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REVIEW: Beyond the Rain by Jess Granger

Dear Ms. Granger:

I didn’t have Beyond the Rain as a recommended read this month just becauseit was a science fiction romance but it did play a part.   There are few of these types of books published within the genre.   You did a great job of creating not just one different culture but two and allowing those two cultures to provide the conflict for the romance.

Captain Cyani is on her final mission for the Union. She is to rescue the Union soldiers and when she returns to her planet, Azra, she can resign and live a life of isolated meditation. Yet even as Cyani longs for peace, she is conflicted about being alone.   The portrayal of Cyani as a loner was a bit odd given that she had been part of an elite military team and had devoted troops under her.   “She’d done her best to keep them safe in the five years they’d fought together.”   Did she not consider her comrades as friends, brothers and sisters in arms?

As Captain Cyani gathers up the soldiers, one other unknown prisoner is found in the compound by her pet and scout, a fox named Vicca.   Cyani can’t leave until she gets Vicca because Vicca’s collar holds sensitive information.   Upon entering the far part of the compound, Cyani finds a naked man chained to the wall, obviously the subject of great torture.   She finds that she cannot leave him there to suffer further torture at the hands of the Garulen.   According to her com, the life form is a Byralen.   The com has sketchy information for her.   Byralen have dark stripes on their shoulders and arms and have hair streaked with different shades.   Contact is to be avoided if possible because prolonged contact with a Byralen can lead to “altered states of consciousness.”

Soren was captured years ago, so long that he cannot remember, and held prisoner of the Garulen.   He has been drugged with stimulants, almost constantly, so that a hormone that his body produces can be harvested. The hormone is the basis of a drug the Garulen manufacture, a highly addictive drug.   The Byralen produce this hormone when in physical contact with their spouse or mate. It makes them fertile and is part of their natural reproduction methods.   Because Soren has been drugged and unnaturally producing the hormone, without the drug, Soren’s Byralen body will fail him.

More is learned about the Byralens as we progress into the book. In fact, part of the mystery is who and what they are and how Soren came to be abducted.

World building strongly affected the conflict.   Cyani was from a warring nation but a peacekeeper, nonetheless. Her lifestyle was completely different than Soren’s, a people of nurturers, healing, and growth.   Cultural differences are great sources of discord and can provide both emotional tension but also comic relief.   Her advanced technology tells Cyani a few things about the Byralen people including that their eyes can hypnotize you and that they emit sexual pheromones that contain highly addictive properties.   When Cyani begins to have a sexual response to Soren, something she’s never felt before, she believes it is because of his pheromones and when she can’t stop thinking about his body and the way that he feels, she believes that she is becoming addicted to him.   It was interesting and amusing to see how the incomplete intelligence her people had on the Byralen kept leading her to wrong assumptions (and convenient excuses). It also showed how incomplete intelligence could create massive misunderstandings between disparate cultures in a much more dangerous way.

There are only a few sex scenes in the book but I really loved how intricately they were intertwined with the storyline.   The first sex scene was quite beautiful given that it is a revelatory experience for Cyani who had not experienced the loving touch of another being for so long.

I did think that the book moved a bit slow at times as you carefully detailed the world.   I would have liked a bit more action and less introspection.   While I appreciated the specificity of the different cultures, I think it was almost too descriptive at times. Further, toward the end, a secondary character was introduced and this tangent was clearly for sequel building.

I was disappointed at the ending.   She had been a warrior and I know that she sought peace and tranquility after years of fighting but I felt that she was defanged a bit.   This was due, in part, to the fact that her desire for peace and a life away from battle wasn’t emphasized enough in the latter chapters. That goal that seemed prominent in the introduction fell away with part of the suspense and seemed at odds with her instinctive desire to protect and defend, particularly given the revelations that come to light.

This is an accessible science fiction romance and for those who love in depth world building centered around a romance, it’s a good read.   I wish it weren’t in trade so that it would be financially more accessible to others.   B-

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased at Amazon. No ebook yet.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

16 Comments

  1. Rob Charron
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 05:01:46

    Hi :)
    Thanks for a great review Jane.
    All the best,
    twitter: @RKCharron
    xoxo

  2. katiebabs
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 05:45:03

    I really enjoyed Granger’s book. I think fans of Linnea Sinclair or Ann Aguirre will want to pick this up. I assumed it would be heavy on the erotic. Even though the sex scenes are too much on that end, I did like the build up of attraction between the two characters and the world building.

  3. RStewie
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 06:51:34

    After successfully downloading the various softwares needed to read eBooks on my laptop, I’m sad to see this isn’t available in epub. It sounds like a great read, and I’m very interested in getting my hands on it.

    I guess I’ll have to drive into town to check out the bookstore for it, instead.

  4. Heather Massey
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 07:00:55

    Thanks for the review, Jane!

    I really enjoyed how this story opened. I thought the author did a great job of mixing action with the worldbuilding in the opening chapters. Like Katiebabs, I expected more sex scenes and I was pleasantly surprised that there were not.

    It’s a fun read, and I think this is a good book to start with if you’ve never read a science fiction romance before.

    This is an accessible science fiction romance

    I think part of the reason for that is Soren’s biological makeup. He’s exploited via invasive scientific procedures. I enjoy stories where a character is a science fictional element (e.g., cyborgs). Then that element can really come alive as opposed to a bunch of dry technobabble.

  5. Jody W.
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 07:41:55

    I love romances that are heavy on the worldbuilding! Can’t wait to read this one. I’m going to wait a bit and see if an electronic version comes out but I’ll probably break down and get the trade pb before long.

  6. DS
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 07:56:41

    If this ever hits Kindle where I can download a sample I’ll at least check it out. I trust your opinion on writing, Jane, but it sounds a little too much like Linnea Sinclair. Her books are hit and miss with me, I’ve really liked a couple and the rest I couldn’t finish.

    I read the excerpt on the author’s blog and the opening dialogue sounded like sf parody, In fact I couldn’t help thinking what would have been said about it had it appeared on your First Page feature. Maybe I should ask– is this meant to be funny? ( I’d don’t mean the Amazon/Azralen bit).

    I am glad you mentioned the stripes on the hero. I originally thought the cover showed sunlight coming through a window blind on his back.

  7. Lisa Paitz Spindler
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 08:04:03

    I didn't have Beyond the Rain as a recommended read this month just becauseit was a science fiction romance but it did play a part.

    Why would a book being science fiction romance be an automatic disqualifier for a recommended read? Also, Beyond the Rain was actually an August recommended read: http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2009/08/06/dear-author-recommends-for-august-2/

    Maybe I’m just not following what you’re saying here, but overall I’m so very glad to see DA reviewing science fiction romance.

  8. Jane
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 08:04:30

    @DS: This book really does lack in good dialogue. It’s one of the downfalls and part of the reason I think that the pacing seems so slow. I thought the worldbuilding was really quite good and that the heroine was the warrior while hero was the nuturer/gatherer.

    If you feel that the excerpt isn’t to your taste, I don’t know that the writing would work for you (thank goodness for excerpts, huh?). I don’t read a lot of SFR because it’s either very dense or very boring or both but this was interesting to me.

    The second book in the series sounds more traditional with the alpha male hero rearing his head.

  9. Jane
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 08:07:56

    @Lisa Paitz Spindler: My sentence wasn’t very articulate, was it? I was saying that I wasn’t just recommending Beyond the Rain because it was a SFR but its being a SFR did influence my decision. There isn’t a lot of SFR being published so I want to be supportive of something different when it comes along.

    It’s trade and it’s a B- grade so it got a provisional recommendation.

  10. Lisa Paitz Spindler
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 08:09:06

    Thanks for clearing that up, Jane. I’m looking forward to more SFR reviews in the future.

  11. Agent Z.
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 09:27:21

    I like my SFR with a healthy dose of world building, so this book sounds like my cuppa. A good review from someone who is not a fan of SFR? I believe I’ll be shelling out the bucks.

  12. Diana Peterfreund
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 11:20:29

    I read an excerpt from this a long time ago and was very intrigued. The hormone harvesting of the Byralen, in particular, reminded me a lot of BRIGHTNESS FALLS FROM THE AIR by James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon), which I loved as a teen.

  13. Cybercliper
    Aug 13, 2009 @ 13:45:30

    Thanks for the review. This one has been on my radar for a while now, so I think I’ll take the plunge and give it a shot. I love Science Fiction / Fantasy Romance and there hasn’t been a lot put out there recently. I’ve just discovered Linnea Sinclair, Catherine Spangler, and Stobie Piel – mostly older work, a few well placed sex scenes, nothing I’d classify as erotic, but still very good romantic reads with, I think, good world building.

  14. Aoife
    Aug 16, 2009 @ 15:26:40

    I just finished this last night. I read Beyond the Rain in one sitting, and enjoyed some parts of it very much. However, for a book that is priced at $15.00, rightly or wrongly, I expect just a bit more finesse in the world-building, more polished dialogue, greater consistency in characterisation, and a smidge more complexity in the plot. Beyond the Rain felt a little shallow to me, in that sense, like SF-F-very-very-lite. I like some of Linnea Sinclair’s work a lot, but, this didn’t seem to have the same depth of either world-building or emotion. Honestly, at this price, I wouldn’t be much inclined to try the next book in this series, unless my library had it.

  15. Jess Granger » Blog Archive » More Review Links
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 03:12:27

    [...] a roundup of the latest reviews, and the review from Dear Author [...]

  16. Lorenda
    Oct 29, 2010 @ 14:47:49

    Just an FYI on this one – it is now available on Kindle.

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