reviews science fiction romance

Ynyr – sexy SFR book review

Ynyr (Tornians, #3)Ynyr by M.K. Eidem

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, so, this wasn’t quite the same grade of crack that was Grim (Tornians #1) but it still hit my craving and left me wanting more. I’m about to go buy the one about his parents because I cannot get enough of this series.

Once again, a small Earth female manages to steal the heart and soul of an alien Tornian male and wrap him around her little finger. As before, she is completely right and only does good things with this power, bringing improvement and enlightenment to the land. When anyone disagrees, she explains why they are wrong, and everyone realizes the truth. God, I love this series!

The spelling and grammar was much better in Ynyr, but I thought it had a lot less going on. This is because it takes place over a few days rather than over the weeks that it took in Grim. It feels like a much shorter novel. There was still good action and sex, especially in the beginning, but not as much of either. There’s only two major sex scenes and then they are too busy to get together. In Grim, they have sex (and Lisa sends her kids to bed or to get dinner) like every other scene, so it’s definitely a big difference.

I was completely blindsided by the twist with the heroine! I don’t get surprised too often by books these days, so two thumbs up for that.

So, altogether fewer plot points, sex scenes, and a smaller story overall made this feel like half the book of Grim, but it still had all of the elements that made me enjoy the first book so much.

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Andromeda’s Fall – SF book review

Andromeda's Fall (The Prequel Legion Series, #1)Andromeda’s Fall by William C. Dietz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is essentially Starship Troopers with a female protagonist. It’s my first exposure to Dietz; I will now be looking up his previous works. The heroine is kick-ass and seeing the futuristic French Foreign Legion as a new recruit is visionary sci-fi writing at its best.

I started the book at midnight thinking, “I’ll just read the first sentence…paragraph…page…chapter…” and finished the book at 4:38am.

Others complained that the female protagonist’s switch from society girl to hardened soldier happened a little too fast. I thought that was perfect – she was always a soldier at heart, she just needed to find her way to the recruiting office.

Five thumbs up.

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reviews science fiction romance

Peyton 313 – SFR book review

Peyton 313 (Cyborgs: Mankind Redefined, #1)Peyton 313 by Donna McDonald

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s not often that I will give an i-am-the-wrong-reader tag to a 4-star book. Peyton 313 is well-written, intelligent, emotional SFR that I should 100% love, except for all of the rape (my trigger point). It’s sad, but it means I will probably never read another of Donna McDonald’s books and I wouldn’t have read this one either had I known.

The Good: Concept, plot, science, characters, awesome series.

I love, love, love the concept. War heroes converted against their knowledge or will into mindless “Cyber Husband” gigolos for corporate profit are given back their memories and free will. There are also prisoners, kidnap victims, and others forced to become cyborgs. It’s a bit of the 1940s eugenics plus forced sterilization in a corporate government state. I think future books will continue the fight.

The characters are highly sympathetic. The war heroes who gave their own bodies to serve their country only to be betrayed at their homecoming strikes an all-too-plausible nerve. The heroine, cyborg creator Kyla, cries her whole way through each free will “restoration” out of guilt for her complicity in making the cyborg program work originally and in not speaking out against the Cyber Husband program when it was later implemented.

How Kyla and Peyton fight the corporation is highly satisfying, as are the surprises, twists, betrayals, and final resolution.

The Meh: Sex, pacing, conversation, rape.

So Kyla is in her fifties and Peyton is also (although we are told he has the body of a 25-year-old). They have what I would call “mature” sex, which is something I haven’t really read up to now. There is no hot explosion of passion, and there’s lots of conversation and multiple previous partners, so it’s definitely like two multiple-divorcees/widow/ers getting together in the sack. I prefer a bit more passion, but that is a personal preference. It’s still touching and sweet, and they obviously love each other. Yay!

I would say that 3/4 of the book is conversation, which considering how much stuff gets electrified or destroyed, causes the book to feel slow and out of balance at parts. Kyla talks a lot. Peyton, once he becomes human, points this out and then also fills more than his fair share of pages. I feel like a lot of it could have been cut. It really slows the pacing, even as it reveals their emotional states. Oh, and I strongly preferred Peyton as an eloquent robot to the dick-saluting, “Whatever you say, Doc,” human. Again, this is stylistic and just my personal preference.

The real problem for me is the rape trigger points, of which there are multiple examples in this book(view spoiler)

Kyla is a sexual trauma survivor. This isn’t revealed until quite far into the book, and it’s a key plot point, so it’s not gratuitous or done just to make us hate the villains. It doesn’t affect her ability to have sex with Peyton. Honestly, it’s told so obliquely that it’s not completely clear what all happened except that she had non-consensual sex with three mysterious men at the request of her husband. She gave consent to have sex with one stranger, but while she was tied up and blindfolded, two more forced her to do things she had not consented to while her husband watched. This sounded like a horrible rape, honestly. I am very sorry it happened to her, and I wish it hadn’t. She later finds out who the men were when one of them attempts to rape her a second time. She converts one to a cyborg and puts herself in power over the other two. If this backstory was the only rape in this book, I would probably read the next in the series, but sex trauma seems to be a strong recurring theme in McDonald’s oeuvre.

Marshall, a failed restoration, is the second sexual trauma survivor. He was sexually abused during his POW days, and being forced to face those memories causes him to lose the will to live.

Gloria is a kidnap victim who was converted to a cyborg to become one of the villain’s sex slaves. I believe, although I could be wrong, that she is the heroine of Marcus’s book.

I guess technically, all of the Cyber Husbands are rape survivors, as they were forced to have sex without their consent. This is not explicitly mentioned, but it’s definitely there and so the rest of the examples certainly fit. And I get it, I do. But I just refuse to read rape novels, not even hopeful survivor tales where there is some measure of justice (hide spoiler)].

Ironically, in the back of this book (Kindle edition) there is an excerpt of Book 6 in a completely different SFR series. Although it’s only two chapters long, that’s enough for us to learn that the heroine and her sister were repeatedly loaned out or sold by their powerful father to be victimized in violent or non-consensual sex. This is common on the world and causes many to escape. Home again by trickery, she is imprisoned and intending to be sold once again.

Clearly “sexual trauma survivor” is one of McDonald’s major themes. I strongly prefer NOT to have this element present in my pleasure reading, so I will not be picking up any further books, sadly.

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reviews science fiction romance

Mercenary Instinct – sexy SFR book review

Mercenary Instinct (Mandrake Company, #1)Mercenary Instinct by Ruby Lionsdrake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my god, I loved this book! It’s been so long since I’ve read a wonderfully satisfying romantic sci-fi read. Ankari was the best “prisoner” ever, and I loved Captain Mandrake. I love Anne McCaffrey and Nalini Singh, and this reminds me exactly of those kinds of amazing, satisfying reads. I think the last book I enjoyed this much was Lois McMaster Bujold’s Shards of Honor. Ten stars!

Okay, now that I’ve finished squeeing, let’s get down to business.

Ankari is trying to get a futuristic start-up off the ground that will refine alien super-poop into health supplements. (Everyone thinks she’s so crazy it just might work, and it’s actually based on current research into gut bacteria and IBS/Crohn’s disorders, so as a reader I think it just might work too.) She’s out collecting specimens when a sexy mercenary captain takes her and her crew hostage. Someone has put a bounty on their heads! She legitimately can’t imagine who would do that or why. The sexy captain is a bit more jaded and thinks she could probably come up with something. After she accurately shoots him in a gunfight, pickpockets several items from right under his nose, breaks out of prison, knocks out his guards, and essentially makes herself a (resourceful) nuisance, he doesn’t know whether to tie her up or kiss her. And she feels the same way about him.

He admires her spirit and resourcefulness, and so despite the fact that she is his prisoner, their relationship always seems more than equal. I really loved that about the story. And he’s not a complete jerk at all, which a less skilled author would totally do. I hate over-alpha men. The captain pretty much lets her do as she pleases or shakes his head as soon as he finds out about it. This comes from a place of respect.

Although it frustrates her that she can’t convince him of her innocence at first, Ankari has no problem taking her wild child image and running with it. The more she seduces him (and pickpockets his stuff) the more she finds that she likes the seducing. He’s surprisingly honorable and she thinks they could get along well if only they were on the same side rather than on opposite sides.

And then they have the opportunity to do that…

There is plenty of excellent action. The sex is hot and sexy, and there’s a nice build-up that takes into account their initial power imbalance (prisoner/guard), growing respect, and finally uncontrollable attraction.

I also loved Ankari’s decorating sense! Her pink ship is just wonderful.

The only thing I didn’t like has nothing to do with this book, actually. Ankari’s two business partners are both sweet, sexually deprived women who clearly need their own romances, but the next several books do not feature them. I’m kind of disappointed and that has prevented me from immediately diving into the sequel. I still have faith that I’m going to love it, though, so I have already downloaded it onto my eReader and it’s just a matter of time and opportunity before I dive in. I really hope it’s just as good!

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reviews science fiction romance

Beneath a Trojan Moon – sexy SFR novella

Beneath a Trojan Moon (Phoenix Adventures Book 4)Beneath a Trojan Moon by Anna Hackett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a decent novella.

The Good: Sexy; pretty descriptions of a lush fortune-telling booth, house, and asteroid; interesting world building.

The Meh: The hero wasn’t my style; action was hard to picture.

The heroine is secretly an alien species that has been hunted to extinction because they have god-like psionic powers. Someone has recognized her from her jewelry and is now trying to kidnap her and steal her stuff. She must rely on local law enforcement so that her identity and powers aren’t revealed. A while ago, she trusted a lover with her identity and he sold her out, so she now can’t trust the sexy cop who keeps telling her to trust him. Also, she takes in local orphan girls and trains them to be fortune tellers.

As stated at the start of the review, this was a decent story that mostly kept me engaged; when my mind wandered, it was short enough that I decided to finish it. The cop is trying to figure out her secret for the first part, then telling her what to do for the second. You’d think that he would appreciate that she had kept herself alive for this long and give her some props for handling things herself, but no, he’s too alpha for that. This will definitely make him attractive to many readers but for me it detracted. I kept thinking he was like Channing Tatum in Jupiter Ascending if he had been way more of a jerk.

I also had a hard time picturing the market and planet. It was really hard to figure out how big it was. That might be my fault – I do skim sometimes! – and not the author’s. The heroine would be running between tents and then pass a floating grav-truck. Or the hero would park at the law enforcement office and then walk (?) to the heroine’s house. Are these like a block apart or a couple miles? It’s nit-picky but it did interfere with my enjoyment. Especially in comparison to the way she describes the food, the tea, the silks, the jewels, the furnishings…those parts are really lovely. I wanted to understand more of what I was seeing.

Overall, I’d recommend it as a quick, sexy SFR read.

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reviews science fiction romance

Grim – sexy SFR book review

Grim (Tornians, #1)Grim by M.K. Eidem

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG THIS BOOK IS CRACK COCAINE. No, I am serious. Reading this was like opening up a vein and dumping in SFR goodness in its most emotional, roller-coaster form. I could not put down my Kindle. Someone had to pry it out of my hands before I pulled an all-nighter.

But like crack, not everyone will be able to get over the impurities. Every reader has to note the spelling and grammatical errors. They do get worse as the book progresses, but by then you will be so hooked that you won’t care. I saw the first error in the “Look Inside” preview on Amazon and I bought the book anyway, spending “full price” for an ebook, and it was worth the whole ride, impurities and all.

Words are misused. Verbs change tense in the middle of sentences. For example, “He ran into the room and sees two people,” or “She looked up and realizes she loves him.” By that time, I could’ve read word salad and still been racing for the finish. Oh, and if the author had cut her favorite way to start/end a scene, something to do with “Girls, it’s time for dinner/bed,” then I think the book would’ve been 30 pages shorter. But whatever. Skimming to find out what would happen next!!!

Back to the crack part. I think that, aside from the story and the characters and all of the good parts, the reason this book yanked my gut strings and glued my eyes to the screen is that it is one long wish fulfillment rant. You know when someone says something mean, and you feel hurt or angry, and then two hours later you think of the perfect comeback? This book is one long string of the heroine thinking of the perfect comeback, over and over and over again. Then she says it immediately. Everyone else realizes she’s right, the bad guy feels ashamed for being a jerk, and she wins. THAT IS THIS BOOK. From start to finish.

If you want the plot, go read the synopsis that’s included at the front. Then, if you don’t like it and you can’t handle the grammatical problems that you will definitely encounter, then stop immediately. It doesn’t get better – it only gets worse. But if you do like it, the whole book is just that good. Read it!

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