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REVIEW: Space Slugs by Frances Pauli

Dear Ms. Pauli,

I don’t try and hide the fact that when I read (yet another) romance book title that features the word “scandal” or “shocking” or “Duke” or “Mistress,” the chances of me reading it drop a notch. I’m so damn sick of these interchangeable titles I could scream. For that reason alone, when you offered us your book, “Space Slugs” to review, I decided if the excerpt was halfway decent I’d give it a try. It was and I did but unfortunately, many things about the book left me wanting.

Space Slugs	Frances PauliDr. Murray Livingston is answering yet another distress message from her wayward, space hopping sister Zora who’s gone and gotten engaged again. After a trip to try her patience, Murray arrives to find herself being thrown in a jail cell with Zora to await the wedding. Free spirited Zora is apparently having second thoughts about the groom and counted on Murray to bail her out of another self inflicted mess. Murray throws her hands up in disgust then notices that the ashtray Zora is using is actually a skull – well an android skull. After Murray puts the parts back together, Rook proceeds to break them out and lead them towards freedom. Only Zora insists on snagging at least one present on the way out which turns out to be a pink space slug named Neela.

With the rapidly growing Neela on board with them, the three blast off the planet only to crash land on yet another one which leads them to all kinds of adventures on that planet and two more. Will Zora keep from getting them into more trouble? Will Murray and Rook sort out their feelings? And will Neela find slug love?

I read the beginning of the book as a sort of tongue-in-cheek, humorous adventure. Murray and Zora trade zingers, the slug is cute and I was curious about Rook. But as I kept reading, I started getting annoyed.

The entire book is told from Murray’s point of view and after a while, Murray got on my nerves. I don’t mind a flawed heroine but Murray is judgmental and quick to jump to conclusions until the very end. She can also be a real bitch at times yet totally clueless at others. I got the point that she’s had to put up with Zora’s wild hijinks for years and is tired of them but still I wanted to smack Murray several times. And the romance going on between Murray and Rook…well, without his POV I just didn’t see what they saw in each other besides the fact that you told me they saw something in each other.

Okay so the romance didn’t work well for me which leaves the SF stuff. Which also didn’t work well for me. The book is named after a gastropod who ends up growing to gargantuan size but there’s actually very little slug facetime. And most of her appearances, and those of the male who shows up later, are described in terms of the amount of slug slime present in them. This got old. There’s also very little information about the slugs. I understand that they’re rare, the last of their kind but never found out why. Or why she bonded with Zora. Or how she grows so quickly. Or why Neela wasn’t initially enamored with her new boyfriend. Or why on she later was. Why, why, why?

For that matter, the entire world building here is sketchy at best. I hate info dumps but a little – no, make that a lot – more information would have been very helpful. Instead I got just enough to confuse me and not much else before the plot spun off in yet another new direction. It seemed to jump from event to event and then just as quickly abandon those for something else.

When I finished the story I was left with a ton of questions but no answers. Why was Rook on the first planet and disassembled? Who is the Emperor and what’s the deal with the clones? Why is android love sneered at? What happened to the zoo and the animals? What about all the slug questions mentioned above? Who’s the father of Zora’s baby? And I’m almost totally in the dark about Rook’s planet. Given how many questions I ended up with, the fact that the romance is skimmed over, and the SF is patchy, I really can’t recommend the for any reason. D

~Jayne

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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

24 Comments

  1. Janine
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 11:43:38

    More power to you for finishing this book! The jump-to-conclusions heroine would get on my nerves as well and the rest of it doesn’t sound good either.

    Interesting that the title attracted you. I would like more variety in titles also but this one doesn’t have even a whiff of romance.

  2. vita
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 11:47:44

    Okay, about that cover. Is it repellent…or kinda fascinating and cute? For some reason, it makes me think of the Muppets. “Slugs in Spaaaace”, anyone?

    It’s a shame that all this potential wasn’t pulled together effectively, because there are definitely some interesting elements here, android lovin’, a sexy gallivatin’ girl and her uptight sister,crash landing on weird alien worlds, and the aforementioned (pink?) “Slugs in Spacccce”. Yeah, that could have been fun…and funny…or just a plain intriguing adventure story with a dollop of sexy sci-fi romance.

    Oh! It just struck me that it sounds like there is possibly a sequel in the offing? Like, who’s the baby daddy? Plus, all those unresolved questions. Would you read a second story for some answers? Me, I am totally intrigued with Rook and his origins. I can’t really explain why your description of that plotline appeals to me: that he was there, re-assembled, and is attracted to his “creator” (the woman who put him back together!)

  3. Janine
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 11:53:19

    @vita: I wonder if Linnea Sinclair’s Games of Command would appeal to you? The hero is a cyborg and I liked it a lot.

  4. Lorenda
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 12:01:56

    I agree with Janine – Linnea Sinclair is a good choice for SciFi romance. I wasn’t a fan of her Down Home Zombie Blues, but all the rest were good, especially Gabriel’s Ghost. I liked Games of Command too, but Gabriel’s Ghost or Hope’s Folly are probably my favorites.

  5. vita
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 12:14:42

    Janine, yeah, I’m a big fan of the talented Linnea Sinclair! But I haven’t gotten around to reading all of her wonderful works yet,since I’m trying to get them read in order. I’ve hopped around some. I have read An Accidental Goddess and Finders Keepers and a couple of others. To refresh my memory on where/how I got derailed on her series, I just dug out Games of Command and the Down Home Zombie Blues from my huge, huge TBR mountain. I think I paused in continuing because I’m not sure in all this mess of books if I have Gabriel’s Ghost. I don’t think that I do, and I want to read them in order.

    But thank you for bringing her name up as a recommendation. She’s fabulous. Unfortunately, I think I fairly recently read somewhere that she’s been dropped from her publisher?

  6. Jill Sorenson
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 12:26:57

    Aw, the cover is cute. I’m interested in a cyborg hero! Think I’ll try Games of Command.

  7. \R9-
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 14:55:02

    “No!!!!” She pounds the Duke’s rare wood inlaid floor and her ravishing dress falls from her ravishing shoulder, making the Duke want to ravish her. She holds her arms high. “But I love slugs! Look. The cover is so damn cute!”

    Yeah. I do. I love slugs. I admit romance reading takes up a careful and certain corner of my reading because I have little patience for–well. Ravishing.

    But I love slugs. When I lived in CA, I made a point to see the banana slugs in Santa Cruz. I pick up slugs and play. I even have a children’s book in my to-finish bin that features a pet slug, Mugs.

    So I got all excited when I saw this book. Now I feel it is an insult to the slug community.

  8. DS
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 15:36:23

    It looks like Space Slugs is an ongoing free serial on the author’s web site. Book 2 is available at http://spaceslugserial.blogspot.com/

    I was looking at the author’s other books but they sound like rather cliched romances with the words “in space” tacked on. Great artist who was injured in the war (injured painting hand- doesn’t sound like medicine has advanced much) meets female admirer who is about to marry someone else “in space.”

    That’s the sort of thing that has always made me wary of sf romance because I do love sf and especially good space opera..

  9. L.K. Rigel
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 17:11:38

    edit edit edit.

    sheesh.

  10. Jayne
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 17:59:45

    @Janine: After a while, it became A Quest to keep going and see what new development would be tossed into the story next – and if it would be explored or just left hanging.

    About the title: it’s different and you know how different attracts me. If it had been “Slug Scandal” or “Hot Smexy Slugs” or “A Slug’s Guide to Getting Your Slug Duke” I wouldn’t have even looked at it.

  11. Jayne
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 18:04:23

    @vita: Woot! Love the idea of “Slugs in Spaaace.” Neela actually ends up a LOT larger than on the cover. Like 40 feet of glistening pink slug. Her boy toy was – trying to remember – 10 feet? But he’s yellow. And yes, there is slug sex going on here though Murray does an “oh, my eyes” about face after walking in on them.

    I’m not sure if I’d read any sequels or not. I do want to know what happens but at the same time, I don’t want a repeat of how frustrated I got. Know what I mean?

  12. Jayne
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 18:06:46

    @Janine: @Lorenda: Actually, I think I read “Down Home Zombie Blues.” Or I remember the title. Anyway, I’ve always meant to try “Games of Command” – didn’t you review that Janine? – but just haven’t done it yet.

  13. Jayne
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 18:08:32

    @vita: Oh, are her books in a series? Anyone care to jump in and tell me the title sequence. I’m anal about reading in order if possible.

  14. Jayne
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 18:12:49

    @R9-: Sorry you got your hopes up about the book but considering the title, Neela doesn’t show up nearly as much as Murray, Rook and Zora. I was very disappointed in that.

  15. Janine
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 19:51:25

    @Jayne:

    About the title: it’s different and you know how different attracts me. If it had been “Slug Scandal” or “Hot Smexy Slugs” or “A Slug’s Guide to Getting Your Slug Duke” I wouldn’t have even looked at it.

    ROTFL! See, I would read “A Slug’s Guide to Getting Your Duke” in a heartbeat, if only for the love scenes. ;-)

  16. Janine
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 19:54:37

    @Jayne:

    Anyway, I’ve always meant to try “Games of Command” – didn’t you review that Janine? – but just haven’t done it yet.

    Yes, I reviewed it and liked it a lot. There’s a link to my review in my comment to vita (#3). I have heard that Gabriel’s Ghost is also excellent, but I haven’t read it yet.

  17. Janine
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 19:55:44

    @vita: I hadn’t heard that. What a shame if true! If so I hope she lands on her feet somewhere else.

  18. Janine
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 19:56:19

    @Jill Sorenson: I hope you like it!

  19. Melodie
    Sep 03, 2011 @ 20:30:43

    Loved “Games of Command,” or rather it’s initial incarnation “Command Performance.” I’ve loved everything of Linnea Sinclair’s except the universally adored and recommended “Gabriel’s Ghost.” For me the hero crossed from tormented bad boy into stalkerish ass. Does the rest of the series improve? I love her stuff so much I keep looking at the next book, but really, I was rooting for her ex to shoot the hero.

  20. vita
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 12:16:45

    @Jayne. Well, I’m not sure how tight a “series” her books are, because I read an Accidental Ghost then jumped (bungled) to a few later stories and they do standalone. Only there are small threads that let you know there are previous stories/couples that come before. The main tie-in is that there is a long-term, on-going Galactic War.

    So, I wanted to get them in sequence and never have gotten Gabriel’s Ghost, which comes (I think?)before Games of Command and Down Home Zombie Blues.

    On the front cover of Shades of Dark, the books are listed in this order:

    Finders Keepers
    Gabriel’s Ghost
    An Accidental Goddess
    Games of Command
    Down Home Zombie Blues
    And…Shades of Dark

    Because of ALL the universal praise for An Accidental Goddess, I read it, liked it, and next picked up a copy of Finders Keepers (and somewhere along the way I also read Hope’s Folly, which I remember really enjoying as well).

    So, I kinda got sidetracked because, I too, absolutely have to read a series in order…only I accidentally didn’t in this case.

    I can’t even really vouch for how complete the list from above is, because where is Hope’s Folly? I know that I’ve read it, but how late does it come in the series?

  21. Melodie
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 16:34:13

    The Dock 5 series runs:
    Gabriel’s Ghost
    Shades of Dark
    Hope’s Folly
    Rebels and Lovers

    Stand alones:
    Finders Keepers
    Games of Command
    Down Home Zombie Blues

    An Accidental Goddess is a stand alone but it is set in the same universe as the out of print Wintertide.

  22. cleo
    Sep 04, 2011 @ 18:53:17

    Another book with an android lover is He She and It by Marge Piercy. It’s more SF than romance – there’s a love story but no hea. It’s kind of a feminist, Jewish, environmentalist take on cyberpunk – I’m not sure that it completely works, but I love it anyways.

  23. What Jayne is reading/watching at the end of August - Dear Author
    Sep 09, 2011 @ 12:23:19

    [...] REVIEW: Space Slugs by Frances Pauli [...]

  24. What Jayne is reading/watching at the end of August
    Mar 18, 2012 @ 10:26:40

    [...] Space Slugs by Frances Pauli – What starts well doesn’t necessarily end well. There are tons of plot threads that are tossed in then left and the world building needs help. See posted review. [...]

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