freebie reviews science fiction romance

Review: A Viking’s Peace – Sexy SFR

A Viking's Peace: Futuristic Science Fiction Romance (Vikings in Space Book 1)A Viking’s Peace: Futuristic Science Fiction Romance by Zoe York
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was so excited about this book! Vikings in space?! They reconstructed a whole world according to Viking lore and even have “unicorns” and “dragons,” alien fauna that happen to conform to Earth ideals(?). But like these mysterious fauna that are mentioned but never actually seen, the idea of this book is way more awesome than the actual story.

The heroine is a young officer on a trade negotiation mission to the Viking world. The hero is a divorced prince/scientist who wants to ensure that the negotiations get the medicine (?) their world needs without opening them up to Earth exploitation (?). If they give in to their mutual attraction, both king and military will be pissed (?). And if the heroine decides to follow her heart and marry the prince, she will have to give up her promising military career (?) to stay on the Viking world.

Notice the number of question marks in the previous paragraphs? Yes. I spent most of this book being confused.

It’s excellent writing. But it oddly felt like “Book Five” or something, where all the information has already been shared, and the reader already ought to know what’s going on. (view spoiler)

The hero thinks that if he shows the heroine the rustic village where his friends live, then she will “understand” and prevent exploitation. …Exactly who is trying to exploit what? Okay, he doesn’t want a way of life turned into a tourist trap. How is taking his girlfriend to see it as a tourist going to save that from happening? Her place on the mission is never actually explained.

The sex was also all disjointed and weird. They share a sexy kiss, then decide to stop. But the kiss was captured on camera, so they text each other surreptitiously instead and the heroine uses a fancy massage oil gift from the hero to get herself off. But the hero can’t contain himself and comes over for a visit. But then he can contain himself, and takes off before he gives in to have sex with her. Later, after a mysterious amount of time passes, he shows up so they can fight. Then he carries her off to have sex. This causes an international incident when her CO shows up to berate her public bad behavior. The hero then asks her to marry him, and she forgets that she ever wanted a career and happily accepts. They have sex on a pile of presents, the only Viking tradition that is actually described in great detail.


The other thing that bothered me about the whole book is that, like the unicorns and dragons, the scenes end *right before the good part* or skip that good part entirely. So there is a naked welcome banquet, and when it starts, the hero and heroine walk outside. They walk out! To a quiet garden, just like any other garden in the whole universe, while a Viking naked orgy is happening in the other room! Later, a big deal is made about this sexy massage oil, and then the hero skates out before anything too sexy happens. And later, the heroine absolutely has to try out rustic village living…and it skips to two weeks later, where she’s perfectly acclimated to wearing her hair down and hauling buckets of firewood.

Maybe the author over-reached and tried to cram too much good stuff into one book. Fine. But it ended up coming off as a well-written Earth story where she did some find-replaces and pasted over typical kitchen-bedroom-neighborhood grocery store scenes with more awesome Viking ones, and then left them as cardboard cut-outs. Obviously they should have ridden dragons to the rustic village! Why settle for a shuttle? And if she was going to walk out of a Viking orgy, she ought to have walked into the Garden of Unicorns. So many frickin’ missed opportunities. (hide spoiler)]

I bet this author is great with sports romance or contemporary. I can’t read another Zoe York sf because I will drop dead of disappointment.

5 stars for ability to write, 1 star for confused plot and skipping all the good parts = 3 stars.

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reviews science fiction romance

Review: Accidental Abduction – Erotica SFR

Accidental Abduction (Alien Abduction, #1)Accidental Abduction by Eve Langlais
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I actually read this book a few months ago so my impressions are not as fresh. But overall I enjoyed this book by Eve Langlais way more than her cyborg series.

Interestingly, she plays the rape-threat card early and often, but unlike in the cyborg series, no one really cares. It’s like watching an action movie where hundreds of people get shot but you don’t see a single drop of blood. I like those “clean” violent action movies (*Commando* with Arnold Schwartzenneger has to have the highest body count to the lowest amount of actual blood) and this was like the book version of that.

The heroine starts out incredibly annoying. It took me weeks to get through the first two pages. She’s a “snarky” BBW whose smart mouth isn’t matched by an equally smart brain. She needs a strong partner that won’t smack her around, but her most recent choice pushes her off a yacht to drown. She’s then accidentally abducted by a purple alien Han Solo, who is the scariest bounty hunter in the universe, and coincidentally, fits her bill.

Here is where things got fun, and I read the whole thing without putting it down again.

The heroine whines and complains and runs from the hero and then throws herself at him. He deals with this mother-of-all-bipolar-women behavior by threatening to sell her off as a sex slave to the highest bidder. She tells him, “Oh sure, that’s just like a man.” Luckily, they both get off on a good grudge f*ck, so the rest of the book is them figuring out how to insult each other until they’re both furious and then get off.

Did I mention this is erotica?

There’s some plot about sibling rivalry, more kidnappings, and an evil intergalactic lord who wants to force the hero to work for him. It’s pretty dramatic and fun, but it’s all secondary to the sex.

The only thing that bothered me about the heroine (after page three) is that it says she’s a computer programmer as a day job. She’s also rich enough to have a yacht and men are apparently murdering her for her money. Oh, and she’s a loner, with no real friends. I guess she has a lot of problems. But the only one that really struck me was the mention of her computer programming job.

I kept wondering what company would hire her. She shows absolutely zero interest in learning anything about how the ship operates. A real computer programmer would at least show a tiny interest in the technology. She also makes zero puns. Fluency in puns is like fluency in coding skills. It’s requisite for all computer programmers. Even if you don’t like them yourself, you can’t not see the puns all around you. I blame programming books that teach you how to program by combining phrases containing “foo” and “bar”. Anyway, I didn’t buy this career thing at all, and I thought she was lying for some reason (to herself?).

But as I said before, anything not related to sex is pretty secondary, so it wasn’t like this was an important plot point or anything. It just mildly bothered me.

The next book starts with the hero’s brother chained to a woman’s bed. It looks like just as much fun. If you like this book, I suspect you will like the next ones too.

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Review: Marcus (Hell Squad 1) Sexy SFR

Marcus: Hell Squad (Hell Squad Book 1)Marcus: Hell Squad by Anna Hackett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like to give an author who writes well but doesn’t quite hook me with their first book at least one more chance to make me a fan. I didn’t love Anna Hackett’s novella set in her Phoenix treasure hunting sfr series, but I am so glad I got another chance with Hell Squad because it hit the spot.

Dinosaur-like aliens have invaded future Earth and driven humanity into hiding. A squad of commandos goes out to rescue survivors and battle the invaders. The heroine is a former party girl turned language expert and communications officer. The hero is the leader of the squad, a scarred former Marine who’s tough as nails and ten times the sexy.


I really enjoyed the relationship between hero and heroine. This was my main complaint against the novella I read, so I’m glad to see that Anna Hackett can write this in a way that engages me after all.

Although both lust for each other, the heroine had to fight hard to get on the team and believes the hero still only sees the society girl (which she also fears she still is) while the hero doesn’t want his scarred, bloodied hands to sully her perfection. It’s sweet. And when they finally do get together, the sex is pretty hot.

I loved the Hell Squad. Their catch phrase – “Hell Squad, ready to go to hell?” “Hell yes – the devil needs an ass-kicking!” is completely awesome. I can totally see a ragtag, post-apocalyptic commando team saying this. Someday I want to write about futuristic space marines a la Aliens, and the Hell Squad was a great example, so I felt like I should take notes. 🙂

I also found the base to be quite interesting. I did wonder where their food and supplies came from, but it wasn’t a show stopper. The alien descriptions and post-apocalyptic details were also sad and fitting.


Interestingly enough, I thought the plot, pacing, and even the action needed work. I found myself wondering why the author showed certain scenes but not others.

(view spoiler)

I didn’t get a real sense of progression or accomplishment from these scenes. Why introduce the torture scene? I get that it’s to prey on Marcus’s belief Elle can’t handle the true blood/guts/violence of war (and shouldn’t have to) but I felt like it could have been more directly woven in.

The translation is never really explained and doesn’t seem all that interesting. It would have been more helpful if the author had done some sort of symbol count down or something. It would also have helped if the author would have put in a bad-stuff-will-happen time bomb, like when the Death Star was coming up on the rebel base in the first Star Wars. They could’ve blown up the hub any time, so why now? It would have been much more compelling if the raptors were hacking their secret location and they had to blow up the hub or else risk being found. There’s nothing like an alien armada standing by with phasers powering up to make the story more exciting!

So in contrast to the relationship storyline, the main action plot kind of felt meh, like it wasn’t really building up to anything or going anywhere.

The secondary plot is that Elle (heroine) will get herself killed in the field. This was quite interesting. She is nearly skewered the first time out by an alien dog and then by a t-rex, so I expected her to get kidnapped by the aliens or at least separated from Marcus and have to save herself. This is even introduced when someone mentions that the aliens were keeping librarians alive. It would have been perfect to have her kidnapped here or on the later mission, held hostage, and forced to give information about how to find the base.

Instead, she never is remotely threatened. Another random team member, Zeke, bites it off stage. That really surprised me. It’s like a huge plot point – the hero and heroine nearly break up because he has to go into his cold place and she kills herself working on the translation – and she never faces real danger from the aliens. So…I felt like there was a lot of potential in this plot thread too, but it also fizzled and got strange.

Is the dead character, Zeke, going to come back in a future book? I mean, is he really dead? Was his only point to being killed so that the hero and heroine can have their little tiff? It feels sort of empty of meaning, I guess.

In the fight scenes, the bad guys just sort of show up, so there’s no element of building tension. (hide spoiler)]

Despite my complaints, I enjoyed this story fairly well and would not be sorry to read the next one.

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Oryon – sexy SFR novella review

OryonOryon by M.K. Eidem

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

God I love this whole series. Every single book (except Wray, which I’ve been afraid to read because I’m concerned about the rape trigger) is just like delicious crack.

This shorter work is still extremely satisfying for all the reasons that Grim and Ynyr are:

Plucky woman telling the men how they’re all wrong? Check.
All the (good) men realizing she’s right and then immediately changing their behavior based on it? Check.
Sexy sex? Check.
Bad guy’s plot unraveling in a satisfying way, with action and explosions and reversals and bloody fights? Check.
Furniture arranging and interior decorating? Check.

It was interesting to read about an old married Tournian couple rather than the Tournian warrior + plucky Earth female of the previous books, but it still worked. I loved reading about Isis and Oryon. They had plenty of discoveries about sex, which hadn’t been done in the previous novels, so those scenes felt fresh and interesting. And MKE writes great scenes of mothers and children, so I enjoyed those touching moments too.

Grim is still my favorite. Despite its major spelling/grammar problem, there’s just something about the “wounded warrior redeemed by a no-nonsense heroine” that appeals to me on a deep level. Oryon had much better editing, with only a few wrong words (“too” when it should have been “to” for example.) But they didn’t interfere with my comprehension or enjoyment, and I thought this novella was even better done than Ynyr, so I will probably reread.

Can’t wait for the next one in the series!

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Her Cyborg Awakes – SFR book review

Her Cyborg Awakes (Diaspora Worlds, #1)Her Cyborg Awakes by Melisse Aires

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not 100% sure how to rate this book. I was quite excited to read it because the premise is interesting and I’m writing my own similar robot sfr right now. The first half is probably a 4-4.5 stars for me due to the interesting set-up, but unfortunately the second half drops to 2 for execution.

Our heroine Sabralia is one of the neglected young wives of an evil dictator. Because she never gave him an heir, he has decided to turn her into a sex worker to service his military officers at the next banquet. She concocts a plan to escape that fate by tricking her dumb cyborg servant (a spy for the harem manager) into reporting that she is meeting a fictional officer on the beach, away from any witnesses.

Then (view spoiler), as advertised, her cyborg awakes.

The beginning is quite engaging. Sabralia is a very sympathetic character. She wasn’t schooled beyond sixteen, when she was given to the dictator in a treaty to protect her home world. She has survived okay in the harem by completely isolating herself, and even though the schooling issue bothers her, she still manages to make smart choices that control her destiny.

There is some yummy sexiness right at the beginning in the shower with the cyborg, but it’s also sweet and sad because she’s so lonely and he’s so clearly not sentient.

The rape-threat trope, which usually really bothers me as a trigger point, didn’t this time because (view spoiler)

Her cyborg is actually a warrior prince named Kaistril. He prefers hard, dangerous military women, not sweet, soft Sabralia. While they get to know each other as people, he teaches her useful skills (how to pilot and maintain a space ship, for example) and she begins to blossom.

However, then there is the second half of the book. Spoilers!

(view spoiler)

Except…the jewelry dealer asks no questions (?), she lifts her chin to dissuade the lawless young men who may or may not look at her one time, the agent who arranges her hotel stay sends her to a nice hotel in a nice part of town run by an honest, moral family who help them out, and the ship’s sale just goes swimmingly. The bad guys go to the wrong hotel room a few times and murder other people. She doesn’t find out about it until later. Nobody asks any questions. Nobody looks at them twice. There’s this build-up for danger and then nothing happens.

This part is probably only ten pages, but I swear, it felt like a thousand. I started skimming trying to get to the point.

The problem with it is that Sabralia demonstrates no skills. Things just happen to her. She gets lucky that her hotel people are honest, and that her agent wasn’t in the pocket of some local warlord. Luck is not interesting unless it’s bad luck. Where was the smart woman who figured out how to use her limited powers and resources to outwit the evil dictator and his harem manager? Wherever she went, it was apparently not to this station, which seems extremely law abiding and safe actually. 🙁

Then Kaistril’s brothers show up to save them. They become the new villains when they decide – without questioning Sabralia, based on practically no evidence – that she is a security risk and needs to be sent back to her home world. The consequences of this will be that she will put her home world at risk if her evil husband survived the coup, but they don’t know because they never conversed.

Now, when Kaistril wakes up, he correctly freaks out. But what seriously bothered me about this was REALLY??? It was such a stupid choice on his brothers’ part that I feel concern about their ability to fight a war. Don’t they have smarter people advising them? It’s a miracle they haven’t already been wiped out.

Sabralia’s smart self returns and she manages to avoid her captors (yay!) and make alternate plans (double yay!). Unbeknownst to her, she has an ID transmitter that is leading the bad guys to her. (Note: Why didn’t this lead the bad guys to her earlier in the hotel? There may have been a plot reason that I read at the time. I can’t remember now, even though I finished the book yesterday.) Kaistril and his brothers redeem themselves by saving her.

Then, instead of racing back to the ship, she and Kaistril are instructed to go sight-seeing (?) which they then translate into returning to her rooms (!!!!) to get her stuff and actually to have reunion sex.

The sex is nice, but my mouth was hanging open. How do they know there’s only a few bad guys? How do they know that her new hotel room hasn’t been compromised? How stupid are the bad guys?

Answer: Apparently as stupid as the brothers.

That is what really bothered me about the second half. In the first half, she’s a victim of circumstances but she pluckily rises above them. In the second half, she possesses stolen jewels, a stolen ship, and valuable security intelligence against the most powerful intergalactic dictator of their time. He may be dead, maybe not. But if there is enough organization left in his military to chase after one little ship, aren’t they going to do it right?

An editor once said that the smarter and more powerful you make your villains, the smarter and more interesting your heroes must become to rise to the challenge. This book really demonstrates that truth. Unfortunately, the villains are absent or half-assed, so the heroes just kind of float to the ending without facing any real challenges. And, since so much was set up (Lawless space station! Evil dictator! Disabled hero + vulnerable heroine!) it was really disappointing to see all of the hot water evaporate away, leaving only a tepid few inches that the protagonists easily splashed through. (hide spoiler)]

So, I liked this book okay, but since it had the potential to be so much more, I finished it with a lingering sense of disappointment. I will probably give the author one more chance, but maybe not at full price.

FYI- there are a few spelling/formatting errors, but nothing that would really detract from my enjoyment of the story.

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C791 – SF erotica book review

C791 (Cyborgs: More Than Machines, #1)C791 by Eve Langlais

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First of all, what is up with cyborgs and sexual trauma? This is the third cyborg story in a row I have read where the heroine (and sometimes also hero) have been trauma survivors (usually still under threat) battling their former abusers. Strangely, none of them have had actual hang-ups because desire for the hero has wiped away the physical trauma for the terrible acts somehow. Whatever. Not so sexy.

My trigger issue aside, this was a well-written erotica, and so although this review is full of complaints, overall it was an enjoyable experience full of pages and pages and pages of hot sex.

The military is running a puppet government. They discovered that the cyborgs they had made out of brain-dead soldiers were starting to regain their autonomy, and tried to wipe them out. But, the soldiers rebelled and have now successfully created their own society elsewhere. They hate humans – except for the women they steal for sex – and want to discover the secret of their origins and creation so they can learn more about who stole their humanity, why, and how to procreate to sustain their separate society.

(Note: Wouldn’t babies made from these unions be human rather than cyborg? I guess that’s another reason they want to know their origin, so they also know how to create more. Technically I have contacts and a tooth implant, so I guess I’m already one of them. *g*)

On one of these reconnaissance missions, hero cyborg Joe discovers feelings for human lab technician Chloe. His solution is to kidnap her for sex.

(view spoiler)

The military general who viciously abused her is the one leading the assault. Just when defeat is complete, the cyborgs use their super powers to imprison the general. They intend to get the secrets out of his head once they get to their home world.

Although Joe promises to love Chloe no matter what, the other cyborgs are not so thrilled about the unnecessary deaths of all their friends. Their accusations accidentally drive her under power of the general once more. During the escape, the general gives her back her horrible memories. This somehow circumvents his control and she murders him with her bare hands.

At the end, it is revealed that eleven more women were made into cyborg sex bots. The other named main characters determine to find and rescue them. (hide spoiler)]

Although it is glossed over in this book, one of the more disturbing asides concerns the treatment of humans in the cyborg society. Joe states that they will kidnap women for sex, and the elderly or handicapped for parts. This could be dismissed as a threat to scare Chloe early on, but he later thinks about the women again when he is grateful that Chloe doesn’t scream and fight during her abduction (as others have done) and she doesn’t try to escape or hate her captors. Apparently the cyborgs believe all they have to do is give their kidnap victims good sex and they should forget their former lives. There is a risk that if Chloe doesn’t adapt to her new life, Joe will have to wipe her mind and turn her into a personality-devoid human sexbot.


This makes me believe that the kidnapping of the other vulnerable populations for parts is also a true statement, which is double-yikes! They also steal the women’s kids. Honestly, I would not want my children to be kidnapped with me in a society like this! I would never know when they might decide that one of my children had a hangnail and had to be parted out or something. Jeezus.

I expected at least the hypocrisy with women to be dealt with in this book, but I now wonder if that will be the subject of a future book instead. Ie, that the cyborgs are no better than the humans for stealing innocent people, treating their bodies as commodities, and destroying their humanity and their lives.

This is pretty dark stuff in comparison to the rest of the book.

I’m not sure whether the rest of the series, which I suspect will focus on other trauma victims, is going to be my cup of tea. Maybe I will read an excerpt of the next novel and see where it is going. I’m also not a huge erotica reader and I get bored the tenth time I read a sex scene in the same novel. Call me old fashioned, but I prefer the standard 90s Harlequin Blaze of three hot scenes per book instead.

If you like that stuff, though, you will find this book well-plotted and quite a decent read.

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