This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Genres: Romantic Suspense, Sci-Fi Romance
Published by Tantor Audio
Released on November 20, 2018
I’ve enjoyed a few of the author’s contemporary romantic suspenses under a different pen name, but I adore sci-fi so I had to snatch up a suspense set on another planet involving humans with psychic gifts solving a murder.
Amaryllis is the first of the St. Helen’s trilogy. The story introduces the main players, starchy rule-loving Amaryllis Lark, a psychic prism which means her ability is to help power and control all other psychic talents, and rough and ready business owner Lucas Trent who is keeping secret the extent of his psychic power and gifts. Lucas has a case of industrial espionage going on within his company and needs to hire a strong prism who can channel his talent so he can verify who is selling his company secrets. He’d rather not deal with the prim Amaryllis, but he has little choice. Their business arrangement sets into motion several things leading to not one, but a few different mysteries that have them teaming up to get answers and fighting a taboo attraction. They are both destined for an arranged match and not with each other so they should go their separate ways. But, they don’t.
My enjoyment of sci-fi romance is a relatively recent thing and I tend more toward Space Opera if anything so I’ve missed out on some of the SFR ‘classics’ like this trilogy here. I’m glad it was re-issued on audio so it caught my eye. The setting is distant future and distant from earth. From what I gathered, there was a sort of wormhole that allowed earth’s ships to travel far and find a planet much like earth. No sooner had the colonists settled than the wormhole closed and they were stranded on the far side. Not only are they cut off from home, but technology from earth won’t work on this planet. They were taken back to the pre-tech era and had to start fresh so that by the time of this story, they have reached tech around the later half of the twentieth century. So, basically, it was like reading a contemporary romance on an earth-like world, but the new world caused psychic talents to emerge as well as a more historical approach of arranged marriages being the sought after situation. Same sex marriages were not an issue. The issue was a good, strong family nucleus where strong traditional principles were taught to the new generation. Unarranged marriages, or worse, living together and the follow up of illegitimate children was a stain on a person and a family. It was a curious hodge-podge for a set up.
I have to say that the tweaking of common place items, foods, animals, plants and more cracked me up and made it hard to take it seriously. ‘Coff-tea’ for example.
To be honest, there were other things that made me twitch from Amaryllis’ stuffy manners and extreme naivete paired with her TSTL rushes into danger without thought to the constant use of terms like synergy, prig, and prim. Synergy was something of a religious philosophy for these folks so I expected it to be prevalent, but every paragraph was pushing it.
And, while the mystery was intriguing and legit, I wasn’t sold on the very beginning. There wasn’t enough there that should have caused Amaryllis to go on point like a blood hound. She’s spouting foul play and murder when all she had was an accidental death and her sadness because he was her mentor. There were no ominous clues that it wasn’t an accident and out of the blue she is able to leap from an unrelated incident at the political fundraiser when her and Lucas suspect a politician is using his charm talent to do more smoozing than is ethical to a connection to her old university mentor’s recent death. Once the mystery was under way, it was fine and I was totally into it, but it skipped a few steps in the beginning in leading into it.
But, all that being said, it turned out to be a good suspenseful romance. I thought the opposites attract pair of Amaryllis and Lucas was great. It was neat getting his background coming from the rough frontier area where he was instrumental in putting down a war with pirates over the jungle islands and ruthlessly building his successful exploration company, his orphan status and hidden psychic talent that was scary to the others if they knew he had it, and his discovery of a new fuel and also some alien artifacts making him an interesting, sexy man. Amaryllis was one of the many who saw him as a larger than life hero even if her own past has her needing to remain solidly in control and resisting his charm. She hides behind stringent rules and adherence to her mentor’s ethnic codes for herself and the use of psychic talent. She is the child of people who let selfish passion lead them astray and make her childhood miserable with bullying, derision, and her father’s family rejecting her existence. Her mother’s family loved her, but brought her up to be cautious. Lucas is a breath of fresh air in her staid life and she takes the lead in dragging him after answers about her mentor’s death. There was a good twist at the end in the suspense and in the romance as well.
Tanya Eby is a long-time favorite narrator. She was a good match for the story. I loved her voice for Amaryllis and she did great with Lucas as well giving him a husky voice the opposite of Amaryllis smooth one. All the side characters were voiced well and she had a good sense of timing and situation. I got lost in her narration and probably enjoyed this book ever so much more than if I had merely been reading the words.
So, it was a good start. The next two books are about a few intriguing characters introduced in this book who have their own secret psychic talents and come from the same part of the world as Lucas. I look forward to getting their stories. For those who want a sci-fi romance that was engaging and don’t mind that it has some quirks from the past, these are a good bet.
My thanks to Tantor Audio for the opportunity to listen to this book in exchange for an honest review.