Once in a while, I will pick up a Space Opera for all the fun elements of Sci-Fi blended with romance. I’ve had my eye on this one since I read a follow-up short story in the SFR Brigade antho referencing this one. I was eager for a strong capable hero and heroine on a swashbuckling space adventure and that’s what I got. But I also got an intriguing thriller to make things even more interesting.
This was a great blend of light romance with adventure and intrigued. I loved the writing style, the pace and the tone of the book so much that I didn’t even feel all those pages going by. I laughed, I held my breath in excitement and I was sad all in one. The background was strong and well established. I enjoyed encountering all the alien cultures. The characters were written to be strong, but they were also flawed so they weren’t boring. There are actually two romances going on with four main characters. I like that all of them are from different races and of different personalities. The adorable cat-like pets with psychic ability and some magic of their own are great too.
Branden Kel-Paten, is a cyborg human military space ship commander who somehow managed to retain his emotions and he has been in love with Tasha Sebastian from the moment he set eyes on her. It pains him that she will never consider him human enough or worthy of her attention. Tasha Sebastian is hiding a big secret and she worries constantly that straight-arrow Kel-Paten who is her new commander will discover that she was once the smuggler, Lady Sass. She can’t figure out Kel-Paten’s interest in her. Things are happening within the newly formed military alliance organization and she doesn’t know if Kel-Paten is just who he seems to be or if he has a secret agenda. Sass’ friend, the Chief Medical Officer, Eden, is an empath and it is with her help that Sass starts to nose out some of the cover up secrets. Shortly into their latest mission, a mercenary spy, Jace Serafino, who they were sent to retrieve is brought on board wounded from his ship getting busted up in a vortex. He has a past with both Kel-Paten and Sass, but his hints at conspiracy stir the pot even more especially when he advices them to place no trust in Kel-Paten. He falls for Eden as she does for him, but with his arrival comes danger that can destroy them all and the new alliance that formed. Surviving and getting Serafino’s secrets to the proper authorities becomes the priority. And trustworthy or not, they all need Kel-Paten’s help to do it.
My favorite character was Kel-Paten. There wasn’t much talk of how he became cybe or the horrible medical and lab treatments he underwent. There is no mention of why like whether it was his idea or there was no choice due to something like a medical condition or if he was coerced. This was my only real issue with the story. Regardless, he is now enhanced and thought of as more machine than human capable of running a huge military ship, but not thought to be treated like everyone else. He struggled because he had to hide the fact that he kept his emotions and feelings from when he was human. It was hard knowing his side of things and what he was thinking and feeling when the others treated him as suspect and said cutting things. Not that he was some poor, pitiful guy. He was strong and courageous. He was stiff and unbending about things- by the book which is why Sass in particular hesitated to trust him.
Sass was interesting. She lives up to her name being sassy and fun. She comes off with the one-liners when things are in a tough spot and manages to come through with the hail mary miracle when needed. She is human unlike the others who have psychic or cybe abilities, but she is still one of the strongest members of the group. She grew up rough and poor and lived the best she could amongst pirates and smugglers, but when offered a second chance to make good, she took it. She’s had to be strong and rely only on herself. She had a few friends, but for the most part, she didn’t trust or rely on others. She sees the value in rules, but is quite capable of doing what she has to do to get the right result. Whiles she took verbal shots at Kel-Paten particularly when she wanted to keep him at a distance, she really was accepting of him as a person and eventually more.
I enjoyed the interactions of all the characters and following their romances. The romances are slow-build so there isn’t much of a physical nature going on. I didn’t mind because there was so much other stuff keeping me engaged in the story.
So all in all, I enjoyed this one and definitely planning to catch more of the same from this author. Lovers of Space Opera and Space adventure romance should put this one on their list.
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