by Michelle Diener
ebook, 468 pages
Published June 15th 2015 by Eclipse
I love this story. It's refreshing. Fast-paced. Loaded well-described, vivid sentient beings.
I think part of the sweetness is where the story begins. We could have been dragged through the abduction-torture stuff, but we're plunked right down in the middle of the rescue with all of that nastiness already experienced, analyzed with vengeance pending. The lion, honestly, is a great argument point, revealing a tons of the developing character of Sazo and Rose McKenzie's life view.
We could've asked Rose "How's life?" and received a mopey, heart-broken, homesick, bitter response. She really could've replied that her life totally sucked. Instead I got the feeling through-out the entire book that she'd see the flip-side. Like, "Hey, my partner totally rocks even though he is a little high maintenance," and "Look! a planet I can breath on. Nevermind the deadly creatures. I can go for a walk! On a planet!" and "These aliens are sooooo huge and scary, but hey, they have awesome Legolas ears. Go Tolkien!"
Rose makes the story for me. Well... and the setting. With the other species and the thinking computer.
Bonus: The title is very, very appropriate. :-D
Hang on, looking over what I've written I could give the impression that this story skips through a field of flowers. So... lemme clarify. This is correct if you add terrifying monsters, powerful political maneuvering, unpredictable bad guys (and good guys, for that matter), and a white-knuckled, can't-put-it-down pace.
Did I forget to mention the captain? *ahem* There's also romance and an adult moment that's more fade-to-black than explicit, but still quite adult. There's definite attraction-at-first-sight and Dav and Rose meet early on. What I liked even better is the growth of friendship and attraction, the emotional scenes (Rose has every right to break down after holding it together that long and how kind of Dav to be available to comfort!), the growing distrust, the tough choices and the depth of understanding. They're so smart!! And non-mopey!! *sigh*
So there you go. 5 whopping stars. This is a keeper for the bookshelf to re-read regularly. Fans of Michelle Diener's work might appreciate that I loved this book as much as The Emperor's Conspiracy, which was a year's best pick for me. Even if you're not into sci-fi (what?!) this is a movie-like adventure/romance in the stars.