Tag Archives: romantic sci-fi

Review of The Queen’s Gambit (Rogue Queen #1), by Jessie Mihalik

I borrowed an audio copy of The Queen’s Gambit, by Jessie Mihalik, through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

When the Quint Confederacy and the Kos Empire went to war—again—young Queen Samara wisely kept her Rogue Coalition out of the conflict. But staying neutral in a galactic war doesn’t pay the bills, not when both sides refuse to trade with neutral sectors.

With her people on the brink of starvation, Samara hatches a daring plan to snatch the kidnapped Kos Emperor from the Quint mercenaries holding him. The Kos Empire will pay a fortune for their emperor’s return, enough to feed the Coalition’s citizens while they wait for the return to a begrudging peace.

But when her plan goes sideways, Samara finds herself evading Quint mercenaries with the very man she intends to capture. And the more time she spends with Valentin Kos, the more she realizes that he’s not the coldly indifferent villain she imagined. Torn between duty and desire, Samara must decide if saving her people is worth giving up the one thing she’s always wanted.

Review:

This wasn’t bad, it was just kind of weak. The plot was weak. The romantic development was weak. The world-building was a little less weak, but still not strong. It felt like someone had taken a knit comb to a full length novel and picked out everything that fleshes a story out. What we’re left with instead is an unlikely couple who experience almost insta attraction, a galactic war in which the two largest, most powerful, wealthiest combatants can’t swat a minuscule fly of a woman, political intrigue that can be solved with an email or two, and a happily ever after that is so pat it feels like an afterthought. 

Now, I know none of that sounds positive. The story development really was lacking. But once you get past all the gratuitous-to-the-plot physical descriptions of the male lead (which I wouldn’t have minded if they had been balanced with more actual plot development) the story is entertaining. And when it comes right down to it, I value that over a lot of other elements in a book. 

Now, a word on the narration: I disliked how Dulude read this. I thought she made everyone (but especially Emperor Kos) sound a little too soft and….well weak, which was problematic with an already weak plot. But more that, her speech pattern had regular micro-pauses (I don’t know what else to call them) that interrupted sentences, broke them into pieces. It drove me absolutely batty. To be fair, it might not bother anyone else at all though. 

Review of Wild Blood (Cyborg Shifters #1), by Naomi Lucas

I borrowed an audio copy of Naomi LucusWild Blood through Hoopla.

Description from Goodreads:

Dommik was a monster, a Monster Hunter, and an alpha. Part of an elite group that dealt with the horrors of the universe. At least that was what everyone at the spaceport was whispering as he walked by. A Cyborg, a hunter, a beast with eyes as dark as the pits of Hell and the stride of a predator. 

Katalina was a nobody who was intimate with death. It clung to her like a shroud, It followed her like the plague, and infected her like a parasite. When she overheard that the Monster Hunter needed an assistant, she took the job. And when the Cyborg’s eyes caught hers, she knew getting closer to death might just bring her back to life. 

The Cyborg didn’t scare her. 
So she followed him and left fate up to chance. 

Review:

This was……

This was interesting, as people in my family would politely say to avoid saying anything bad. I listened to the audio version, so I can’t say with certainly that the editing was clean. But I didn’t notice any errors in the mechanical writing, as it was read. But the story was…not for me. 

I appreciated that the cyborg was less human-like than a lot of sci-fi romance cyborgs. He was truly a melding of machine, altered DNA and man (even during sex). And I appreciated that Kat wasn’t a pushover and went after what she wanted. 

But there was very little smooth progression in the romance (there was none). Dommik did some things I would find unforgivable. Most of the sex was subtly written using the language of abuse. The closest thing to an antagonist in the book is the only other significant female in the story (and she’s the sexy femme fatale archetype too, super cliched). And there’s no real plot or world-building beyond giving the characters somewhere to boink, but not so little as to mark this as straight erotica. All in all, I just kind of found this a weak showing in general. Plus, I thought the narration really flat. And sex scenes read with little inflection are awkward beyond belief.

Review of Safe Passage (Black Flag #1), by Rachel Ford

I received an Audible code for a review copy of Safe Passage, by Rachel Ford.

Description from Goodreads:

Go big or go home. For privateer Captain Magdalene Landon, it’s all about going big. For Kay Ellis, it’s about getting home. Together, they’re about to architect the most daring heist in the galaxy. Kay knows too much. She knows it’s a matter of time before a Conglomerate hitman finds her. She’s desperate for safe passage back to Union space. Then Magdalene shows up, promising a way home in exchange for that information. It’s a risky bet, but Kay is out of options. So she strikes a deal: the heist of the century for her freedom.Kay is playing a dangerous game, and she knows it. She’s made herself Enemy Number One of the Conglomerate. She’s relying on privateers for her safety. It’s a fool’s game. But the worst part is, her fool’s heart is starting to warm to the enigmatic captain. And that’s a risk for which she hadn’t planned.

Review:

I can’t say I enjoyed this book much. I didn’t find much that grabbed me. I felt the world wasn’t well developed, the romance was abrupt, the casual use of attempted heterosexual rape as motivation unoriginal (especially in a lesbian romance), and the characters were too Mary Sue like. Here’s an example, they kept people alive when they shouldn’t have. It felt like an artificial mechanism to move the plot along AND that the just author didn’t want them to seem like bad guys, especially considering those same characters end up dead anyway. It seemed inconsistent this insistence on ‘doing the right thing’ when they are basically thieves (and have already killed others).

This tendency to use obvious and inelegant artificial events for plot progression was also present in the romance. The characters got together, then one broke it off for sudden and stupid reasons. Then later apologized so they could get back together just as abruptly. You see it all coming a mile away.

Similarly, all the twists are as obvious as the sun. You know from very early on what is going to happen and when. 

The writing itself is fine, minus a tendency for characters to call Kay by name too often. And the narration too…for the most part. I actually greatly disliked how Rich voiced the characters. But that’s a matter of taste not quality. 

All in all, I think this was just a poorly matched book for me. I went in with high hopes. I love sci-fi romance, but this one wasn’t a winner for me.