I make no secret of the fact that I love the combination of romance and science fiction in a story. I read as many of these types of stories as I can find because they give me two things that I crave: love stories of epic proportions and adventures in a guaranteed future. What can I say? I’m a child of divorce and the Cold War. Science Fiction Romance is the type of story most likely to take me to my happy place.
Full disclosure: Heather Massey is a writing colleague and friend. She requested a “no holds barred” review and that it exactly what my dear friend is going to get. Here’s hoping she still respects me in the morning *grin*
In the sea of stars, an epic love story is about to begin…
Earth is dying. Nick Venture, the last living descendant of Christopher Columbus, embarks on a dangerous mission to find a new planet and save humanity. This places him on a collision course with Raquel Donovan, the deadliest space pirate in the galaxy.
Raquel lives for one purpose: revenge against a horrible demon from her past. When an attempt to hijack Nick’s starship backfires, Raquel becomes his protector in order to avoid capture by the tyrannical Space Defense Corps. Nick and Raquel are irresistibly drawn to one another despite the forbidden nature of their attraction. But the conflicted pirate’s deepest secret could tear the couple apart even as humanity’s time runs out…
I enjoyed this story and I wish to yak about it! And let me just warn you now: here there be spoilers. It’s been a few days since I finished it and since then I’ve been mulling over exactly why this story worked so well, as well as musing on the elements that didn’t really gel for me.
The best part of the book was the two main characters. From the very first page I found the space pirate, Raquel Donovan, captivating. I wasn’t quite sure at first if I was meeting the heroine or the villain, because, as the story opens, she is being very bad indeed. She is, in fact, engaged in having someone tortured most brutally. This is rather unusual behavior for a romance heroine, to say the least, and Massey took a huge risk in portraying her heroine as so thoroughly immersed in her dark side. I can imagine many a romance reader stopping right there and refusing to read further; I can imagine many a science fiction reader, though, plowing right ahead to find out more. In my case, my inner sci fi geek led the way through the twists and turns and slow reveals of Raquel’s back story. It was a worthwhile journey. In the end, I understood Raquel. I didn’t love her; I didn’t even forgive her. But I did want, ever so badly, for her to be healed at last, to have peace in her soul and a chance at happiness. That’s usually how I feel about alpha heroes in romance novels. Interesting.
When we first meet Nick Venture he is having what, up until that point, was probably the worst day of his life. Living in a doomed underground city on a dying planet, he gets fired from his job, arrested in a bar brawl and sentenced to death by hard labor. This will turn out to be a pleasant day in comparison to what lies ahead. As the last living descendent of Christopher Columbus, he is offered a chance at living if he takes on the role of figurehead to an exploratory journey in search of a rumored livable planet. Nick is a regular guy, extraordinary only for his heritage, plucked from obscurity and thrust into a role that he turns out to be not very good at. Let’s stop right here and think about that.
The hero of this story is not terribly heroic. There were several points in the story, as Nick was endlessly fantasizing about Raquel’s sumptuous lady bits, that I was actually frowning at my Kindle and urging Nick to get his head out of his underwear and focus on the damn mission. You know, Nick, the one to save all of humanity? At another point in the story, while moping at the bedside of a comatose Raquel (plenty of soap in this space opera), he disintegrates completely. I, alongside every still-living character in the book, was pleading with Nick to collect his cajones and go save the dying babies of Earth. But does he? Nope. He stays with Raquel, trying to wish her back to consciousness and completely broken without her. He didn’t seem to know he’s supposed to set aside his own personal feelings in the name of the greater good. That’s what heroes do, dammit. But as a man, as a real person, he’s intriguing. He knows he’s weak, he knows he’s being selfish and self-centered, and a part of me, gawdhelpme, swooned a little at the thought of a man who would put the woman he loved ahead of an entire planet. So very romantic and so very, very wrong. I do so enjoy it when writers do the unexpected.
I’ve read other reviews of this book and I know that many enjoyed the erotic elements. I wish they’d been fewer and shorter. It’s not that they were badly written. Quite the contrary; one of my favorite scenes is when Nick finally gets his pirate naked up against the bulkheads. Forgive me if I sound sexist when I say – that woman needed a damn good rogering, and Nick did himself proud. But I felt that the sex scenes went on too long and sometimes stopped the plot dead in its tracks. I was thoroughly enjoying the twisty, pulpy, soapy plot, with its earth-in-peril, its cast of lively and interesting characters, its vivid world building and its epic love story, so I ended up skimming over the erections and secretions and much of the final epic sex scene. I often have this problem with erotica when I feel the sex is overwhelming a good plot. I found one short scene, featuring the wettest and longest kiss in the history of the universe – at gunpoint – to be more arousing than the lengthier sex scenes. Which probably says more about me that I should admit to.
I highly recommend this story to: romance readers with a taste for the unusual, science fiction readers with a taste for the raunchy, and readers of all kinds who enjoy a rollicking space adventure story. In the end this story worked so well for me because I could not stop clicking ‘next page’ on my Kindle late into the night when I should have been sleeping. I wasn’t just reading. I was immersed in a world and experiencing a gamut of emotions: horror, anger, arousal, hope, relief, love and contentment. I let out the hugest sigh of happiness at the end. Every romance reader knows what I’m talking about. I enjoyed the happy ever after for Nick and Raquel as much as I enjoyed that humanity survives its own stupidity once again. *sigh* I’m in my happy place.
Ms. Massey, thank you for your art.