The title says it all. This anthology is full to the brim of sci-fi romances feature pets in key roles. I was eager to dive in and experience familiar and unfamiliar authors along with sampling some potential new series to follow. It also has the distinction of having 10% of the proceeds go toward the Hero Dogs organization that provide service dogs for America’s heroes.
As its an anthology, I’ll do mini-reviews of each story.
A Mate for Matrix: Cyber Protection Unit by SE Smith 4 Stars
Cyber Protection Unit Prequel
K-9 and his partner are one of the CPU teams sent out to eliminate the threat of the genetically enhanced creatures that got loose into the galaxy and treat any planet’s population as food. Matrix and K-9 end up on a remote planet with a more primitive people. They are separated and this leads to K-9 finding the perfect female to be his gruff partner’s life mate and her three kittens to become his pack. But first they must destroy the crawler before it can lay it’s eggs to infest earth.
I love cyborg stories and how cool is that when the cyborg is the animal partner to an alien warrior. Definitely want more of this series.
Stray by Susan Grant 4.5 Stars
A Star World Glimmer novella
This story is associated with the Star Series and Star World Frontier Series. A stray dog, a stray Marine, and a lovely lady star pilot find love, home, and family together only to begin struggling when PTSD and survivor’s guilt causes trouble. Right when it all might be over, a dangerous mission gone bad shakes them all up and makes them really take stock and figure out what needs to be done.
Alternating narration- even the dog which was adorable.
I found this exciting story a perfect glimpse into a new to me writer and pair of series that I now want to read. Great blend of sci-fi action, romance, and character development.
Spark of Attraction by Cara Bristol 4 Stars
Captain Dante Stone, cyborg and known for his lock-down on emotion, has his world turned upside down when his ship picks up refugees from a plant brutalized by an attack. One of the refugees and her robot dog thaws his stone heart even as they rush to figure out the mystery behind the missing people on the ship.
I love Cara Bristol’s cyborgs. This was a fun one with a murder mystery in space. I believe it is standalone.
Star Cruise: Stowaway by Veronica Scott 4.5 Stars
Star Cruise series
Gruff and workaholic Cargo Master, Owen, with the help of his cat, discovers an unusual stowaway. He is instantly taken with the unusual female alien with the sad story and wants to help her. Unfortunately, her situation is dangerous and has complications.
I was taken with this story where the hero is an average joe (not the captain, not the security guy) who steps up and does the hero thing for a beautiful abused woman caught in a desperate situation. Their tender love story had depth and was developed well. The back history of the story has me eager to go back for the others in the series.
The Real Dragon by Pauline Baird Jones 4 Stars
Emma is having a surreal day when her scientist, widower father announces that he is marrying his boss and her pet bearded dragon returns with the ability to talk. She learns that she didn’t just block out of her memories the night of her mom’s death, but a whole bunch of other things. And her to-do list takes a turn towards the dire when she realizes she has to prevent the destruction of a little chunk of Texas.
Interesting and humorous one. Loved the inclusion of the dragon pet and the mystery behind her lost memories. The romance wanted an eensy bit more development. Fun writing style that I would try again.
Spike by Alexis Glynn Latner 4 Stars
Aeon’s Legacy series
Ten Jaxdown is a roboticist whose little robots are needed for a recon mission to help find out who is sabotaging the mission group’s new ships. He partners with the fiery Commander Anastasia Steed and her unique ‘pet’ to get the job done.
I loved the broader world building and tone of this story. It has a unique feel. Nicely done with a likeable beta-style hero partnered with the warrior heroine. There is a strong sense that this is a betweener story in a longer series as it is so things are ended open toward the next book.
Stardog by Laurie A. Green 4.5 Stars
The Inherited Stars universe
When the ship has a snake infestation, navigator, Taro, is sent out at the spaceport to find and exterminator. He encounters Adini and her unique Star Dog who can do the work. Their encounter leads to more when her father’s connection to a rebel secret organization against the cruel Alliance sends them rushing to save him.
An exciting space adventure full of intrigue and a delightful alien dog. I enjoyed encountering all the characters and definitely want to read the full-length story that goes with this companion novella.
Space Ranger by Lea Kirk 4 Stars
The Prophecy Series universe
Graig and his people have helped the decimated people of Earth re-establish themselves after a devastating attack. He has lived with botanist, Simone, as she sets up farming and teaching others to farm. Now it’s time he returned to his duties in the stars serving under his best friend Gryf. Graig leaves behind a puppy and he knows he broke Simone’s heart, but she has her calling and he has his. Only, returning to duty is now a hardship and doesn’t feel like a calling. He’s lost his focus and desire to serve aboard ship.
This was a light and humorous and heartwarming story of a man who must figure out where he really belongs and realize what truly makes him happy. The story is a follow-up piece and I could feel the connection though it was easy to read it without having read the other. I’m curious to get Gryf and Alex’s story.
Escape Run by Carysa Locke 4 Stars
Telepathic Space Pirates World
Teegan lost almost everyone she cared about on the job as Hunter for the Talented who were dangerous or broken. It has been seven years since she walked away from her work as a Hunter and from Cole. Now he needs her again for a hunt that brings her past back into stark detail. She can’t refuse because this particular Talented can’t be allowed to escape and kill the masses. With the aid of her fox-like companion and Cole, Teegan is back on the hunt.
I enjoyed this interesting world of gifted humans, pirates, and the poignant story of a woman who grieves deeply yet needs to let go of her past and her anger to heal and find love. It was an exciting chase and a tender ending. Yes, more pirate space world, please!
Alright, this was jam-packed with wonderful sci-fi romance. I loved the variety and creative worldbuilding, writing styles, and fantastic new to me writers and series that I now will be eager to pick up and read again. Most of the stories are attached to a series or at least from the world of the series, but work well as a novella. The animal characters theme shines through even to the service partner idea. I would definitely recommend this anthology to sci-fi romance lovers.
I received this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
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