Due to come out March 02, 2015 through Carina Press, this science fiction, space opera takes a hard look at what happens to some soldiers after a war ends and the government is no longer taking responsibility for their mental and emotional recovery and their social reintegration. From childhood friends to best friends at a military academy, Felix and Zander had cemented their friendship with a whirl-wind five-day affair before the war erupting across the galaxy split them up. Zander, from a wealthy family that owns space stations and colonies under attack, is fast-tracked for leadership and combat. Felix is utilized as a mechanic/engineer. Until he’s captured by the war-mongering Stin.
Zander is incorrectly informed that Felix has been killed in action. Emotionally despondent, he volunteers for first Covert Ops and then experimental Black Ops with fellow Academy alum, Emma. They fall off the grid from everyone, and through alien hybridization are turned into living weapons.
This first novel in the series, opens six months after the war’s ending has been brokered by a god-like alien species, the Guardians. Weapons are to be decommissioned, this includes the Top Secret Black Ops experiments. The government takes no responsibility for the small team that are experiencing headaches, seizures, periods of amnesia. They are going insane. Zander, not sure what to do with himself without a mission, goes in search of Emma who’s gone off the rails and murdered a space station security team on a distant family-owned outpost. He hires a ship, Chaos, and its crew to fulfill his new mission only to recognize former-POW Felix, now badly scarred and tortured, working as the ship’s mechanic. The story follows the two broken men on their mission to save their mutual friend Emma, and to re-unite with their own sense of humanity.
The protagonists are worthy of empathy and understanding. The secondary characters that round out the crew of Chaos are nicely developed eventually, though the alien-pilot, Qek of the Ashushk, is left a little two-dimensional in this series-opener. The second in this series is rumored to become available mid-Summer 2015. The book does not end on a cliffhanger, thankfully, but I will follow this series as there are more stories to tell and more healing to happen in this world. [This book hints that the Guardians and the Stin might be brokering new deals.]
I received a Kindle-copy of this novel through NetGalley from Carina Press, a subsidiary of Harlequin. Their science fiction and fantasy divisions do not require a romantic aspect to the stories. However, this one does, and rightly so considering the history of the main characters. That said, I was not prepared for the intensely graphic nature of the sex scenes, which will limit its readership. This book must be labeled as erotica as much as it is sci-fi or fantasy due to content. The story did not flow smoothly between the two themes, either. It felt like erotic fan fiction thrust upon another story.
[Check out my other reviews here.]