I read this book over a couple of days last week, also via NetGalley, and wow. It packs punch! I don’t typically read a lot of romance books, but when I read that this was science fiction romance, I had to give it a go.
Blurb: Earth is dying. Nick Venture, the last living descendant of Christopher Columbus, embarks on a dangerous mission to find a new planet and save humanity. This places him on a collision course with Raquel Donovan, the deadliest space pirate in the galaxy.
Raquel lives for one purpose: revenge against a horrible demon from her past. When an attempt to hijack Nick’s starship backfires, Raquel becomes his protector in order to avoid capture by the tyrannical Space Defense Corps. Nick and Raquel are irresistibly drawn to one another despite the forbidden nature of their attraction. But the conflicted pirate’s deepest secret could tear the couple apart even as humanity’s time runs out…
We start the book from Raquel’s point of view, and she is portrayed as a rather scary character. I had to wonder whether I’d be able to identify with her, but it took very little time to learn that there are very good reasons for her actions. We don’t find out those reasons in depth until late in the book, but they are there, and gratifying once detailed to the reader.
Nick on the other hand seemed a fairly likable character from the start. He works hard, and while he hasn’t really striven for success in life, we gather than pretty much, with the current state of affairs (you know, the whole world dying, everyone trying to survive below the surface thing) you get what you can and you’re happy to have anything at all.
Nick gets fired though, and things go from bad to worse very quickly when he gets into a brawl and ends up in jail. Then comes the offer he simply can’t refuse – to captain a mission to a new planet – despite his complete lack of skills for the job. I did have a little bit of difficulty suspending my disbelief here because it seems he is chosen for this role simply because he is the last known descendant of Christopher Columbus. I kind of feel like because the mission is such a big deal, those who are backing it would want to put someone with more skills into the role of Captain, but oh well.
To his credit, Nick knows he isn’t cut out for the job and feels incredibly out of his depth. This is a good thing, and let me buy back into the storyline. He feels like he is a figurehead more than anything else, though strangely, the crew do look up to him and seem to expect *something* more from him.
The contrast between the two main characters is great – when they meet there is obvious chemistry despite their differences. Nick plays the hero, and Raquel the villain, but by the end of their first few exchanges they are tied together on this mission, you can really see that they are going to have clashes, both mentally and physically and it makes you want to read on.
It is very much a romance novel, as well as a science fiction, the two sides being fairly well balanced. The explicit details of the fantasies each of the characters have, as well as the eventual sex, makes it feel closer to erotica than romance for me. Very well written erotica, but more detailed than I had expected to find – that said, the author does say that it’s a *hot* read and she isn’t wrong!
The plot is fast paced, and engaging, and for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed it. The mission to find a new planet in order to save human-kind is an important one, and the subplots involving pirates and crooked elite military forces were really enjoyable as well. I love reading stories where the underdogs are trying their hardest to succeed against huge odds and strong foes. The secondary characters are for the most part excellent as well, with their own storylines playing out in the background. I ran the gamut of emotions while reading this book, including sadness – I actually shed tears after reading one scene, and I’m sure you’ll know which if you decide to give it a read!
If I have any criticism of the book it would also be towards the end. I don’t want to include spoilers, but I got frustrated with some of Nick’s choices, and his self absorption on his troubles when there were bigger things at stake. Thankfully, he corrects those and ends on a good note.
All over, a very good book. The ending was wrapped up a little too fast for my tastes, but otherwise it was fairly evenly paced. I would happily recommend this book to anyone who likes some romance with their science fiction. I think there is enough of both to keep any reader satisfied.