Greenshift by Heidi Ruby Miller – Memorable Characters & Heart Pounding Action

b3afc-greenshiftwebversionIn AMBASADORA, author Heidi Ruby Miller created a fascinating, and highly detailed ‘verse peopled with three-dimensional characters going about the business of surviving, falling in love, and navigating the intricacies of a complex and corrupt political overclass. Her second novel set in the same ‘verse, GREENSHIFT, takes a smaller bite of her ‘verse and explores the relationship between Armadan Captain David Anlow and botanist “Mari” Boston Maribu, both introduced in AMBASADORA.

Set prior to the events of AMBASADORA, GREENSHIFT starts with the incident that caused David to take an extremely early retirement from the Armada. We follow him as he adjusts to life as a civilian pilot aboard the “science” ship Bard. Where David is everything military, orderly, methodical, by-the-book, Mari is anything but. She is much like a wild woodland nymph in her own right, all riotous color and free-spirit. Naturally, David falls hard for her and she falls hard for him. I have to admit, I fell for him too.

But as in any good story, the course of true love cannot run smoothly. In Miller’s deft hands, their courtship plays out in a ‘verse so detailed that one can smell the scent bots, but so beautifully described that her world-building flows seamless through the story. One does not simply read Heidi Ruby Miller’s stories. One lives them along with the characters, inhabiting their skin and experiencing the adventure right along with them. And by adventure, I do mean a suspenseful, action-packed adventure. From the starting block, GREENSHIFT is filled with heart-pounding action and fight scenes that will have your adrenaline flowing.

The bad guys are sadistic and brutal, and the author isn’t squeamish about vivid descriptions of either. Miller takes on the seedy underbelly of her ‘verse, mixing vice with a rigid caste system. The results are a spoiled privileged class that exploits its inferiors, dabbling in deviant behaviors that would have made ancient Romans sit up and take notice. With Mari targeted by human traffickers bent on sex slavery, torture, rape, and murder, a dark sub-plot weaves through the story, casting a shadow over the budding romance.

Overall, GREENSHIFT lives up to the promise in AMBASADORA, and is an excellent prequel/followup to the first book. I truly enjoyed the author’s foray into side stories from her ‘verse and I hope GREENSHIFT won’t be the last.

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Book Review: Purged In Fire by TK Toppin

Purged In Fire (A Jax Marlin Novella - To Catch A Marlin #2)Purged In Fire by T.K. Toppin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m a big fan of TK Toppin’s “To Catch A Marlin” series. I just love the way the author has drawn the characters of Jax Marlin and her copper, Michael Pedroni, and I love how they do their intricate dance in a cat-and-mouse chase.

In Purged in Fire, Jax is up to her old tricks, tracking down a sadistic bad guy at Ring of Fire space station in order to give him some of his own. Pedroni, her ever dogged shadow is hot on her trail, still undecided whether to kiss her, or take her in.

Peppered with sly humor, the dichotomy between Pedroni’s by-the-book life view and Jax’s skewed perspective of right and wrong creates just enough conflict between the two that the reader can accept their unusual relationship. Both characters see their world in absolutes of right and wrong, though Pedroni insists on working within the system, Jax sees the system as part of the problem. While you cheer for them to share more than the occasional kiss, phone call, or flirt, your rational mind knows their relationship can never be, though these two are so obviously perfect for each other.

In true Marlin fashion, the setting is exotic and skillfully woven into the story, Jax and Pedroni spend a certain amount of time distracted by thoughts of the other, and the villain’s comeuppance is gruesome and in keeping with his crimes.

My only complaint with Purged In Fire is that it was far too short. I really enjoy the convoluted twists and turns of Toppin’s longer works. However, Purged In Fire was a fantastic escape and a quick read that I highly recommend.

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Book Review: To Catch A Marlin

What a fun ride!

From the start, the cat-and-mouse game between copper Pedroni and vigilante Jax had me hooked! I was in the boat from the get-go!

Pedroni is a burned-out police detective who would rather keep his feet on good old terra firma than go chasing a slippery vigilante to a space-based wonderland of debauchery. But because it’s Jacinda Fish, a.k.a Jax Marlin, he goes.

In the tradition of Leslie Charteris classic series “The Saint,” Jax is a cross of Catwoman, Xena, and Simon Templar, with ninja skills and catlike reflexes. Pedroni reminds me of both Columbo, with his sometimes deceptive and intentional bumbling, and Nick Charles with his delightful biting wit and self-effacing view of the world. In TK Toppin’s deft hands, the mix is pure GOLD!!

As the story progresses we get a sense of both characters’ internal conflict as they fight their attraction to each other. Pedroni, jaded enough to wonder if Jax way isn’t better, and Jax idealistic enough to want to do the right thing, come together in a perfect blend of moral ambiguity that leaves the reader questioning where the line should be drawn.

I laughed out loud at some scenes and held my breath in heart-pounding excitement at others. Toppin creates a full and rich world with amazing wonders and believable details and paints a brilliant picture of them in crystal clear detail. She does it with a light hand and a master’s touch. Her action scenes only lack the heart-thumping bass rhythms of a musical score.

Just when you think the story couldn’t get any better, there are space pirates! Not just any space pirates, either. Captain Taris is a memorable rapscallion who deserves a book or two of his own!

I didn’t want this book to end. My one consolation is that this is one of many stories starring Jax and Pedroni.

Please Ms. Toppin… keep them coming!

Book Review: Love’s Captive – Volarn Chronicles I

I really wanted to love this book. I like the premise of the story. The notion of Earth women being stolen to populate other worlds goes way back into the history of science fiction and has run the gamut from serious social commentary to high camp. So when I sat down to read Volarn Chronicles I: Love’s Captive, I had high expectations.

The pacing reminded me of Dune, with elaborate world-building and stage setting. The author created a lovely and vivid world of great depth, and she did it with beautiful language.

Love’s Captive weaves elements of fantasy into the science fiction, and as such has an historical feel to it, which I found an interesting dynamic in a science fiction romance. I did find myself skimming past page after page of detailed descriptions of clothing and furniture simply because I have so very little time to savor epic books.

I’m sure that fans of Dune and other epic science fiction will find Love’s Captive a rousing good read. It’s definitely the kind of book you want to sit down with when you have time to savor a story with intricate and rich details. And savor is exactly the word to describe the experience of reading Love’s Captive.

Blurb:

When Serena awakes, after a close and unpleasant encounter with some sort of stun gun, she very quickly learns that resistance is futile and escape only a yearned for dream. She, and the other Earth women Serena meets aboard ship with her, have been captured by the Moyds, interstellar merchants ..their mission, to procure fertile wives for the men of Volarn, where their race is endangered due to the wide-spread sterility of their own women. Learning this is at least some relief to the captured women, but Serena is disgusted to realize that they are nothing in these men’s eyes but baby makers. Regardless, she knows she has no choice but to face the fate that awaits her with as much dignity as she can muster. Once they arrive on Volarn, Serena learns that her assessment has not been entirely accurate. Using their power crystals in the Tarthra Ritual, the warriors approach the women with their crystals to find the mate most suited to them..a woman to love who can love them. Serena is chosen to become King Rhamus’ queen, but, just as she feels herself weakening to Rhamus’ romantic, passionate nature, Rhamus’ enemy, Xarath, abducts her. Rating: Contains explicit sex, graphic language and some violence

Book Review: BENEATH THE STARRY SKY by Jessica E. Subject

From the start, Jessica E. Subject’s BENEATH THE STARRY SKY had me hooked. I loved the way these two damaged people, Tamara and Josh, were brought together for what was supposed to be one night of guilt-free pleasure and ended up finding the acceptance they were both looking for.

The characters were well-rounded with all the little faults and foibles of people we all know. By the time they met, I was already rooting for them to find each other. The love scenes were very hot. They were also poignant, fun and funny. It was a quick read and I was sorry to reach the last page. I would love to know what happened between these two after the sun came up.

Book Review: KEIR by Pippa Jay

From the first scene I was hooked. I found myself rooting for Keir before I knew his story. The author weaves a sympathetic tale following tortured souls through a life-changing adventure. Her light touch keeps the characters easily relatable without ever dissolving into schmaltz.

Quin is an engaging heroine whose self-assurance, ingenuity and desire to help others immediately establishes her as a heroine of epic proportions. Keir is almost an anti-hero whose journey of self-discovery takes him to the darkest reaches of his own nature and eventually leads him to the hero within himself.

Together, they travel through time and space and save each other. This is a sweet love story woven through an epic adventure.

With shades of Doctor Who, Time Bandits, and LadyHawke, Keir is a different kind of SF romance that will leave you sighing long after you’ve closed the book.

Book Review: EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE by Liana Brooks

I HAVE A CRUSH ON DOCTOR CHARM!!

At first I wasn’t sure what to make of a superhero romance, but within the first few sentences, I was hooked!

I am sorry to say that I am not immune to Doctor Charm’s… uh… charm. In fact the entire story was completely charming! If the premise of a superhero falling for a supervillain isn’t enough to intrigue you, throw in four absolutely adorable little girls, a smattering of genetically engineered minions, and then blur the line between good guys and bad guys and you have the start of EVEN VILLAINS FALL IN LOVE.

I found myself rooting for Evan and his quest to repair his marriage and win back his superhero wife Tabitha (Zephyr Girl.)It’s not your ordinary romance by any stretch. It’s MUCH better.

If you haven’t read this one yet, you owe it to yourself to do so IMMEDIATELY!!! (As I turn up my Agree-With-Me Ray.)