Reading Fanatic Reviews

Romantic Science Fiction

Henry and Sophie by Grant Eagar

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Henry and Sophie*

Elements Out of Place

I was not wild about this book. I’m having a hard time putting a finger on precisely why I didn’t like it. Maybe part of it is the opening scene where there was a catfight, brief though it was, that didn’t seem to fit with the story. I felt other elements seemed out of place. I was so looking forward to digging into a steampunk story, as I don’t read them that often and I usually find them quite fun. The book does have some action, though, so if you read it, you won’t be bored. And perhaps you won’t find it to be such an odd combination as I thought it was.

Million Miles Away by Alice Bane

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Million Miles Away*

Sci-Fi Romance with Serious Twists and Turns

Well, this book had some surprising twists and turns! I don’t read a lot of sci-fi romance, because I find it’s usually pretty—pardon the pun—out there in terms of the romance. (I usually read historical romance.) This one appeared to be different when I first saw it on my favorite book review site, and it is, indeed. The heroine finds herself with an array of maladies she can’t explain but is impacting her life more and more. Very near the start of the book, while napping, she senses herself being some place else. Come to find out, she sometimes travels to an alien ship that is near Earth, previously unbeknownst to her. She comes to know the doctor who takes care of her there; he says she is being treated for a particular parasite. But, as we find out a little after the midpoint of the book, he has not been truthful with her. It definitely comes as a surprise. The evolving relationship between the heroine and hero, this alien doctor, is fascinating to watch as they learn more about each other and their different species and eventually fall for each other. The book has another shocking twist at the end, and very unfortunately, ends on a cliffhanger. I so hate it when books end on a cliffhanger! In fact, I might not have picked up this book if I had realized that, though I am glad I did as I found this to be a good read. I’ll be watching for the second half as I’m very curious to see how this all turns out.

Blade’s Edge by Val Roberts

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Blade's Edge*

Excellent Romantic Space Opera

Having read a fair amount of science fiction when I was younger, I have to say I like the modern trend within the genre so much better. I love sci-fi with strong female characters and where there is a good gender balance. I have come to really enjoy, as well, sci-fi romances, which didn’t exist back in the day. It was more guy, “buddy” sci-fi. This book had so much going on that I love to see in a space opera: political intrigue, lots of action, culture clash, characters who make a big story personal, and of course, a little romance. I thought it was cool, too, that romance didn’t just exist between the hero and heroine. The author showed the loving relationship between an older couple as well; what a delight! There is so much going on in this book, but the author is able to give each character presence and voice as well as strong motivations, goals, and conflicts. I felt immersed in the world pretty quickly and didn’t want to stop until I got to the end. This world is so complex and the character so fascinating it is perfect for a series; I look forward to digging into the next book.

Enigma: What Lies Beneath by Ditter Kellen

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Enigma: What Lies Beneath*

Bonds Reinforced in Harrowing Circumstances

Abbie and Hauke have had a bond since they were children when he saved her from drowning. That comes alive when they meet again as adults when Hauke has been captured and is being kept for further study; he is due to be transported to Area 51. He is from an underwater race of beings that are unknown to humans. Abbie and Hauke are soon on the run, trying to protect each other and figure out all that is going on with the deadly virus. I like how this couple could communicate telepathically; the author made their bond, even before mating, seem very real. Abbie is a supposedly intelligent woman, but some things that she thought or said didn’t come across that way to me. I also thought that the beginning of the book was told in a too-detached fashion, almost clinical in places. The book is surprisingly sensual, and this is described in great detail. This is a very steamy read; it was a bit over-the-top on occasion. However, I enjoyed their relationship and watching the conflicts they faced unfold.

Of Sound Mind and Someone Else’s Body by William Quincy Belle

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Of Sound Mind and Someone Else's Body*

Illuminating, 18+ Freaky Friday that Looks at Social and Gender Issues

What a wholly different and intriguing book! It’s a very adult, 18+ Freaky Friday variant, with the mind-swap happening between a sex worker and a man in a corporate job. The switch happens almost right away when the man finds his consciousness suddenly in the female sex workers body while she is plying her trade. Parts of this book are highly amusing as both come to grips with their new lives in a different body. But it also gives them an awareness of the trials and tribulations of the other gender in broader society (as well as the difficulty of wearing stilettos). I really enjoyed the conversations between the two mind-swappers. The author makes many points about gender inequality and society without preaching; through the characters, he shows rather than tells. There is some swearing and crude language in the book, but it did seem appropriate in context. I found this to be an illuminating and fascinating read.

Fall from the Moon by C. S. Hale

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Fall From the Moon*

Compelling Mix of Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and Romance

What a delightful and engaging read! This book takes the theme of time travel romance that is so popular today because of Outlander and spins the premise on its head. This is science fiction, fantasy, and time travel romance all rolled into one very well-done story. The futuristic heroine is as modern as we are and is traveling through space when she becomes marooned on a planet that is actually a Do Not Contact planet for the agency she works for. The people and culture on this planet mirror what we would call medieval on Earth. So this future woman with modern sensibilities—and with cool nanobots running around in her blood repairing her crash injuries and a communication device that can learn a new language in a few hours—is stuck on a planet with a much cruder society than she is familiar with.

The author was able to pull me right into the story with a dramatic scene of what was happening on her ship before she crash-landed. Compared to the world that she came from, this new one is so different, and she has choices that she must make right away to maintain her survival. She can be very cool and analytical at times, and she needs to be to survive both initially on the ship and on the new world. I absolutely loved both her and the hero. To add a further fantasy/mystical element, the hero believes that she is a prophesied savior, which is why he insists on marrying her when she arrives. This book was just so well done, with characters that you could relate to and root for. The heroine’s thoughts and commentary were just priceless. I really enjoyed this book.

My Big Fat Alien Wedding by Fiona Roarke

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My Big Fat Alien Wedding*

Another Fun Trip to Alienn

It is brother Axel’s turn for romance! The woman he thinks is just a worker on board a ship visiting the way-station is actually from one of the more prominent families on Alpha-Prime. She has never fully felt appreciated there but has lived the life that has been proscribed for her—including agreeing to an arranged marriage. Meeting Axel gets her thinking about the possibilities.

This is now the fourth books that I have read in this series about Alienn, Arkansas. Like the rest, I thoroughly enjoyed this installment. There’s delightful tongue-in-cheek humor that at times borders on slapstick with great turns of phrase. The pacing of the book is right on. I love getting glimpses of the other characters I’ve come to know and love, like the other Grey brothers and their Aunt Dixie. Axel was sweet when he just fell for her so quickly, not really know that much about her. He is a simple man who just wants the woman of his dreams.

How to Lose an Alien in 10 Days by Fiona Roarke

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How to Lose an Alien in 10 Days*

How Do I Love This Series? Let Me Count the Ways!

This is the third installment of this delightful, humorous romantic sci-fi series that I have read. I continue to be absolutely charmed by this aliens-on-Earth series. In this particular installment, Cam—the chief security officer for the alien way station on Earth—meets an intriguing young woman when he goes just outside of Alien’s borders to a karaoke bar. This is his little secret getaway that he likes to do on occasion; close enough to home that he can be contacted if needed but a world away otherwise. Unbeknownst to him, this girl is actually a runaway from a spaceship that has just recently come to the way station. She wanted to experience a little bit of life on Earth and perhaps get away from her affianced. A marriage has been arranged for her, and she is not happy with the choice of groom.

As always in these books, there is a lot of delicious humor and wordplay. The romance really did seem to be ramped up in this one but in a believable way. I like how the heroine tests Cam to go beyond his gotta-play-by-the-rules mentality. The romance is a lovely one to follow, and given the circumstances as they get more and more complicated, it’s hard to see their way to a proper HEA. But that’s the fun of reading a romance! I so enjoyed these characters and their story. I am very much looking forward to my next trip to Alienn, Arkansas.

Finding My Lich by Christina Winds

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Finding My Lich*

Beautiful Love Story Cloaked in Morality Play

Eric is the king of Abaddon who has been tasked with figuring out the way that his banished people will be allowed to be brought back to Earth. He has a portal through which he can go between Earth and Abaddon. He had thought this would be a relatively easy task, but centuries have gone by. He learned some lessons early on, like charity and justice, but others took longer to appreciate. Sands in an hourglass mark this immortal’s progress, and he hasn’t seen any in decades. What pieces of the puzzle is he missing?

This book comes across, and not in a bad way, as a mixture of morality tale and paranormal romance. Eric and Tamara are decent, good-hearted, and kind people who want the best for their worlds. They have different strengths and weaknesses, yet their strengths are intensified when they are together and their weaknesses diminished. It was interesting to watch Eric struggle as he was trying to figure out this big puzzle that has been set before him. He wanted to do right was by his own people, getting them back to a world they had been banished from, and by the humans, with whom he wants to coexist peacefully. The lessons that he learns are lessons that would benefit us to fully appreciate, which is why I call this, at least in part, a morality tale. But it is told with such beauty and elegance that it doesn’t feel like the author is preaching or moralizing. The love story between Eric and Tamara is beautifully rendered. You can truly see how each makes the other into a better version of themselves, in ways that are physical, mental, and spiritual.

The book did have some strange issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage. Some punctuation was left off, like an occasional period, and hyphens were not always used appropriately.

That said, I found this book to be an engaging read, both in the gentle moments and in the more harsh ones. Eric and Tamara are a great couple to follow as they learn about each other, each other worlds, and their true roles within them. It’s hard for me to figure out the precise genre for this, as it has elements of science fiction, romance, and the paranormal. There’s even a touch of suspense as Eric tries to figure out precisely what he is supposed to learn. If you like stories that cross genres like that, you might find this book to be as compelling as I did.

Marrying Mars by Shay Quin

Marrying Mars*

The Bachelor: Mars Edition

We meet Billie after her friend convinces her to do a call-in show that use subterfuge to figure out if someone’s partner is cheating on them. We watch her devastation and public humiliation as she finds out that her friend is right; her boyfriend has been cheating on her., She moves out and retreats into herself, her only enjoyment being watching the reality TV show about the in-progress colonization of Mars. At the start of the new season, her celebrity crush on this show, Marsden, announces a spin-off show in which women will compete to be his bride; Earth citizens can pick the final 5, but Marsden gets the ultimate yeah or nay. Billie decides to enter. What does she have to lose?

How will Billie do in all the tests and competitions that are a part of the show? Can she make him notice her? Will she be able to develop real feelings for this man while he’s on Mars and she’s on Earth? Will she win?

The author did an excellent job of showing the state of Billie’s life before it all went downhill. It was a gripping scene to watch her go through that call-in show where she finds out about her boyfriend’s infidelity. I love that Billie is an unapologetically normal sized woman in a world where tinier is better. She is an empathetic character, and I love her humor, which is often self-deprecating. I actually did laugh out loud a few times. I found to be such an enjoyable, guilty-pleasure read with just that little bit different, but fascinating spin on something that we’re already familiar with. Fans of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette will enjoy this for sure!

Disclosure

The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

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