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In the Void by Sheryl Nantus

In the Void by Sheryl Nantus (Tales from the Edge #2)Released: October 6, 2014
Format: eARC
Publisher: Carina Press

Series: Tales from the Edge #2

Source: NetGalley

Excerpt: No

Book two of Tales from the Edge

Catherine Rodgers doesn’t like Mercy spaceships, or the courtesans who work on them—not after her husband left her for a Mercy woman. But after her luxurious transport ship gets blown up to prevent her from cracking the lid off a corporate scam that’s left hundreds dead and a few people very rich, the only vessel around to save her is the Bonnie Belle.

Sean Harrison has worked as one of the Belle’s courtesans for years, bringing happiness to countless women along the space lanes. When he’s asked to look after Catherine while the Belle brings her to safety, it should be just another job. Somehow it’s anything but.

Sean is captivated by Catherine’s sense of justice and responsibility. And Catherine finds a softer, more emotionally intelligent man in Sean than she expected. Drawn together in darkness under the threat of death, they find the beginning of something lasting. But with pirates after the Belle and a price on Catherine’s head, that beginning might be all they get.

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I was completely hooked by IN THE BLACK, the first book in Sheryl Nantus’ Tales from the Edge, so I was over the moon (yes, space pun intended) when I found out that the next story in the series was coming out so soon.

IN THE VOID takes up back to the Belle, but now we’re focused on Sean, one of the most endearing characters from IN THE BLACK. He and the rest of the crew get tangled up in some big-stakes industrial crime when they rescue Catherine, the only survivor of a shipwreck that looks extremely deliberate. Luckily for Catherine, the Belle is in the area and pick her up. Not so luckily, she’s forced to deal with her prejudices against courtesans (which are not at all baseless) and the crew of the Belle is also forced into a confrontation but it’s one with life-or-death consequences since they know that whoever was after Catherine will be sure to make more attempts.

The plot kind of reminded me of a western standoff because you have the Belle fighting against an unknown but definitely stronger enemy (she has no weapons), fighting because it’s right and the crew has no other choice.  It felt like a showdown but also a race against the clock as they try to make it to a safe haven so that Catherine can testify before her enemies can take her, and the ship, down. There’s a real sense of urgency to IN THE VOID and it gave the book a great sense of pacing.

Have no fear, though, because the blossoming romance between Sean and Catherine does get its due. Nantus once again delivers some steamy chemistry and strong personalities and it was great to see Sean and Catherine fall for each other. I found Sean’s side of the story particularly touching because we learn how he ended up on a mercy ship. I won’t tell you how (spoilers!) but I will say that it’s a tragic backstory and you can see how it’s shaped him into the person he is in the series. As I said before, Catherine also has a personal journey but it’s not as deep as Sean’s, in my opinion. Catherine had to re-evaluate her perceptions of mercy ships and their crews but this didn’t touch me as much as Sean’s.

I truly hope we’ll get another Tale from the Edge soon because this is one series I can’t get enough of!

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

In the Black by Sheryl Nantus

In the Black by Sheryl NantusReleased: May 12, 2014
Format: eARC
Publisher: Carina

Series: Tales from the Edge #1

Source: NetGalley

Excerpt: No

Book one of Tales from the Edge

When Sam Keller left the military, she ran to the far end of the galaxy. Now she captains the Bonnie Belle, a spaceship full of courtesans who bring a little pleasure to hard-up men on mining colonies. When one of her girls turns up dead, it’s Sam’s job to find out who killed her, fast.

Marshal Daniel LeClair is as tough as steel and quick on the draw. But when his vacation gets replaced by an assignment to help find the killer, he can’t help angling for a little action with the saucy, hard-charging Sam. She’s got brains, attitude and a body he wouldn’t mind investigating.

Sam, six months lonely, might just indulge him. But the Guild that owns the Belle wants the case closed yesterday. With pressure coming from all quadrants, Sam and her marshal clash over false leads and who’s on top. But when the killer threatens the Belle again, romance will have to wait. It’s a captain’s job to save her crew, no matter the cost.

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I really like Sheryl Nantus. I think she’s a very talented author (though I have been quite slack about getting reviews up, which I am trying to fix). In IN THE BLACK, she moves away from urban fantasy and superheroes to give us space opera goodness. There’s sex, there’s mystery, and there’s cool technology. What more could you want?

There’s lots of good stuff in this book  but I’m quite busy at work so here are the highlights:

Nantus has created a very cool world for IN THE BLACK. It reminded me a bit of Firefly. Prostitution is legal and our heroine Sam Keller is the captain of a courtesan ship. These courtesans aren’t just there for sex: they provide all sorts of services to their clients, from different flavours of sexual intercourse to financial advise to medical care. The Belle flies from mining colony to mining colony and it should be an easy job for Sam, who’s recently out of the military, but one of the courtesans ends up murdered. It’s not only bad for the courtesan but it’s also bad for business, which means that the Guild wants it cleaned up as quickly as possible. Unfortunately for the Guild, Sam and Marshal Daniel LeClair are determined to find the culprit, not sweep the problem under the proverbial rug. And this is just one of the reasons that Sam and Daniel make a good pair.

Another reason IN THE BLACK really works is the fact that Sam and Daniel have insane chemistry. It’s absolutely off the charts. They smoulder from the instant they meet and it makes their romance really fun. But they also work really well as individual characters. Both Sam and Daniel are strong, well developed characters and I liked them as soon as they came onto the page. Sam has a particularly memorable first scene, thanks to her occupation. 🙂

If you’re looking for a sexy space story, IN THE BLACK is definitely for you. Sheryl Nantus has created a truly gripping mystery with some very sexy moments. I think you’ll really enjoy it!

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach

Fortune's Pawn by Rachel Bach (Paradox #1)Released: November 5, 2013
Format: e-book
Publisher: Orbit

Series: Paradox #1

Source: Purchased

Excerpt: Yes

Devi Morris isn’t your average mercenary. She has plans. Big ones. And a ton of ambition. It’s a combination that’s going to get her killed one day – but not just yet.

That is, until she just gets a job on a tiny trade ship with a nasty reputation for surprises. The Glorious Fool isn’t misnamed: it likes to get into trouble, so much so that one year of security work under its captain is equal to five years everywhere else. With odds like that, Devi knows she’s found the perfect way to get the jump on the next part of her Plan. But the Fool doesn’t give up its secrets without a fight, and one year on this ship might be more than even Devi can handle.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

This book is amazing. There aren’t enough positive words to describe FORTUNE”S PAWN. Whether you’re a die-hard sci-fi buff or someone new to the genre, you will definitely enjoy Bach’s accessible and well-written novel. It’s the start of what’s sure to be a great series. Don’t believe me? Ask Felicia Day.

Seriously, that’s how I feel about FORTUNE’S PAWN. But I will try to be a bit more articulate so that I can give you a better sense of what makes this such a great book:

1. Devi is a fantastic protagonist. She’s everything you could want in a heroine: tough, driven, smart. She’s extremely single-minded about her goal to become a Devastator and it leads her to the Glorious Fool and its strange crew. I love her commitment to her goals and her insatiable curiosity.

2. An amazing world. The further you get into FORTUNE’S PAWN, the more elaborate and interesting the world gets. I can’t say too much but there are all sorts of beings that inhabit the galaxy and each species is more intriguing than the next.

3. Crisp writing. Bach is a seasoned writer and it shows. She’s got such a way with words and you’re immediately sucked into the narrative.

4. A teensy bit of romance (or romantic potential). The main focus of the story is Devi and her journey but there is some major sexual tension between her and Rupert. Of course, it’s complicated, and not just because shipboard romance is forbidden. I love a good sci-fi romance but the romance in FORTUNE’S PAWN is just one small element of the overall story.

5. Lady Gray. Devi’s crazy armour suit is a thing of beauty, as are her weapons, and I loved discovering what the suit can do.

6. That ending! There’s a definite end to FORTUNE’S PAWN — no stinky cliffhangers here — but Bach really shows that this is just the first step in Devi’s journey. I was left wanting much, much more.

Fighting Kat by PJ Schnyder

Fighting Kat by PJ Schnyder (The Triton Experiment #2)An extra post for me over on Tynga’s Reviews because we’re part of the blog tour. Check out my thoughts on FIGHTING KAT, the second story in PJ Schnyder’s Triton Experiment series. It’s some awesome sci fi adventuring.

Taste of Passion by Renae Jones

Taste of Passion by Renae JonesReleased: October 21, 2013
Format: e-book
Pubisher: Carina Press

Source: NetGalley

Series: n/a

Excerpt: Yes

Fedni, an empath who can taste emotion, was once a highly desirable courtesan. But the conquering New Earth Federation has abolished her temple, forcing her into early retirement and making her struggle to find her place in a transformed world.

Lonely and bored, she visits her ruggedly handsome new neighbor, an off-worlder doctor named Rasmus whose strange ways and delicious body arouse more than her curiosity. Hot, hard lust flares between them, and a series of steamy encounters reveals to Fedni a generous lover.

But incredible sex can’t keep their cultural differences at bay. Rasmus is disgusted by the temple system, and Fedni leaps to defend her way of life and to show him the beauty of her traditions. As their heated arguments make them each question their long-held beliefs, Fedni must reconcile her newfound knowledge and her pride in her past, or risk losing the man who stokes her passion to new heights.

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Quick post for a short novella:

2013 is the year I’ve gotten really interested in sci fi romance and TASTE OF PASSION is an erotic novel set on a different planet, one that has been conquered by the New Earth Federation. As a result, humans have moved in to help the local population adjust to their new ways. Fedni, one of the locals, has had her life turned completely upside down. She used to work in a Temple of Passion, basically a courtesan, and the laws of the New Earth Federation make her previous profession illegal. She’s forced to retrain and adjust to human standards, which makes her rather grumpy. (As it would.) Despite this, she finds herself quite attracted to Rasmus, her human neighbour, and she decides to act upon her attraction. Fedni is definitely the more aggressive one in this coupling when it comes to initiating things, and she does it with an endearing mixture of confidence, brazenness, and (hidden) self-doubt. The fact that she’s an empath makes things a bit more interesting, since she knows how Rasmus is responding, but still isn’t always 100% sure of herself, as she would be with most other lovers.

On the whole, TASTE OF PASSION is quite enjoyable. It’s definitely a steamy, 18+ read but there’s a nice amount of story to counter all of the smexiness. Jones does a great job of developing both Fedni and Rasmus, so that you can see them as living, breathing people who just happen to get it on a lot.  Jones manages to get a lot of story into the 21,000 words she uses. It felt a bit short to me, but that was mostly because she definitely left me wanting more. Fedni and Rasmus don’t get to their forever HEA but they definitely move from being sex buddies to something with more romantic potential. I appreciate the realism in this sense — they really don’t know each other terribly well though they are well on their way to a strong relationship.

Renae Jones is definitely on my watch list now.

**I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.**

Replicant by Dani Worth

Replicant by Dani Worth (Kitrhan Regenesis #2)My first Novella November post over on Team Tynga’s Reviews is about the second book in Dani Worth’s Kithran Regenesis series, REPLICANT. It’s delicious. See why.

A Spy to Die For by Kris DeLake

A Spy to Die For by Kris DeLake (Assassins Guild #2)Released: July 2, 2013
Format: Mass market paperback
Publisher: Sourcebooks

Series: Assassins Guild #2

Source: Publisher via Netgalley

When Spy Meets Spy

Agent: Skylight
Profile: Seasoned Assassin Guild Super-Sleuth. Talented enough that she can write her own rules.
Budget: Unlimited.

Agent: Jack
Profile: Main investigator for the loosely federated Rover Assassins. Guided by a strict moral code, fierce loyalty, and a sense of duty.

More Than Sparks Will Fly

On opposite sides of a high-stakes game, lust lures two spies together in a passionate encounter. Little do they know that the heat of the moment would bind them, turning their worlds upside down. Hunted by deadly assassins, can the pair and their love withstand the onslaught?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

A Spy to Die For was a pretty awesome read.

A quick word of warning: A Spy to Die For takes place concurrently with Assassins in Love, the first book in the Assassins Guild series, and references events in that novel, so you definitely want to read that first. It’s a neat storytelling device — and one I don’t think I’ve encountered before — and it helps provide some more context for the events that take place in both novels. And it’s really neat to see more than just one approach to handling the problem in question.

I think I actually enjoyed A Spy to Die For a tiny bit more than Assassins in Love because I really fell for the characters. Sky’s was an unexpected sort of character — not hard enough to be an assassin but beholden to the Guild, she works as something of an intelligence gatherer,checking out targets to make sure that they are indeed appropriate targets for the Guild. It’s a solitary lifestyle, which has contributed to Sky’s lack of trust, but not as much as her parents, who kept leaving her behind when she was a kid. Jack is also an experienced intelligence gatherer, though not for the Guild. They initially start off as a one-night stand but realize that they have a strong connection. (Sky is a bit more reluctant to admit it than Jack, which contributes to the fun of reading A Spy to Die For.)

There’s also a nice bit of action since there are folks trying to kill them. You can expect some stealthy action, some overt action, and an explosion or two, which should please all of the readers who appreciate a good battle or fight scenes.

All in all, A Spy to Die For is  a great read. I’d definitely recommend it. But I think you’d enjoy it more if you read Assassins in Love first since it’ll give you a better grounding in the world. DeLake’s Assassins Guild series is a great sci fi romance series and I think you should be putting it on your TBR list if you haven’t already!

netgalley knockoutCheck mark for the Netgalley Knockout!

Catching up

I’ve been ultra lazy about linking to my posts over on Team Tynga’s Reviews so here’s what I’ve been writing about for the past month or so over there:

Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep (Mythos Academy #4.5) Deep Dark Secret by Sierra Dean (Secret McQueen #3) The Darwin Elevator by Jason M. Hough (Dire Earth Cycle #1) Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin Arrow of the Mist by Christina Mercer Flirting Under a Full Moon by Ashlyn Chase (Flirting with Fangs #1)

Kithra by Dani Worth

Kithra by Dani Worth (Kithran Regenesis #1)Released: November 8, 2011
Format: e-book
Publisher: Samhain

Series: Kithran Regenesis #1

Source: Personal shelf

A frustrated spaceship captain, her trusty second-in- command, and a handsome alien prove that three is definitely not a crowd.

Spaceship captain Lux Moyans is currently piloting missions for The Company. When her second-in-command, Kol Frega, informs her they’ve been ordered to Kithra, she’s furious. A year on an uninhabitable planet? She’ll only be flying supply missions! But her ship—Kol’s design—is the only one that can withstand the planet’s gases…and Lux is one of the few pilots with the skill to navigate the debris fields resulting from the explosions that killed most of the planet’s Gwinarian race.

Kol is the engineer who learned to manipulate the indestructible metal on Kithra, and he and a surviving Gwinarian will be her only company on planet. When they pick up Egan Lothbrun, Lux knows there will be trouble. She’s already attracted to Kol and she doesn’t need another man to arouse her either mentally or physically. Lux doesn’t want or need the complications that emotions bring. Yet, when she learns Kol and Egan share a painful past, she realizes getting Kithra livable won’t be her only challenge.

Keeping her heart intact might be harder.

Warning: A cranky pilot, a sexy second-in-command and an irresistible alien join…forces in more ways than one. And yes, there are close encounters of the sexy kind.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Kithra is a little different from the usual stuff I read. It’s sci fi romance, my new favourite subgenre, but it’s also erotic romance, which is not what I usually go for. I’m all about story and not so much about reading the sexy times, but I really enjoyed Kithra. There’s a lot of sex, for sure, but the characters and world are well developed and it’s not a novella that exists purely to go from sex to sex to menage-with-an-alien scene. There’s actually a lot of cool story in Kithra, so I think this novella will appeal to people who don’t usually read erotic romance (like me!).

Lux Moyans is a spaceship pilot. She lives to fly. She’s not one for relationships but she is attracted to her crewmate, Kol Frega. She’s never acted on the attraction because she was his superior officer but that all changes when they’re given the bum assignment of going to Kithra to help get the now-uninhabitable planet back on its proverbial feet. Their only company for the year-long assignment? A Gwinarian, a native of Kithra, with a previous relationship with Kol. Gwinarians are known for their free-loving ways, often having multiple partners and not exhibiting any gender preferences, which leads the three main characters into a polyamorous relationship. I’ve never read a book with a relationship like this so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the story was emotionally driven, not all about the sex. You can understand why all three of them are attracted to each other because their personalities are quite compatible.

I was also very interested in the setting. Even in a novella-length story, Dani Worth managed to get a lot of worldbuilding in. There’s space travel, alien species, and interesting technologies. Of course, the length of Kithra does limit the amount of worldbuilding the author can put in but I felt like it was very well-developed and thorough. There are two other novellas in the series so far and I hope that they will continue to build on the platform that has been established.

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