This is a romantic science fiction author I’ve been meaning to try for a while so I grabbed the eARC and used it to test out the new nook. This was provided by the publisher, Harlequin.
The Premise: This is a story about a hero and heroine who belong to rival spice pirate clans. Valeeya (Val) Blue is the daughter of the clan leader and a relatively new raider, when the Blue’s hijack of a ship is crashed by the Sureblood clan, lead by Dake Sureblood. Although the pirate clans once worked together, for years they’ve been having more and more disagreements as there is little communication and many misunderstandings that have bred mistrust. Forced to work together on the hijacked freighter when the Coalition appear and start shooting at them, they both discover someone they can respect and admire. Their cooperation opens the door for potentially uniting the pirate clans and romance blossoms between the young space pirates, until a murder and betrayal rips them apart again.
My Thoughts: This book started with a bang. The story is set in space and there’s lots of action as Val and Dake do what space pirates do – suit up and raid other ships for the stolen zelfen ore inside (the mine owner, Nezerihm pays them a bounty for the return of it). What gripping reading each raid was! The preparation and adrenaline involved in the attacks. The camaraderie among the pirates. The customs, such painting their faces and refusing to wear oxygen masks in the thin air. And when the hero and heroine meet in this setting, I was loving it. I love the idea of a heroine who is a space pirate, and that the hero is one too, and that he accepts her is wonderful. The action amidst the stars and spaceships was very cool. I was mentally making comparisons to my favorite SF author, Linnea Sinclair.
When Val and Dake went planet-side for their celebration which brought together many pirate clans, the setting of Val’s very low-tech, humid village was an odd contrast to the high tech universe that they belonged to, but not enough to throw me. I was rather relieved that although Dake and Val were from different clans that don’t see eye to eye, they DO want to bridge the gap and form alliances, and so does Val’s father. Things look good at first but then of course Conflict butts in. During the tentative, fledgling moments of possible peace amongst the pirate clans, there is a terrible betrayal which causes a huge wedge between the Blue’s and the Surebloods, which splits the other pirate clans apart as well. Years (I believe it was 10?) pass after this event tears the hero and heroine apart.
It’s probably around this point that the book felt like it lost some of it inventiveness that had been delighting me. After the hero and heroine fell in love, the story threw wrenches at their relationships that were rather forced rather than natural. One of my biggest problems was the bad guy and how long it took the hero and heroine to figure out who he was. His machinations against the pirates for his own gain were so transparent, that even the main characters commented that they didn’t trust him and yet he wasn’t an immediate suspect when things start going wrong. I was hard to swallow that no one was really suspicious of him and instead blamed each other. It didn’t help that he was two dimensional, complete with a sadistic, child-torturing streak (I found the secondary bad guy a little more sympathetic and human, but he was not the main adversary), In the meantime, the long forced separation of the hero and heroine, along with the secret pregnancy (mentioned in the book’s blurb so it’s not a spoiler, but I blacked it out anyway) put the storyline too much into the romance cliche category despite it’s space setting. The final pages were so twee that it weakened my initial impression of the romance.
Overall: Pretty good. It started off strong with an exciting, space-pirate (!!) battle and a hero and heroine who are leaders in that livelihood, but also uses a of a couple of romantic cliches I’m not particularly fond of. I’d say I enjoyed myself and would read something else by this author. I’d recommend it to people who are fans of SFR, looking for a light read, and wouldn’t mind a perhaps overly-sweet ending.
Sureblood releases August 1st, 2010
Impressions of a Reader.. – B