After a great experience with Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cordelia’s Honor, I decided to broaden my horizons and give some sci-fi romance a chance. I’ve always loved Star Trek and Star Wars, and I usually limit my sci-fi enjoyment to the small screen, but when I saw Jamie Craig’s A Line in the Ice, I thought I’d check it out. I’m so glad I did, because it was action-packed and a sweet romance. Jamie Craig is actually writing team Vivien Dean and Pepper Espinoza, and I always have the utmost respect for authors who can write together without killing each other, since I can’t imagine that happening in my household without numerous calls to Emergency Services. However, the two ladies who write as Jamie Craig do so seamlessly, and the end result is a pleasure to read. If you look on their webpage (www.jamie-craig.com) you’ll see that they’ve published a number of erotic romances of many types, but A Line in the Ice is more mainstream. You can find this novel for purchase at Amazon and at the Carina Press webpage .
The novel takes place roughly 100 years after the end of the First World War in Antarctica, with a small band of soldiers from around the world battling mysterious creatures emerging from the ice. These strange animals first appeared during WWI around the world, killing soldiers and civilians and causing widespread panic. A small band of soldiers fought off the creatures at the time, but then was never heard from again. Captain Charlie Weller is part of the present day squad fighting the re-appearance of the creatures in Antarctica, and as the novel begins, she and her partner are fighting off one of the animals, only to see a man emerge from the ice. His name is Lysander Davies, and he tells Charlie and her companions that he’s a descendent of a member of that original band of men from WWI. He claims that the “monsters” they’ve been fighting are actually gentle creatures from a place called Illyria, another world under attack by a vicious group called the Aquorians. Lysander has made the dangerous journey through the rift between his world of Illyria and Charlie’s Earth to warn the humans that the Aquorians are on their way. But the more time he and Charlie spend together, the stronger their attraction, which makes the situation all the more difficult, since Lysander will have to return to Illyria in order to close the rift and save Earth.
What first attracted me to this novel was the author’s use of World War I as the time when the Leviathan (the large animals) began to come through the rift. Since the US had less involvement in WWI than many of our allies, it often receives little attention in history courses and as a result many Americans know little or nothing about the war. Choosing to have these creatures emerge at that time was intriguing to me, and the book didn’t disappoint. Lysander’s Great-Grandfather and the other men from WWI who drove off the Leviathan at the time became trapped in another world, Illyria. Lysander has only heard stories of Earth, including parts of Shakespearean plays that his Great-Grandfather had written down from memory. Unfortunately, Lysander has returned to Earth at Antarctica, one of the starkest spots on Earth, and it’s amusing to see his questions for Charlie about the other parts of the world, along with his introduction to technology his great-grandfather could never have imagined possible.
The setting of the book, Antarctica, was particularly effective, reminding me of sci-fi movies such as Aliens, since the space in which the characters move and interact is so confined and the terrain so unforgiving. The harsh cold and limited access to the outside world creates the feel of being cut off from everyone, which increases the tension between the soldiers and facilitates the growing romance between Charlie and Lysander. At times you forget that they aren’t alone, as they soon only have eyes for each other. There are only six soldiers in this forgotten defense against a growing threat, and Lysander’s frustration over Earth’s growing complaisance concerning the rift and the Aquorian threat is palpable.
My only complaint about the novel would be that we see very little of the Aquorians themselves, only learning of them through Lysander until the action-packed end of the novel. We learn about the threat that they present through his accounts of Illyria and what the other humans learned from their experience there, but I didn’t fully understand their motives in attacking Earth. This seems like a very minor complaint, however, since this was precisely the situation the soldiers in Antarctica faced.
I enjoyed the romance between Charlie and Lysander and thought this was an intriguing world. I’d love to see more about Illyria in the future, especially since it was quite the contrast to the stark setting of the majority of the book. When I asked the authors on Twitter if they had any plans for sequels, they replied that there isn’t anything in the works but not to rule it out either, so for now, I’ll have to settle for reading books from their backlist. I definitely recommend this one if you’re a Sci-fi fan.
I received this book for review from the publisher through NetGalley.(less)
I am a bit of a nerd. I like Star Trek, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings, but I wouldn’t call myself anything more than a casual fan. You’d never find me at a midnight showing of a film dressed as in costume or waving a lightsaber, and I can’t quote lines from any of them. And the closest I’ve ever come to a sci-fi/fantasy convention was well over a decade ago when I picked up a friend at Comic Con in Atlanta. You better believe that when I got a good look at the costumes going in and out of the convention center I decided that I would just slow down and my friend could jump in the moving car. I was NOT stopping!
So I have a lot in common with Emma Portland, the heroine of Abby Niles’ Defying Convention. She’s an investigative journalist for the biggest paper in Atlanta (woo hoo, Hotlanta!), and after screwing up her last exposé, her boss has given her the kiss of death – find a story at the 31st annual GalaxyCon. Emma only knows a little about these conventions, and what little she knows comes from her brother, Eddie, who attends lots of Cons and is the creator of a popular online role player game. Emma is following her brother around but having no success getting story ideas when Eddie informs her that to get the best scoops, she needs to pose as a native. Thus she finds herself dressed as Princess Leia. And not Princess Leia in a white robe with buns on her head, Princess Leia in a boobalicious metal bikini. Helloooo, ladies!
As Emma and Eddie are leaving their hotel room with her dressed in her cringe-inducing costume, they witness a guy being attacked by a Furry (person dressed as an animal with certain sexual proclivities that are not delved into in this book, thank goodness) with a Styrofoam sword, and while I’d like to say that “Styrofoam sword” isn’t a euphemism, it probably is meant to have some sort of Freudian meaning. Emma hates bullies, so she joins the fray by yanking the sword away from the Furry and beating him over the head with it. To her surprise, Eddie thinks that the man under attack, author Luke Blaster, deserves everything he’s getting. Luke Evans writes the Farmen Galaxy books under the name Luke Blaster, and he made the bold move of killing off the hero of his books, Ben Frank, in the last book. Now his name is mud, and he is sooooo not popular at this convention.
Luke and Emma have definite sparks (I’m sure the metal bikini helps!), but she’s torn. She’s attracted to Luke, but if she can get the scoop on his enigmatic book dedications and why he killed off his hero, she can salvage her career. Her boss is breathing down her neck, and she’s definitely going to be out on her bum if she doesn’t get a good story. To make matters worse, Luke makes it clear that he despises reporters, just as Emma’s rival reporter makes an appearance. There’s definitely a story here, but should Emma follow her heart or her dream of being a great reporter?
I love the choice of a sci-fi convention as setting for this contemporary romance, and Abby Niles does a great job of incorporating the Con culture into the book. Live Action Role Play (LARP) takes a central stage in encouraging the romance between Luke and Emma, and the fans of Luke’s Farmen Galaxy are a hoot. I am certainly sympathetic to their outrage over his killing off the hero, and their various forms of revenge are pretty darn funny. And the scene with the Vulcan Karaoke was a riot, even though I’ve done the Rocky Horror Picture Show Time Warp myself and am not sure that I’d qualify it as arousing as it is here!
The romance itself is sweet and entertaining. Emma’s drawn to Luke, who’s got a tortured past, and the conflict of heart over work is one many can relate to. There’s a nice secondary romantic conflict between Eddie and his ex-wife Fiona that mirrors the conflict Emma’s experiencing, since Fiona left Eddie because he was more focused on developing his game than his marriage. Eddie continually encourages Emma to take a chance with Luke instead of focusing on her career, pointing out how unhappy his past mistakes have made him. Eddie’s “wooing” of his ex-wife Fiona during a role-playing game was sexy, awkward, and adorable, and you’re rooting for this couple as much as for the hero and heroine. When Luke finally opens up to Emma about his traumatic past, you agonize with her, because she’s found place herself in such a difficult postion. She’s in love with Luke and knows that he will consider her silence about her profession a betrayal. Luke’s pain at her actions is palpable, but the conclusion is highly satisfactory.
I really enjoyed this novel, but I do have a few minor complaints. The first has to do with some of the language in the novel. Overall the book is well-written, but there was one point where Eddie describes Emma as “angsted up” that actually made me cringe. The phrase is such a trivial thing to criticize that I hesitate to mention it, but it was such a jarring note that it distracted me from the story for a moment. The fact that this was the only time the language disrupted my reading of the book should indicate that the rest of the novel was smoothly written, I think.
My only other complaint is that the rival reporter competing with Emma, Lila O’Brien, is a bit of a caricature. She’s so evil and ruthless while the other supporting characters are so well-rounded that as a character she falls a bit flat. You definitely will love to hate her, and it’s very satisfying to see her get her come-uppance in the end, but she’s a little too one-dimensional, especially when compared to Cecil, the farmen fan who aids her in her exposé.
But if you haven’t guessed so far, I really loved this book. It had a great romance with a tortured hero and a hysterically funny setting. This is the first contemporary romance set at a Sci-Fi convention that I’ve seen and the choice of setting was absolutely brilliant. Definitely check this one out!
I received this book for review from the Publisher through NetGalley. (less)
The writing duo that is Ilona Andrews could publish their grocery list, and I’d probably buy it. Of course, the reason I feel that way is because everything they write is stellar, and their newest release, the novella Silver Shark, is no exception. Back when I first started reading their Kate Daniels series, I went online and purchased all of their books, including the novella Silent Blade, which is the first in the Kinsmen series. I loved it, but it’s set outside the Kate Daniels world, so I figured this was a one-off and that was it. I was thrilled to learn that they were writing a sequel novella, and when they sponsored a giveaway on their blog, I and about 500 of their closest friends (heh heh) signed up. When the deadline passed and I hadn’t heard from them, I went ahead and paid the $2.99 for the novella at Amazon and devoured it, only to check my email and learn I’d won a copy. Oops. I don’t feel too bad about the 3 dollars, though, as it’s a great novella, and I can’t recommend it enough!
The world of the Kinsmen is very much sci-fi, which is not my favorite genre, but I really enjoy both the storytelling and the romance of this novella. Claire Shannon is a psycher, someone who can use telepathy to attack others’ minds. She lives on a grim mining planet fought over by two mining conglomerates. When the conglomerate she fights for is defeated, she pretends to be a civilian and is deported to Rada, a merchant planet that is run by kinsmen, which are mafia-type family organizations with psychic abilities. Claire’s hired to work as an administrative assistant for Guardian, Inc., a bionet (think psychic internet) security firm run by the Escana family. She becomes the personal assistant to Venturo Escana, owner, CEO, and a very powerful psycher. The two are clearly attracted to one another, but Claire’s psycher abilities must remain secret, or she’ll be returned to her home planet, which means certain death. When she’s approached by fellow refugees for help, she has to infiltrate the bionet, placing her new future in danger.
This novella is outstanding, thanks in large part to the world building. Clare’s home planet of Uley is industrial and bleak, and her new home on Rada is overpowering in color and exuberance. She notices the people of the province of New Delphi constantly smiling, and the women are dressed in brilliant colors, which is completely foreign to her. In fact, a fellow refugee informs her that her new red hair color is too bright, in an attempt to warn Claire that she’ll attract attention, something she would need to avoid on their home planet. The contrast with her stark experience on Uley is striking, and watching Claire try new foods and manners of dress will draw you in.
Claire’s ability to undergo overwhelming change and remain strong is highly appealing. She manages to hide her psycher powers against overwhelming odds, but when she’s asked by her fellow refugees to risk everything to save their children, she never hesitates to act on their behalf. Her loyalty to them and to Ven, whom she desires but believes she cannot have, is touching. Because of her past, she has no idea how to communicate her feelings for Ven and fears that doing so will jeopardize her new life. She’s an engaging character, because she’s both vulnerable and strong, and you really want everything to work out for her.
My only complaint is that the novella ends without our seeing the final showdown on the bionet. I would have loved to have seen the last battle, but the letter at the end from Ven’s aunt to his mother is a clever way to end the story and made me laugh.
If you’re looking for a short but satisfying read, you really can’t go wrong with this novella. I definitely recommend this one!(less)
I admit it. I’m a sucker for nerdy heroes. Just look at my husband! Pretty darn nerdy! So when I saw that Zoë Archer’s latest book, Chain Reaction, featured a hero who forms part of “NerdWorks,” I knew this was going to be a winner. At approximately 43,000 words Chain Reaction is fairly short, but there is a lot to love in this book. I’ve read all of Ms. Archer’s paranormal historical novels in the Blades of the Rose series, and highly recommend them, but the 8th Wing series is firmly in the Sci-Fi camp, a departure from her earlier books.
In Chain Reaction, Lieutenant Celene “Stainless” Jur is the 8th Wing’s ace pilot. She flies the stealthy Black Wraith ships, and only a few months ago was captured and nearly sold when an enemy used a disrupter to immobilize her ship. The creator of the disrupter has finally been discovered, and Celene wants to be the one bringing him in.
Engineer Nils Calder is proud of his role in the 8th Wing’s “NerdWorks” (think GeekSquad in space), and he’s managed to find a way to locate the disrupter and lead them to its creator, a disgruntled former NerdWorks engineer. But Nils has had little field experience, and Celene doesn’t want anyone getting in her way on this mission. Unfortunately, her commanding officer insists that Nils is the best man for the job.
Nils has long had a crush on the stunning pilot, and when they’re forced to work on the recovery mission together, he decides to seize his chance and woo Celene, setting off sparks. In the past Celene has felt isolated as a woman among all the other pilots. Her reputation as a pilot is such that others speak of her with awe, and men are inevitably disappointed when they discover the real woman behind the legend. Nils seems to see past that to the real Celene, but can a hotshot pilot and a NerdWorks engineer find common ground when the mission ends?
This was a fast, action-packed read filled with steamy romance. I really enjoyed reading about a beta hero who trusts in his abilities and those of his female companion rather than trying to take over the entire mission. I was surprised that Nils and Celene didn’t set off any supernovas in space, their chemistry was so sizzling. It also helps that the “nerdy” Nils has a tone,d athletic bod and plenty of self-confidence.
Celene is an appealing character as well. It’s always fun to read about competent female characters who really don’t NEED someone to hold their hands but are looking for companionship. Celene is a believable mix of strength and vulnerability, and frankly I enjoyed her kick-ass status among the other pilots. My one criticism would be the choice of her nickname, “Stainless.” That had me cringing throughout the entire book. It just struck me as very awkward.
Chain Reaction is the second book in the 8th Wing series, and the hero and heroine from the first book, Collision Course, appear in the second book, but you can easily read Chain Reaction as a stand alone novel. That said, Collision Course is currently on sale for only $1.99 at Amazon, so catching up on the series won’t break the bank.
I do wish Chain Reaction were a bit longer, because I would have liked to see more of Nils and Celene together and learn more about their enemy, the Praxis. However, given the length, I felt the romance was well developed. I definitely recommend this one if you’re interested in space opera or sci-fi romance.
I received a copy for review from the publisher through NetGalley.(less)
I really enjoyed seeing Miles in action once again, although I would have liked to see more of how his relationship with Ekaterin unfolds. This takes...moreI really enjoyed seeing Miles in action once again, although I would have liked to see more of how his relationship with Ekaterin unfolds. This takes place over a year after their marriage and is filled with the requisite intrigue and action. A very satisfactory addition to the series, if not my favorite. (less)
I won a copy of this book months ago from the author, and I finally found a convenient way to read it that didn't involve reading it on my laptop. I'm...moreI won a copy of this book months ago from the author, and I finally found a convenient way to read it that didn't involve reading it on my laptop. I'm so glad I did, because it's a very enjoyable read! While this is billed as a re-imagining of the Titanic disaster and it shares similarities, I felt it had many more moments in common with Star Wars than the Leonardo DiCaprio/Kate Winslet film.
The book is action packed, and the characters are engaging and likable, with the exception of one socialite, whom I wanted to smack upside the head a few times. The beginning drags a bit, perhaps because we have to meet the entire cast of characters before disaster strikes, but once the ship is floundering in space, you won't be able to put the book down.
Definitely recommend this one for readers of Sci-Fi romance or just romance in general. This is the second book I've read by Ms. Scott, and I very much look forward to reading more of her work in the future!(less)
This was such a fun sci-fi romance! I've interacted with the author on Twitter several times, and she's absolutely delightful, so I was all the more p...moreThis was such a fun sci-fi romance! I've interacted with the author on Twitter several times, and she's absolutely delightful, so I was all the more pleased when I enjoyed her second book (the first is Rulebreaker) so much. Sasha is a fabulous heroine. I love that she's working so hard to get her life back on track after prison and an addiction to the drug Amber. I was a little worried after reading a few reviews of the book that I wouldn't like the hero, Nate, at first, because he is using her to rescue his sister from Sasha's former lover, a drug dealer. However, he is conflicted from the beginning about using Sasha when she's worked so hard, but he's desperate. I found their romance sexy as all get out, and I love that Nate has so much respect for all that Sasha's accomplished.
Really enjoyed this Sci-fi romance and I'd highly recommend this one to any lover of romance and sci-fi. (less)
So funny! I'm way behind on the Vorkosigan Saga, but I think anyone new to the series could pick this book up and enjoy it. You probably wouldn't get...moreSo funny! I'm way behind on the Vorkosigan Saga, but I think anyone new to the series could pick this book up and enjoy it. You probably wouldn't get all of the inside jokes, but it's a very enjoyable read, nonetheless. The series is outstanding, however, so I suggest starting from the beginning.
Ivan is hilarious in this novel, and I like that he doesn't come across as a complete idiot, lol. I stayed up late to finish this one, and it was well worth it.(less)
This is probably tied with Cordelia's Honor as my favorite Bujold book. I loved it! It has all the political intrigue of the series, but we get to see...moreThis is probably tied with Cordelia's Honor as my favorite Bujold book. I loved it! It has all the political intrigue of the series, but we get to see Miles stumbling around like an idiot in love. Really excellent, and I enjoyed getting to see so much of Mark as well. Highly recommend this one!(less)
I really love the books in the Vorkosigan saga, but I've been reading them out of order. This ranks right up there with Cordelia's Honor. I'd highly r...moreI really love the books in the Vorkosigan saga, but I've been reading them out of order. This ranks right up there with Cordelia's Honor. I'd highly recommend this one to any reader of science fiction and/or romance. Even if you haven't read any of the other books in the series, I think you'll be able to follow along with no problems.(less)
This is an omnibus of two novels, Shards of Honor (1986) and Barrayar, published together in 1999. Even if you’re not familiar with Bujold’s Vorkosiga...moreThis is an omnibus of two novels, Shards of Honor (1986) and Barrayar, published together in 1999. Even if you’re not familiar with Bujold’s Vorkosigan series or even a sci-fi fan, these two novels are outstanding. The hero and heroine are older than your typical lovers in a romance – she’s in her 30s and he’s 40 – and the development of their romance is a pleasure to read, particularly since they begin as adversaries, if not quite the out and out enemies their societies would like them to be. Cordelia’s Honor is considered more sci-fi than romance, but it has enough elements of both to satisfy any reader of either genre. (less)