Tuesday, February 4, 2014

e-Book Review: Escape from Zulaire

Andi Markriss hasn’t exactly enjoyed being the houseguest of the planetary high-lord, but her company sent her to represent them at a political wedding. When hotshot Sectors Special Forces Captain Tom Deverane barges in on the night of the biggest social event of the summer, Andi isn’t about to offend her high-ranking host on Deverane’s say-so—no matter how sexy he is, or how much he believes they need to leave now.

Deverane was thinking about how to spend his retirement bonus when HQ assigned him one last mission: rescue a civilian woman stranded on a planet on the verge of civil war. Someone has pulled some serious strings to get her plucked out of the hot zone. Deverane’s never met anyone so hard-headed—or so appealing. Suddenly his mission to protect this one woman has become more than just mere orders.

That mission proves more dangerous than he expected when rebel fighters attack the village and raze it to the ground. Deverane escapes with Andi, and on their hazardous journey through the wilderness, Andi finds herself fighting her uncomfortable attraction to the gallant and courageous captain. But Deverane’s not the type to settle down, and running for one’s life doesn’t leave much time to explore a romance.

Then Andi is captured by the rebel fighters, but Deverane has discovered that Zulaire’s so-called civil war is part of a terrifying alien race’s attempt to subjugate the entire Sector. If he pushes on to the capitol Andi will die. Deverane must decide whether to save the woman he loves, or sacrifice her to save Zulaire.

I mostly enjoyed this story.  In a lot of ways this reminded me of Jayne Castle's earlier "Harmony" books; romance was present and the attraction the characters felt for each other shaped a lot of their interaction, but it wasn't the defining characteristic of the story.  I think if they two hadn't become romantically linked they would have gone the extra mile for each other because that is who they are.

And to be honest I sometimes felt the romance was a bit forced.  The timeframe isn't terribly long for this story and they spend the better part of that time tramping through the jungle with Tom's men, fighting off native warriors, unlocking the mystery of what was going on, Tom was practically comatose for a good chunk of time and at one point or other the two are separated.  The few moments of quiet they do have together don't feel as deep a connection as they should have warranted.

Also, and maybe this was just me, but Tom's crew is sent to retrieve Andi (and only Andi).  He doesn't know why, Andi isn't certain why and together the pair of them can't come to the obvious conclusion that is explicitly stated about halfway through.  I honestly kept thinking "It can't be that simple an excuse right?  There is something more special at work?".  Nope. It really is that simple.

Scott tosses a lot of information at us in regards to the world, the political climate, the outside influences, the religion, the social structure, the business holdings, the outside military based on the planet, the economics, the history of the people, mystical woo-woo that saves lives, Andi's specialness...seriously.  Its a lot of information for one book.  I'm normally all for it, but there's no time in between anything to really absorb any of it.

I found myself confused, more than once, who exactly they were all running from and why the Head Honcho the rebels (I guess?) all claim to respect can't stop what's happening.  And when the motivation is laid out, its a bit of a handwave that's kind of telegraphed, but not very well throughout the story.

I enjoyed the story for Andi and for Tom, and their misfit band of traveling companions.  Despite my confusion I wanted to follow through to the end to find out what the big mystery was.  And hey I'm always in favor of women who at least TRY to be proactive in their rescue attempt.