what she expected, and as she finds herself drawn to him, she senses something is not right with her mission. Dante is not the evil being she was told he was, and instead she sees a sexy, handsome man fighting to protect the world. As Dante and Samia circle each other, a storm is growing…and Samia may be the only thing that can help Dante survive it.

Seduction: trapped, naked, and chained with a beautiful woman who can never be his.

Antonio Venti, Warrior of the West Wind, wakes up in chains, the prisoner of the deadly nemesis he hunts. An evil Tempest Wind is spreading the vice of lust across the city of Florence, and he has vowed to break Antonio. With no Aurae mate to soothe the vices, Antonio feels his body heating with desire, and he fights his reaction with every fiber of his being. But all that changes when his cunning prey locks him up naked with his ultimate temptation–the one woman he craves above all else.

Sophia Crane has given up on rich, cheating men. She’s come to Italy to heal her broken heart, focus on her art restoration, and discover the truth about the legends of the Warriors of the Wind. But when she wakes up naked and locked in a room with her sexy boss–a man she’s been avoiding–she knows something is desperately wrong. As Sophia and Antonio fight their scorching desire, she learns the terrible truth about the Tempest Winds and Antonio’s struggle to fight back. Sophia watches him being dragged down by lust, and she realizes that she may either be Antonio’s salvation…or his greatest downfall.

My Review:

Way, way back in 2009, Anna Hackett began her Windkeepers series. As many of Anna’s books as I have read, I haven’t read those. It was one of those things I meant to go back to. Someday, when I got a round tuit. And some copious free time.

Now I don’t have to. She has revised, revamped and updated that series into Warriors of the Wind, and I was fortunate enough to receive the first two books of the updated series for review, which actually contain the first three tales of the Warriors of the Wind. Because these stories are relatively short, more like novelette length than even novella length, I decided to review those first two books together.

So, on to book 1, Tempest and book 2, Storm & Seduction.

The foundation of this series lies in the Roman, Greek (and other) pantheons, and in their personification of the winds. The Romans called them “Venti”, and that is the name of this family of Wind Keepers that has protected the Earth for ages.

The Brothers Venti are the good guys. Their nemeses, the Tempest Winds, are very definitely the villains of this piece. It is the duty of the Venti, handed down through the ages, to keep the Tempest Winds contained and prevent them from causing too much trouble. While the Venti brothers’ winds represent the cardinal points of the compass, North, South, East and West, they keep the Tempests from the Northeast, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest in check.

The Venti brothers also represent powers that are kept in check, while the Tempests represent powers that are let loose to run amuck. Anger kept in check can be good, anger let completely loose pits friend against friend and brother against brother, and leads fairly quickly to war. It’s the same with the other powers, those of Pride, Lust and Greed. Controlled is good, let off the leash is bad.

The series begins in Tempest, when those pesky Tempest Winds break loose from the island where they have been imprisoned. Running that prison is the duty of the fifth Venti brother, in this case Lorenzo. He is certain that he doesn’t need any help to do his duty and keep the Tempest Winds contained.

Of course he needs help, and that help comes in the form of horse-trainer Riley Donovan. She is exactly what he needs, both as a man and as the Keeper of the Winds. But in order for him to accept that help, he needs to get his head out of his rather gorgeous ass. And let Riley in.

The pattern for Storm & Seduction is similar to Tempest. Now that the Tempest Winds are on the loose, they are each gunning for the brother who is most susceptible to their evil wiles, of which they have many.

Each of the battles that the brothers face are slightly different, and the women they need to help them are very definitely cut from different cloths. Riley is a horse trainer, Sophia an art restorer, and Samia a trained assassin. But they each have powers of their own, powers that the Venti brothers desperately need for their battles. And for their hearts.

Escape Rating B: These are fun. Also very sexy. There is nothing tame about the winds or about anything in any of these relationships. But they are terrific little stories if you like your romance on the hot and steamy side.

Because these are short (I want to say sweet but really they’re short and naughty) that there is a clear pattern to the stories is just fine. It’s not something that would work as well in a longer novel, but for this length, the story needs to move at a very fast pace, and these do.

There’s also more than a hint of the “fated mate” trope, but again, that works to speed up the action and the story, and makes sense in context. “Fated mate” is always a bit contrived, but in this case the contrivance worked.

I liked the characters, especially the women. The men are rather similar to each other, but then, they are brothers. But the women are all different and they all stand up for themselves against some very powerful enemies. And even more powerful lovers.

A good reading time was definitely had by all. I’m looking forward to the updated versions of the rest of the series in Fury & Darkness.

Review: Return to Dark Earth by Anna Hackett

return to dark earth by anna hackettFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Phoenix Adventures #7
Length: 200 pages
Publisher: Anna Hackett
Date Released: September 9, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, GoodreadsAmazon

His career plan never included becoming one of the galaxy’s most infamous treasure hunters. And it certainly never included his one weakness: Nera Darc.

Astro-archeologist Niklas Phoenix loved his job studying and safeguarding artifacts at the Institute of Historical Preservation…until he learned that it was all a lie. Forced out of the Institute, he joins his treasure hunter brothers, but now the Institute is trying to lure him back for the ultimate treasure hunt–a return to the planet that seeded life throughout the galaxy. But only one thing convinces him to go–his deadly, seductive rival has joined the expedition.

Dangerous and enigmatic, Nera Darc has made a life for herself where she calls the shots and bows to no one. Niklas Phoenix has become her dark obsession and on the lethal mission to Earth, they are compelled to join forces to survive. But Niklas threatens to tear down Nera’s internal walls and melt the ice around her heart…but she knows caring for someone is just a weakness others can exploit.

As Nik and Nera strip away each other’s secrets, a brilliant passion is unleashed, but the dangers of Earth strike from every side, and a darker enemy is closing in.

My Review:

This one definitely had its scary moments. It was totally awesome, but there were points where I was completely creeped out. All in the service of an excellent story. One that reminds me a bit of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine. It felt like I met the Morlocks, and they are us.

The Phoenix Adventures are all about the Phoenix Brothers, and occasionally their cousins, who are intergalactic treasure hunters (think Han Solo’s time period combined with Indiana Jones’ profession, and if you envision a young Harrison Ford it doesn’t hurt – at all!)

in the devils nebula by anna hackettSo far, two of the Phoenix Brothers, Dathan and Zayn, have found their true loves, In At Star’s End (review) and In the Devil’s Nebula (review) but their youngest brother Niklas has been left out in the cold. He left his career as an astro-archaeologist behind when he discovered that the famous Galactic Institute of Historic Preservation is run by a bunch of cut-throat, corrupt smugglers. He decided to join his brothers and do honest treasure hunting instead. All ironies intended. The prestigious Institute is a gang of thieves, and he and his brothers, mercenary treasure hunters, are pretty much above board.

He’s also too wrapped up in the mysterious treasure-hunter Nera Darc to find someone else he could love the way that his brothers do their wives. The way that Darc keeps showing up in their hunts and either stealing the prize right out from under them, or helping to save their lives (sometimes both), keeps Nik hoping for more.

Then the Institute, his former employers, recruit him for a treasure hunt of their own. When Darc joins the expedition, Nik can’t resist. Not that he was resisting much in the first place. The expedition is going to be the first to go back to old Earth, our Earth, to see what artifacts might be left after centuries of nuclear winter.

The last expedition to even observe the cradle of humanity from space found only black seas, grey land and lethally high radiation. Earth has gone dark.

But as Nik’s expedition discovers, not as dead as everyone thought. Just deadly enough that their expedition is going to leave more than a few bodies on its surface. The only question is whether one of those bodies will be Nik’s, with Nera Darc right beside him.

Or has the corrupt Institute finally over-extended its filthy reach?

at stars end by anna hackettEscape Rating A-: For those of us who have been with this series from the beginning At Star’s End, it’s been a long and wild ride to get to this glorious finish.

And it was so worth it.

There have always been questions about what exactly happened with Nik and the Institute. He gave up the career he loved, but he didn’t fight to right the wrongs he uncovered. That’s not Nik. That’s not any of the Phoenix Brothers. It was terrific to finally get the answers to exactly what went wrong. It was even better to have those wrongs finally come right.

There has also always been a question (or two or three dozen) about Nera Darc and why she finds it necessary to keep taunting the Phoenix Brothers and especially why she keeps teasing Nik. She obviously has some feelings beyond simple rivalry, but she never sticks around long enough for Nik to explore them. She’s the one that keeps getting away, and he needs to figure out why or find a way to move past her. This expedition is Nik’s chance to get to know Nera and discover if all that teasing can possibly lead to something more.

The revelations of Nera’s background are heart-breaking. That she uses her past pain to help someone else in need is a wonderful part of the story, and shows how much she has healed. The fits and starts in her developing relationship with Nik show just how far she still needs to go.

But in the middle of the building romance, there is the expedition. While it is pretty clear from the beginning who is gunning for Nik (and who else is gunning for Nera), some of the ulterior motives were a surprise. Not that expedition leader Avril didn’t come off as way too good to be true, but the depths of what she was covering up were deeper and more disgusting than I imagined.

The story of the expedition itself, both what they find and how they find it, chilled me to the bone. The portrait of the post-apocalyptic dark Earth is appropriately awful. The explanations of how things got to their final pass make all too much sense.

But what they see is frightening. The results of screwing it all up so very badly. At first, they believe that our world is dead. Then they discover that it is much, much worse. And also slightly better, but in a very twisted way.

The landscape is against them, and so is the extremely mutated wildlife. The oceans are black, and the land consists of black sand blast radii and deadly and mutated plant life, with even more mutated and deadly animal life. It’s a world that has turned on itself and turns on anyone who tries to discover its secrets.

Their final attempt at wrenching out some of the planet’s secrets says way more about them than it does about what they discover. The Institute attempts a rape of cultural misappropriation on an epic scale, and it finally bites them in the ass. Just because people seem primitive doesn’t mean that they aren’t way better at exploiting their environment than you are. It also doesn’t mean that they aren’t better people than you are. Technological superiority does not mean actual superiority.

The scenes of the surviving human population did remind me of the Morlocks in H.G. Wells Time Machine, and seemed all too plausible, where Wells did not.

And in this case, it wasn’t just that the so-called natives had way more moral superiority than the Institute, it was that in this case they managed to prevail. Technological superiority turned out not to mean more civilized. Or even more human.

Reviewer’s note: I am reviewing this a bit early, because I just couldn’t stand to wait. The complete blurb and the buy links will be added next week when they become available. If you love this series, or science fiction romance, you’ll understand why I couldn’t hold back. 

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: Among Galactic Ruins by Anna Hackett

among galactic ruins by anna hackettFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Phoenix Adventures #0.5
Length: 100 pages
Publisher: Anna Hackett
Date Released: July 7, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

When astro-archeologist Lexa Carter discovers a map to an old Earth treasure, she’s thrilled about a treasure hunt to a dangerous, desert planet—but not about being saddled with head of security, Damon Malik. She thinks he’s arrogant. He thinks she’s a trouble magnet. But when the hunt turns deadly, they’ll have to trust each other just to survive.

My Review:

In At Star’s End, the first novel in the Phoenix Adventures series, intergalactic treasure hunter Dathan Phoenix finds himself assisting astro-archaeologist Dr. Eos Rai in her hunt for a long-lost Terran treasure. And falling head over heels in love with the determined and beautiful scientist.

Now we know that this was fated, not by any biological fated-mate trope, but because when Dathan first struck out on his own as a treasure hunter, he assisted Damon Malik and Dr. Alexa Carter find a long-lost Terran treasure on his home planet of Zerzura.

Dathan was in his late teens, old enough to be rather freely sowing his wild oats as he criss-crossed Zerzura guiding treasure hunters and travelers over the planet. As he observes security expert Damon Malik fall head over heels for the very feisty, and extremely determined, Alexa Carter, Dathan is rather flippant about his intention to spread his charm over as many ladies as he can for as long as he’s able. He’s sure he’ll never get tied down to one woman.

at stars end by anna hackettMalik essentially curses him to find someone just like Alexa, or Dathan curses himself when he says, “Not sure I’ll ever find class like Dr. Carter, here. And I don’t want some astro-archeologist who’ll bitch at me for being a treasure hunter.” Of course, that’s exactly what he gets in At Star’s End (enthusiastically reviewed here).

But Among Galactic Ruins, while it certainly foreshadows At Star’s End, is really about the relationship between Dr. Alexa Clark and Damon Malik. Not that there aren’t plenty of parallels in their relationship to Dathan’s story.

Dr. Alexa Clark is the head curator at a prestigious private museum. Damon Malik is the conscientious and rather secretive head of security. Her ingenious exhibits are security nightmares, but extremely successful.

They both have pasts that they are trying to outrun. Malik grew up on a gang planet and was rescued by a Galactic Security Services officer he tried to pickpocket. While Alexa grew up the privileged daughter of a wealthy businessman on an inner-ring planet, it was a gilded cage that she was expected to remain in for the rest of her life. She rebelled and made her own way through school and into a profession that she loves.

Alexa has found a map, encoded on an ancient vase, to the location of one of the fabled, lost Faberge eggs of old Earth. Her map, full of cryptic clues, leads to the planet Zerzura, once a lush paradise, now a desert wasteland.

Alexa has always wanted to go on an expedition, and this is her chance. Her boss, concerned for her safety as well as that of the artifact she seeks, sends Malik along for her protection. A protection she badly needs, as the planet is dangerous and there are all too many people who have searched for the Temple that is reputed to contain the egg.

The danger starts upon landing, when the planet throws up a deadly sandstorm and the guide who stiffed her sends thugs to her room to steal the map. While they fail, this is only the first in a series of troublesome dangers that turn out not to be a coincidence.

With their new guide, Dathan Phoenix, leading them out, Malik and Carter follow those cryptic clues to a long-concealed location, fending off predators both natural and otherwise along the way, only to find that they are facing yet one more, and seemingly final, trap.

In the end, it is Alexa’s love of the profession that her father despised that saves the day for all of them.

Escape Rating A-: Okay, I’ll admit that if you’ve read At Star’s End, you can pretty much guess how Among Galactic Ruins is going to go. Which doesn’t make it any less fun, not by any stretch of the imagination.

It’s also fun to see Dathan Phoenix as a very young, and slightly less secure, man. Seeing Dathan interact with Damon Malik, it makes you wonder how much young Dathan modeled himself on Malik, who has become pretty much the kind of man that Dathan would like to be.

Damon Malik is a much better role model than Dathan’s real father, the drunken and disreputable Brocken Phoenix.

There are also elements of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, complete with Malik as the adult Indy and Dathan Phoenix (Dathan Phoenix equals River Phoenix?) as the young Indy. You can even see the resemblances if you squint. Among Galactic Ruins also reminded me a bit of Romancing the Stone, although Alexa Clark is a much more experienced and capable adventurer, even with her sheltered upbringing, than Joan Wilder in Stone.

The story in Among Galactic Ruins is an action/adventure romance. Malik and Clark fall in love during the high adrenaline rush of a dangerous treasure hunt. Because they already know each other, and mostly rub each other the wrong way, the brief love story doesn’t feel rushed, nor does it feel like insta-love. Their high-voltage arguments obviously conceal deeper feelings, and seem to have from the beginning. They start out combustible and the shared danger finally makes them combust!

In summary, Among Galactic Ruins is a sweet treat for fans of Hackett’s Phoenix Adventures, and a great place to start for someone who has yet to experience the fun of this terrific science fiction romance adventure series.

Reviewer’s Note: Among Galactic Ruins is currently available only as part of the Romancing the Alpha ebook “box” set. It will be available as a separate publication in August. When it will hopefully have its own cover.

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: On a Cyborg Planet by Anna Hackett

on a cyborg planet by anna hackettFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
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.

My Review:

on a rogue planet by anna hackettOn 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.

sci fi romance quarterlyOriginally published at Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: Beyond Galaxy’s Edge by Anna Hackett

beyond galaxy's edge by anna hackettFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Phoenix Adventures #5
Length: 213 pages
Publisher: Anna Hackett
Date Released: December 13, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

A sexy smuggler + a spit-and-polish Patrol captain = a fast-paced, adventure-filled sci fi romance

Ambitious Patrol Captain Nissa Sander has spent three years at the galaxy’s edge keeping the law and order, and chasing scoundrel smuggler, Justyn Phoenix. But the charming rogue has always outwitted her and she’s had a hard time ignoring his hard body and handsome face. But when one of the galaxy’s most important documents—the US Constitution—is stolen, Nissa finds herself working with the very man she’s been trying to throw in her brig.

Justyn Phoenix embraces life and offers everyone a wink and a smile. He’s also in love with a spit-and-polish Patrol captain. Yep, crazy in love, and he knows she’ll never love him back. But when the opportunity arises to work alongside Nissa on a wild and crazy mission to recover the US Constitution, he can’t resist.

But nothing on this treasure hunt is as it seems. The trail leads them to fake documents, rival treasure hunters, and a millennia old mystery. As the hunt takes them beyond the galaxy’s edge, Justyn and Nissa will face the firestorm of their desire, and soon learn if they can survive long enough to save the galaxy.

My Review:

If you want a rollicking good time of an SFR series, you absolutely can’t go wrong with Anna Hackett’s Phoenix Adventures. I love this entire series – it’s a terrific blend of sci-fi adventure with hot and heart-stopping romance.

The Phoenixes of the Phoenix Adventures are two sets of good looking rogues who are the opposite sides of one galaxy-spanning family. Brothers Dathan, Zayn and Niklas Phoenix operate a successful relic hunting company on the slightly more settled side of the galaxy, and their cousins Dare, Rynan and Justyn (also brothers) operate an equally successful but slightly less famous convoy-leading company (and smuggling business) out on the galaxy’s edge.

This is Justyn’s story, and it is quite a wild ride. Because Justyn the smuggler finds himself on a dangerous treasure hunt. And it’s all a very elaborate ploy. Justyn isn’t nearly as interested in the artifact he’s chasing as he is in the Galactic Security Services Captain who is chasing it.

Justyn has spent years putting himself in the way of Captain Nissa Sander. She never manages to find his contraband cargo, no matter how many times she stops and searches his ship. She’s completely unwilling to admit to herself that her encounters with Justyn are the high point of her job. She keeps fooling herself that a stellar career in Galactic Security Services is all she wants. And she’s damn good at it. But it isn’t what she wants for herself. It’s what she tells herself she wants in order to please her demanding father, a career GSS officer who never quite made it to the big leagues.

Justyn keeps letting Nissa catch him. He just makes sure she never catches him with anything he shouldn’t have. His ship has way more hidey-holes than Nissa will ever find. So he lets her keep finding him over and over, just so that he can see her. And tease her a bit. He knows that he’s not what she wants or deserves, but he can’t resist arranging those few minutes in her company.

They both believe that they will always be on opposite sides of a very high fence of legalities. Until someone breaks into a museum and steals one of the founding documents of interstellar law and democracy – the U.S. Constitution from old (meaning our) Earth.

The treasure hunt gets even more complicated when they chase down the thief – only to find out that the document he stole was a forgery – created almost a thousand years ago. Does the real Constitution even survive?

Nissa is tasked by her commanding officer to find the real constitution, if it exists, and deliver it to the admiral personally, and at any or all costs. The Phoenix brothers (both sets) enlist the aid of any family and friends they have to track the course of the ship originally carrying the Constitution, and trace it beyond the galaxy edge, outside the confines of civilized space.

Nissa has no jurisdiction beyond the edge, only a powerful motivation to protect her career and especially her father’s pension from the admiral’s machinations. But just as they get close, Nissa discovers that the superiors she has always relied on cannot be trusted. The only people she can count on are the Phoenix brothers who are out there with her. And especially Justyn.

When all hell breaks loose, and Justyn and Nissa finally find themselves on the same side. For once. And possibly forever.

at stars end by anna hackettEscape Rating A-: This was a terrific adventure. It had all the elements that made At Star’s End so much fun. Nissa is working for the forces of law and order, just as Eos planned to turn the relics she was hunting over to the Galactic Institute. Both Nissa and Eos were betrayed by the people who should have been on their side. And most importantly, neither Dathan nor Justyn were anywhere near as bad as their reputations were cracked up to be.

Not that Justyn isn’t a smuggler, because he is. But he seems to do it either mostly for sport, and teasing Nissa, or because he’s turning most of the profits over to an array of charities he supports on various convoy-stopover planets. He’s a little bit Robin Hood. He also mostly just carries small luxury items, like cigars or fancy booze. Nothing big, nothing worth killing over.

And he really likes to torment Nissa with the possibility of catching him.

Except for his unwillingness to admit that he’s been in love with Nissa for years, Justyn knows exactly what he’s doing.

Nissa, on the other hand, is kind of a mess. She’s a great GSS officer, but her heart isn’t in it. Her father cuts her to ribbons every single time they talk, and he’s always pressuring her about something. Basically, daddy is re-living his own career through Nissa, and her opinions generally don’t matter. She should be old enough to know better, but she seems to be conditioned to obedience, which really bites her in the ass when the admiral both bribes and blackmails her at the same time.

It was fairly obvious to this reader who the really evil person is in this mess. Nissa should have figured it out a hell of a lot sooner – it would have saved everyone a world of hurt. Of course, if she had, this story wouldn’t contain nearly as much edge-of-the-seat excitement, and our hero and heroine wouldn’t have been forced into close proximity so often that they were forced to acknowledge their mutual feelings.

Those two had enough frustrated chemistry to light the rocket boosters all by themselves. When they finally get close, its explosive.

sci fi romance quarterlyOriginally published at Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: Beneath a Trojan Moon by Anna Hackett

beneath a trojan moon by anna hackettFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Phoenix Adventures #4
Length: 85 pages
Publisher: self-published
Date Released: November 26, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KoboAll Romance

A flirtatious fortune teller + a sexy, single-minded marshal = a sexy, fast-paced sci fi romance

Fortune teller Relda Dela-Cruz is a woman with a secret. One she’ll do anything to conceal. She hides in plain sight on the market world of Souk, content with running her profitable fortune-telling business and never letting anyone too close. But when assailants attack her in pursuit of a powerful artifact, Relda collides with the city’s handsome, new marshal. A man who leaves no stone unturned and no secret covered.

War has left former Galactic Special Forces Captain Hunt Calder tired and empty, but one look at sexy Relda–with her wild curls and lush curves–brings him back to life. When she’s threatened over the mysterious Trojan Moon, Hunt will let nothing stop him from protecting her. Even Relda herself.

As they face alien attackers and killer droids, Relda can’t resist her burning attraction to Hunt. But she knows he’s the most dangerous threat of all, because he doesn’t just want her body, he wants her trust and her secret, too. A secret with the power to destroy Hunt and Relda, the city, even the planet itself.

My Review:

Unlike yesterday’s book, Beneath a Trojan Moon reads very much as a standalone, in spite of being book 4 in Anna Hackett’s Phoenix Adventures series.

In this short, sweet and sexy story, the home base of the famous or infamous Phoenix Brothers is a moon orbiting the planet Souk where this adventure takes place. While the Phoenix Brothers are mentioned (their moon is actually a repeating pun) the brothers (and their assorted cousins) only appear briefly as very much secondary (maybe tertiary) characters. The Phoenix Brothers provide setting and worldbuilding, but do not underpin the story.

at stars end by anna hackettIn other words, if you are looking for an entry into this marvelous series, Beneath a Trojan Moon is a good place to start. Almost as good as the excellent first book in the series, At Star’s End (enthusiastically reviewed here).

Instead, we have the story of one of the last survivors of a powerful and persecuted race, in possession of an artifact that has ties to old Earth (our Earth) but with extra added provenance and power.

The Hope Diamond is still dazzling, and it is still spreading its curse around the galaxy. It is also a powerful artifact that enhances the psychic powers of whoever holds it. In other words, it is still beautiful and precious, and it still leaves death in its wake.

Relda is one of the last of her people, and she is also the keeper of the Trojan Moon, a blue diamond that once graced the head of a goddess, and was once part of the French crown. Relda’s Trojan Moon is sought by collectors and would-be psychics, especially those with too much money and no scruples whatsoever.

Relda has been hiding in plain sight on Souk as a fortune-teller.Most people believe she is a talented faker, but in fact she is one of the last of the Vega-Lyrans, and seeing the future is just one of her many talents. Also just one of her many secrets.

Former Galactic Special Forces Captain Hunt Calder is the law on Souk. He’s also a Predian, which means he has a few extra-special talents up his rather muscular sleeve. One of those abilities allow him to sense a person’s heart and respiration rate. Unless someone is very, very good, and very, very heartless, Calder knows when someone is lying.

And he’s absolutely certain that Relda is lying through her beautiful teeth about why so many people are after her and the Trojan Moon, whatever that might be.

Putting her into protective custody in his own apartment allows Hunt and Relda to finally explore the chemistry that has been simmering between them, in spite of the necessary evasions that have kept them apart.

It also makes Relda a much easier target for the bad guys to find. The question is whether she can rescue herself before Hunt finds her, and whether or not that rescue just paints and even bigger target on both their backs.

Escape Rating A-: This one is short, sweet and sexy, more of an appetizer for this series where the novels have been main courses.

in the devils nebula by anna hackettI’m writing this at lunch time, so I may be a bit hungry, but I think the analogy still holds up. The novels in this series, At Star’s End, In the Devil’s Nebula and On a Rogue Planet include a heaping helping of adventure along with the sc-fi romance. Beneath a Trojan Moon is all about the romance between Relda and Hunt. The story just uses (and uses well) a science fictional setting that the author has already done a marvelous job setting up.

Hunt has quit GalCom and become a local lawman because he felt that the work he was doing for GalCom was turning him into an emotionless robot. But falling for Relda, someone he knows is hiding some awfully big secrets, is more of a stretch than he planned on.

Relda tells herself that Souk is just a temporary stopover in a life of running and hiding, but in 4 years she has put down more roots than she expected. She has made herself a home and isn’t quite aware of it.

Her surface awareness is that people who were afraid of the Vega-Lyrians have made all members of her species personae non grata on every planet, and that frightened people hunted her people, including her own parents, to death. Not for anything they actually did, but for what they were capable of.

Relda has the power to level the entire planet. Any planet. She’s rightfully afraid that if she reveals herself the mob will come for her too.

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-The-Collector-PosterAt the same time, she is constantly looking over her shoulder because there are collectors (just like The Collector in Guardians of the Galaxy) who will spend any amount of wealth to add both The Trojan Moon and Relda herself to their private collections.

This story comes to a marvelous head when Relda has to choose which is more important – revealing herself and while saving Hunt and her friends on Souk from a ship crash, knowing that the people of Souk may turn her in later themselves, or hiding and letting go of any chance of happiness, or even a future.

Beneath a Trojan Moon packs a lot of sci-fi wallop into a short story. I loved this little aperitif, and can’t wait to dive into another full-course story in the Phoenix Adventures.

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: On a Rogue Planet by Anna Hackett

on a rogue planet by anna hackettFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: ebook
Genre: Science Fiction Romance
Series: Phoenix Brothers #3
Length: 218 pages
Publisher: self published
Date Released: November 16, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, KoboAll Romance

Unlucky-in-love salvage mechanic, Malin Phoenix, didn’t intend to get caught up in a coup and kidnapped by a sexy cyborg. But she finds herself swept into an adventure to help the deadly, emotionless CenSec, Xander Saros, retrieve an ancient Terran artifact and save his planet.

Soon she’s racing across uncharted space and is magnetically drawn to the cyborg whose strong arms and muscled body ignite a desire that burns brighter than a supernova. But Mal can never let herself forget that she can’t fall in love with a cyborg who can never love her back.

The crowning glory of the Centax Security program, Xander is heavily enhanced, his emotions dampened to nothing to allow him to be the most efficient, lethal killer in the galaxy. As he and Malin hunt for the remnant of the galaxy’s first computer, the Antikythera Mechanism, their quest leads them into the lair of a dangerous technomancer. But Xander can’t identify his greatest threat—the enemy or the fascinating woman who’s making him feel.

My Review:

games of commandTake a smidgen of Firefly, a pinch of Babylon 5, a tiny bit of Deep Space Nine and a heaping helping of Linnea Sinclair’s Games of Command, and you’ll have something that might get within a couple of parsecs of Anna Hackett’s On a Rogue Planet – and I mean that in a totally awesome way.

So far, this series has simply been oodles of science fiction romance fun, while still telling a terrific science fiction story.

We have a bunch of space mercenaries, except these aren’t your usual mercenaries, well, not unless Indiana Jones was conducting his treasure hunting in outer space. (Wait a minute, there was this ship with the funny name and the furry co-pilot…but I digress, just a bit)

at stars end by anna hackettThe Phoenix brothers, as introduced in the first two books of this series, (At Star’s End and In the Devil’s Nebula) are intergalactic treasure hunters. One brother is the business brains – also the captain – one is the pilot, and one is the xenoarchaeologist. Notice that none of these guys is a mechanic.

Phoenix Enterprises is a family company, so their engineer is also family. Malin Phoenix is more than a bit like Kaylee in Firefly, but not quite as innocent. She also isn’t just a mechanic or engineer, she also a genius at salvage, which is where this story begins.

She’s in the salvage yard on Centax, picking out the most excellent scrap with a friend, when the planet is attacked and she ends up running for her life across the salvage yard with a cyborg who wants to hire her brothers to steal the artifact that confers power on Centax.

Except Xander isn’t just a cyborg, he is the head of Centax planetary security, and he just got caught with his figurative pants down as his planet was betrayed. He’ll do anything to get it back. (That his brother is the planet’s political leader and has been captured also figures into his decision just a bit, even though Centax Security cyborgs aren’t supposed to feel much in the way of emotions. Xander clearly starts out with more feelings than he expresses or believes he has.)

When Xander seeks out Malin in the scrap yard, his only intent is to get off planet and hire her cousins. Meeting Malin adds a whole new dimension to his plans. He finds within himself the sense that he MUST protect and save her, no matter what the cost. It’s entirely possible that the EMP weapon that temporarily fried his cyber-circuits knocked out all his emotional filters.

But no matter how hard he tries, he’s never able to get those emotional filters back up. Everything else, absolutely yes. Suppress his growing feelings for Malin, absolutely no.

Malin can’t help but be attracted to Xander, at least when he shows her his more human side. The problem is that Malin knows that Centax Security cyborgs simply don’t have feelings. And even if Xander did, his planet needs him way more than one mechanic possibly could make up for. She knows he’s going to rip her heart out when he leaves. She just doesn’t know if he even has a heart to break.

Escape Rating A-: Just because I recognized some of the story’s antecedents doesn’t mean I didn’t have one hell of a good time reading it. And want more.

Linnea Sinclair is an awesome fairy godmother for any SFR story to have. She always did an excellent job of integrating the romance fully into the science fiction world she created, and she always created a fascinating SF world, even if, or perhaps because, some of them were places you wouldn’t want to live in.

Xander Soros is very much like Branden Kel-Patten in Games of Command. Not just because he is a combination of man and machine, but because Xander, like Branden, is not supposed to have emotions. He’s certainly not supposed to feel love or even lust. Discovering that he does feel, and that he can love, is a revelation for Xander, and a miracle that Malin can’t make herself believe in.

She has a history of falling for men who use her, then let her know that they just aren’t interested in a woman with engine grease under her fingernails. As far as she is concerned, Xander is just a different kind of wrong, and she can’t compete with an entire planet that needs him back on his “A” game.

The prize they hunt for is an old Terran computer. While I still can’t figure out which one it might be, the point is that the rulership of Centax still belongs to whoever manages to hold and keep the old thing. Their quest to find it and steal it back leads to a planet without a star that travels its own route through uncharted space. The rogue collector on that rogue planet runs Xander and Malin through a robotic gauntlet that tests their ingenuity, their will to survive, and their ability to work as a team.

When they win through, Xander believes he’s won everything he never knew he wanted. Malin is certain it’s the beginning of the end. Which one of them is right?

If you enjoy SFR, particularly if you miss Linnea Sinclair’s marvelous tales, take a look at Anna Hackett’s Phoenix Brothers. You’ll be glad you did.

p.s. If you’re wondering about that SF pedigree I mentioned at the beginning, well, Malin is Kaylee’s sister from another universe, and they have to go into the uncharted black. By way of a stable wormhole (Deep Space Nine) that operates like a Babylon 5 jumpgate, complete with hardware. Enjoy!

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.

Stacking the Shelves (119)

Stacking the Shelves

Don’t forget that today is National Reading Day. Although the day is supposed to encourage reading by younger children, I don’t see why we can’t ALL celebrate by curling up with a good book or two.

As far as good books, or at least new books, this may be the first time in a long time (if ever) that I have bought more books than I received review copies. Or at least the first time since I started blogging. I loved Anna Hackett’s In the Devil’s Nebula so much that I just had to get the rest of the series. Yum!

For Review:
Star Trek: The Original Series: Shadow of the Machine by Scott Harrison

Purchased from Amazon:
Beneath a Trojan Moon (Phoenix Adventures #4) by Anna Hackett
Beyond Galaxy’s Edge (Phoenix Adventures #5) by Anna Hackett
On a Rogue Planet (Phoenix Adventures #3) by Anna Hackett
On a Cyborg Planet (Phoenix Adventures #6) by Anna Hackett


Review: In the Devil’s Nebula by Anna Hackett

in the devils nebula by anna hackettFormat read: ebook provided by the author via NetGalley
Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Phoenix Adventures #2
Length: 179 pages
Date Released: July 14, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, All Romance

He lost it all.

His career, his woman, his sanity.

Two years ago, on a deadly mission to the lawless Devil’s Nebula, Commander Zayn Phoenix’s life imploded. Now the former Strike Wing pilot fills his days with dangerous adventures alongside his treasure hunter brothers.

But his nights are another story: haunted by nightmares of one unforgivable act.

Until an assassin lures him into a hunt. A hunt for her freedom from the Assassin’s Guild. A hunt for a derringer used in an ancient and infamous assassination—of old Earth president, Abraham Lincoln.

Zayn is compelled to join the perilous adventure with Ria Dante that will take them straight into the heart of the Devil’s Nebula, but not for money, fame or treasure.

He joins because Ria has the face of the woman he left for dead in the Nebula years before.

My Review:

This is a book to read for the sheer fun of it. And if you are a Firefly fan, also for the extra dose of Firefly-like space-western nostalgia. The Serenity cut a much wider swath through SF and SFR imaginations than would be expected for a show that had such a short run, and it’s awesome.

But don’t let my squeeing about Firefly dissuade anyone who hasn’t watched it. This story definitely stands on its own. But if you watched the show, the sense of it in the background warms the heart.

The Phoenix Adventures are space opera of the mercenary treasure hunter type. (If you like Phoenix, try Ruby Lionsdrake’s Mandrake Company for a similar feel)

at stars end by anna hackettThe Phoenix brothers, Dathan, Zayn and Nik, are professional treasure hunters. It seems to be a family business, and we see a bit more of the rest of their family, and the family’s operation, than we did in the first book in this series, the awesome At Star’s End (reviewed here).

But Star’s End was Dathan’s story, and In the Devil’s Nebula is Zayn’s. In the first book it was obvious that Zayn wasn’t happy about something that happened before he rejoined his brothers. Zayn is their pilot, and he used to be a military pilot. Now something is eating him that caused him to leave the service.

Zayn misses flying fast and far. He misses the adrenaline. But something went very, very wrong on his last mission, and he can’t find a way back from it. Until a new rival turns into a new client, and forces him to return to the scene of his biggest regret.

Ria Dante is a member of the Assassin’s Guild, and she wants out. Membership in the Guild is essentially life-long slavery, and Ria has had enough. She doesn’t even like killing people unless it’s necessary, but the Guild raised her from infancy and she’s supposed to owe them her life. Until she dies on a mission somewhere.

Instead, Ria concocts a plan to steal one of the Guild’s most famous artificacts, the gun that killed Old Earth President Abraham Lincoln. (This gun really exists and is part of the museum collection at Ford’s Theatre). Ria’s plan is to offer the gun back to the Guild in return for her freedom.

Of course, she has to steal it first. And for that, she needs the Phoenix Brothers.

The plan is almost over before it starts. Because Ria is the spitting image of the mistake that Zayn can’t get past. Zayn had feelings for his fellow Strike Wing pilot, Viktoria. But when they were captured by the Assassin’s Guild on their last mission, Vik was raped and tortured. By the time Zayn managed to escape his captors, Vik was too broken to move. She asked for a mercy shot, and Zayn gave it to her. Saving her hours if not days of continued torture before her inevitable death.

He’s never gotten over it, not just what he did, but what might have been. Ria is a stark reminder of the woman he cared for and failed.

Zayn can’t help but want to act on the feelings that he had for Vik with her doppelganger. But Ria wants to be loved, or even just wanted, for herself. No one wants to know they are a stand-in for someone else.

The mission to free Ria takes priority, but Zayn finds himself falling, not for the woman he used to know, but the person that Ria is in the here and now – a woman who may look like Vik, but doesn’t act like her.

And just when they think they may finally have a way to finish the mission, they make a discovery that changes everything they thought – about each other, about themselves, and about the Assassin’s Guild that is hunting them to the far reaches of the galaxy.

Escape Rating A: This has been my week for SFR, and I have to say that they have all been marvelously fun reads.

There is an element of serendipity or coincidence that made one of the central puzzles in this book very similar to one in yesterday’s book, Through the Static by Jeanette Grey. It made it easier than it should have been to guess what the big secret was, but the way that Zayn and Ria find out was still an emotionally gripping scene. (Just because I knew definitely doesn’t mean they did).

One of the terrifically fun characters in this story is Lastite Lala, a 15 year old explosives savant. Also more than slightly bonkers. Lala lives on a planet that has a culture much like that of the American West. It is a desert, people mostly ride horses and have farms or ranches, and whoever settled this place decreed “no advanced tech” and managed to enforce the edit. Very Firefly space-western-esque, and Lala is oodles of crazy fun.

Then there’s the romance. This is one of the few cases where the insta-love thing works. In fact, Zayn has to fall out of love with Vik so he can fall in love with Ria, even while he thinks they might be the same person. So he has to convince Ria that she is the woman he sees and is making love to, and not the ghost of the pilot Vik. He screws up fairly often, Ria has no experience with relationships, and they have a lot to figure out as they go along. Only to have it all blow up in their faces at the end.

In the Devil’s Nebula is a tremendously fun SFR romance/caper with a lot of heart. I had so much fun with this one that I bought the rest of the series!

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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: At Star’s End by Anna Hackett

at stars end by anna hackettFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: The Phoenix Adventures, #1
Length: 137 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Date Released: March 31, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Dr. Eos Rai has spent a lifetime dedicated to her mother’s dream of finding the long-lost Mona Lisa. When Eos uncovers tantalizing evidence of Star’s End—the last known location of the masterpiece—she’s shocked when her employer, the Galactic Institute of Historic Preservation, refuses to back her expedition. Left with no choice, Eos must trust the most notorious treasure hunter in the galaxy, a man she finds infuriating, annoying and far too tempting.

Dathan Phoenix can sniff out relics at a stellar mile. With his brothers by his side, he takes the adventures that suit him and refuses to become a lazy, bitter failure like their father. When the gorgeous Eos Rai comes looking to hire him, he knows she’s trouble, but he’s lured into a hunt that turns into a wild and dangerous adventure. As Eos and Dathan are pushed to their limits, they discover treasure isn’t the only thing they’re drawn to…but how will their desire survive when Dathan demands the Mona Lisa as his payment?

My Review:

Space pirates and the Mona Lisa. Now there’s a combination that doesn’t turn up everyday!

At Star’s End is a rollicking space piracy adventure wrapped around a hot romance between an archeologist and the pirate captain. Although the emphasis in the story is on the action/adventure and the romance, the science fiction aspects provide just the right sauce, along with a touch of pathos.

Star’s End is a place. A mythical place where the first Earth colony ships, loaded with the most beautiful art and artifacts of our dying planet, ended up. By the time period of this story, Star’s End is a lost legend.  It appears in history books, it’s treasures are mostly known through surviving computer files, but no one has ever found the actual place. It seems to be literally at the stars’ end.

Archeologists’ careers have come to unhappy ends in the fruitless search for the lost Terran treasure, including the career and life of Dr. Eos Rai’s mother. Eos has devoted herself to proving her mother’s theories correct. And at last she has a lead on the trove–but her bosses at the Galactic Institute of Historic Preservation refuse to back an expedition.

That’s where the Phoenix brothers come in. Dathan Phoenix, along with his brothers Niklas and Zayn are pretty legendary themselves. Legendary treasure hunters, that is. The Phoenix brothers search for treasure and historic artifacts for purely mercenary motives; they’re in it for the money.

Eos is in it for the thrill of the hunt, and for the glory of getting her latest finds into the museum. But without museum backing, the Phoenix brothers are her only choice for this personal mission. A mission that becomes even more personal when she and Dathan can’t seem to stop the spark of attraction that flares up between them.

They’ve always been on opposite sides of the fence, but opposites definitely do attract.

Treasure hunts also attract poachers, including a hunter who is as much after brother Niklas as any treasure they might discover. (I hope this story turns up in a later book).

As they get further away from civilized space, the chase gets more and more dangerous. Too many rivals try to kidnap Eos for the secret she holds. But no matter how difficult the hunt, Eos never gives up or gives in.

Except to what she feels for Dathan.

Escape Rating A-: Another review called At Star’s End the love child of Indiana Jones and Firefly, and that’s a pretty good description. The universe by the time of the story has gotten kind of dark and gritty, much like the background of Firefly. But the adventure part of the story is pure Indiana Jones’ treasure chasing, non-stop action and danger, with a heroine who gets herself into, and out of, every kind of trap and trouble imaginable.

This is Eos’ story. Her information, her find, and often her danger. It’s about what she wants, and what she thinks she wants. Does she just want to find Star’s End, or is she trying to validate her mother’s career? Does she want to go back to the Museum, or does she want a more interesting, and more dangerous, future with Dathan? If he’s looking for a long-term relationship, and not just a fling, that is.

If you love the action/adventure type of science fiction romance, let these space pirates steal you away, and steal your heart.

SFRQ-button-150x100*This review originally appeared in the Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly

***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 or borrowed from a public library 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.