Saturday, December 20, 2014

eBook Review: At Star's End

Dr. Eos Rai has spent a lifetime dedicated to her mother's dream of finding the long-lost Mona Lisa. When Eos uncovers tantalizing evidence of Star's End--the last known location of the masterpiece--she's shocked when her employer, the Galactic Institute of Historic Preservation, refuses to back her expedition. Left with no choice, Eos must trust the most notorious treasure hunter in the galaxy, a man she finds infuriating, annoying and far too tempting.

Dathan Phoenix can sniff out relics at a stellar mile. With his brothers by his side, he takes the adventures that suit him and refuses to become a lazy, bitter failure like their father. When the gorgeous Eos Rai comes looking to hire him, he knows she's trouble, but he's lured into a hunt that turns into a wild and dangerous adventure. As Eos and Dathan are pushed to their limits, they discover treasure isn't the only thing they're drawn to...but how will their desire survive when Dathan demands the Mona Lisa as his payment?

A long long time ago I read a book about a girl who sought an artifact that would save her family's reputation as antiquity dealers and hopefully their debt. I'll be damned if I can remember the name of the book (and I can't even remember when I read it only know it was before I was logging into Goodreads that's like 20 years or so of reading journals written BY HAND to dig through), but it left me with this simmering sort of want for books about girls exploring and finding romance and being historically inclined.

So basically a female Indiana Jones.  

At Star's End is kind of my karma cookie for waiting for it.  There's action, adventure, tension, romance, space battles, weird cultures, weirder human eccentricities, family politics you shouldn't broach to save your soul, female merc, legends and above all a character named Dr. Eos Rai who is just all kinds of cool.  I wouldn't call this perfect - at one point, to avoid a worse fate, Eos is put into a position that forced her to place all her trust in the Phoenix brothers after a very short amount of time that if they had cut their losses would have left her in a situation of extreme degradation...but after some angry words its more or less hand waved away.  Either Eos had been in WORST situations or it was a plot point of convenience to push a couple of other points along.

Regardless Eos is my kind of gal.  Not once did she back down from the belief that finding the Mona Lisa fragment, and Star's End in general, was what she needed to accomplish.  Pirates, slavers, crazy mercs who the Phoenix brothers were constantly in contention with be damned she WOULD get there and prove her mother's words true.  I got a little tired of the trope "I find him attractive but wait wait don't let it on!!", since Dathan pretty much said "I dig you, you dig me, let's explore this".  Her reasoning was sound - Dathan also said it was going to be a short fling - it didn't feel like a genuine response from her.

Dathan was both attractive and infuriating at the same time.  He spent an awful lot of time comparing everything Eos said or did against an arbitrary set of guidelines born from dislike of "her kind" (Museum people).  He didn't acknowledge the true reason behind his fear of falling for her until literally everyone in the book had told him that's why he was pushing her away.  I mean seriously, Eos forgave him (whether I liked it not) for practically selling her int slavery at one point - how much more reason do you need to know a girl won't run out?

I did like the tidbits of world building Hackett wove in.  Eos' people for instance are born with intricate tattoos - something that had evolved over the generations since leaving Earththat was.  The rest is pretty standard sci fi space romance stuff, though the Phoenix brothers seemed to have some nifty gadgets running around.  Niklas (who Eos had worked with previously for a short time at the Museum, before he either quit, was booted or some combo therein) was a bit of a cipher for me.  He wavered back and forth between charming good boy charms and brooding recluse.  Zayn, who was definitely more my cup of tea, was brash and humorous and sarcastic.

In all this was a fun adventure with just enough romance to not be overwhelming that built had a believable rate given the situation (emotions run high!).  I'm interested to see what happens next for the Phoenix Bros...tho Hackett already laid the groundwork for Niklas' romance I believe.