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REVIEW: Moonstruck by Susan Grant (Borderlands Book 1)

Dear Ms. Grant,

book review I know you were disappointed with the last review I did here but I think part of my grade was due to the fact that I’d read, and enjoyed, so many of your past books. You were gracious enough to reply with civility and offer up your next book for review. A reviewer can’t ask for more than that. I think you’ll like this one a bit better.

IMO, the world building is good and well thought out. It’s probably not up to pure SF standards but this is romantic SF. Nothing stuck out as unexplained, made up just when it was needed or otherwise deus ex machina-esque. I did need to ask some questions about the importance of seemingly tech lowly Earth being one of the three branches of the Triad Alliance but readers who have finished all the books in this series should be good to go. Other than that, I think “Moonstruck” stands well on its own and that readers can pick up the series here.

Brit Bandar and Finn Rorkken do a roll switch. Brit is the strong, silent type who keeps her past pain bottled up while she spends her career becoming a legend in the Coalition. Her only thought is to kill more Horde then go on and kill some more. Romance much less love plays no part in her life. I appreciated seeing a woman in the lead power role of a story and was further delighted that she doesn’t back down or hand over control as the romance thread is furthered. Sure she can assimilate new information while listening to her subordinates and change course but she isn’t weakened during the course of the book by making her more feminine.

She’s also professional enough to accept the job handed to her and do it to the best of her ability. She has major reasons to try and sabotage the process or at least make life difficult for all concerned but she doesn’t. And when the truth comes out in her showdown with Finn, she’s mature enough to see what she can have and go for it despite her past losses. The romance might have been a little bit rushed but the action/adventure aspect of the book demands a fast paced story so there isn’t a whole lot of time for a slow kindling of the relationship.

Finn is astounded to find himself where he is. He’s had to scramble his whole life to survive and advance and has the brains to appreciate the cush job he’s landed in the post-war era. But he’s also determined to rise even further and knows that to do so, he and his crew, to whom he stays loyal, need to blend in and work together in the new Alliance. I like that you also show his personal dilemmas as he adjusts to his new status and role in the Alliance. I also like how you didn’t make him a whiny, angst puppy constantly dwelling on his childhood past as reason and justification for being a jerk. Not that he is one, of course.

I like that you show the bumps along the road to all three sides coming together as a group. It would be hard to believe in ‘one happy family’ engaging in group hugs after what everyone’s gone through for centuries. I like Brit’s show of leadership in beginning the melding process, despite what her personal feelings might be. No sulking or petty nonsense from this focused woman. I did begin to catch on to what was happening behind the scenes so the ultimate revelation of the villain wasn’t a surprise but on the other hand, I like that the identification and reasoning didn’t zap me upside the head from left field. The clues are there but just subtly integrated into the story.

I like that no one does a 180 personality change. I think this really shows up in the secondary characters like Tango and Hadley, Bolivarr (is his name in any way symbolic of Simon Bolivar?) and Rakkelle. They are who they are, we see them interact, learn and grow but there are no sudden wrenches in who they are and how they act in the context of the story.

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about your books is the fact that you make such use of you own experiences in the military, as an officer and as a pilot. It adds just that bit extra to ground the characters you write and the worlds you build. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series “The Warlord’s Daughter.” Is this going to show us Hadley’s romance? And I wish the cover had shown some of Finn’s tattoos! B+

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

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.

16 Comments

  1. Chicklet
    Jun 02, 2008 @ 15:40:38

    Sure she can assimilate new information while listening to her subordinates and change course but she isn't weakened during the course of the book by making her more feminine.

    You had me at that sentence. *adds title to To-Buy list*

    One question: Do I need to read the previous three books first?

  2. Kimber An
    Jun 02, 2008 @ 16:08:38

    Hey, it’s a stellar day! Two of my favorite authors – Susan Grant and Michelle Moran – are at the top of the Dear Author blog.

    I was privilaged with a MOONSTRUCK ARC a couple of months back or so to review on my blog. It’s an excellent example of the difference between Good and Great, I think. My comfort zone in Heat Level in Romance novels is about at Sensual, whereas MOONSTRUCK is Highly Sensual. Doesn’t matter. Unlike a lot of Highly Sensual novels, if you take the graphic nookie out of MOONSTRUCK you still have a strong, riveting story. And the lovemaking is perfectly suited to the Hero and Heroine in question, so leaving it in works great too. I think a lot of people forget that Love doesn’t only inspire great sex, but also courage, loyalty, and healing, among other things.

    The other two things I loved about this one was that Brit is a mature heroine, forties or fifties. She’s an admiral. And she’s also something else I can’t tell you, but I can say it bugs me there aren’t more like her in Science Fiction Romance.

    Way to go, Susan.
    ;)

  3. Jayne
    Jun 02, 2008 @ 18:48:06

    Chicklet I would say no. The only thing you need to know is that the Alliance tried to annex Earth but the earthlings outsmarted them and gained a place for themselves in the final Triad Alliance. I had only read the first book and this is the only question I had to ask Susan as I was reading this book.

  4. Heather
    Jun 02, 2008 @ 18:55:41

    Thanks for the review, Jayne!

    I can’t wait to give away a copy of MOONSTRUCK to one lucky visitor during my Susan Grant blitzkrieg over at The Galaxy Express. Stay tuned, folks.

  5. Randi
    Jun 02, 2008 @ 19:31:22

    OMG. Srsly. OMG. Check out that Sarah Brightman video at The Galaxy Express link Heather mentioned. It’s HOT. Like ABBA hot. Like Blondie hot. Like Blondie meets Abba hot. That’s the best thing on the intertubes today!

  6. Heather
    Jun 02, 2008 @ 20:31:54

    Thanks, Randi! All in a day’s work.

  7. MaryK
    Jun 02, 2008 @ 23:08:01

    Jayne, have you been to Susan’s Borderlands website? There’s an awesome tattooed image there. Just pretend it’s on the book cover – that’s what I do.

  8. Jayne
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 08:01:21

    MaryK, Thanks for the link. I had tried it using (I think) www. borderlands .com which got me nowhere. That is a great image of Finn’s tattoo!

  9. Susan Grant
    Jun 03, 2008 @ 16:08:09

    Jayne, what a wonderful write-up. Thank you! This is just great. I surely do appreciate your time, and your comments. I liked that you noticed the military aspects. I loved writing a high ranking female officer. You don’t see many in fiction that aren't “men with boobs.”

    They really did do a huge improvement with the next cover. Here’s a link.
    http://the-borderlands.com/images/WarlordDaughter_TEST.jpg

    I don’t have the final yet. But I love it and the guy is hot. No tattoos, though! Here I have heroes in tattoos and can’t get any on the covers! It’s almost as if publishers have a set “language” in various genres, and that tattoos mean paranormal. Does that transfer over to readers? We look for a specific “type” of book based on the cover look? While not a bad cover, to me Moonstruck screams contemporary romance. They are still feeling out what to do with SFR. I think Bantam’s done well with Linnea Sinclair’s covers.

    Brit is actually late 30s. Yeah, I know. But that's in admiral years. :) And, yes, Kimberly, I agree with you on what you can’t say. We need more of those.

    You know, the sensuality thing is so interesting. I thought it was a fairly hot book but nowhere near many that are out there, just somewhere in the middle. Not as much as Kimber maybe but definitely more than RT’s rating of “mild” i.e. “little to no sex.” This book? I was really surprised by that. I am curious how RT calculates their heat ratings. Anyway, it would make for an interesting topic.

    And yes, Heather’s giving away a signed copy of Moonstruck on her fantastic website. I’ve been on deadline and haven’t had a chance to explore it completely but there’s so much there. She did an amazing job.

    Thank you again. It is just wonderful to be mentioned here as a recced read.

  10. Heather
    Jun 04, 2008 @ 13:22:55

    Susan, I’m inspired now to do a future post on SFR covers. Check. Also, heat level in SFR stories. Double check. Sweet! Thanks for the kind words about TGE.

  11. Kimber An
    Jun 04, 2008 @ 15:31:58

    ‘Sweet’ (no nookie) is the key word here, Heather, and also what I tag as Mildly Sensual (nookie is assumed but not ‘seen.’) There are a lot of readers who like SF, but shy away from SFR because the Heat Levels are too hot for them. Also, I could recommend SFR to teens in good conscious, which would build a future readership for all SFR authors.

  12. Jayne
    Jun 04, 2008 @ 18:41:35

    I loved writing a high ranking female officer. You don't see many in fiction that aren't “men with boobs.”

    They really did do a huge improvement with the next cover. Here's a link.
    http://the-borderlands.com/images/WarlordDaughter_TEST.jpg

    Yes, I’d love to see more high ranking female officers. Real ones who are both feminine and strong and can do their jobs without being turned into mush during a crisis so the heroes can save them. Love the new cover too.

    I don't have the final yet. But I love it and the guy is hot. No tattoos, though! Here I have heroes in tattoos and can't get any on the covers! It's almost as if publishers have a set “language” in various genres, and that tattoos mean paranormal. Does that transfer over to readers? We look for a specific “type” of book based on the cover look? While not a bad cover, to me Moonstruck screams contemporary romance. They are still feeling out what to do with SFR. I think Bantam's done well with Linnea Sinclair's covers.

    Didn’t someone mention tattoos + paranormals + covers = getting old? In which case, it’s a good thing Finn’s tattoos were covered up!

  13. lisapaitzspindler.com»Blog Archive » Danger Gal Friday: Admiral Brit Bandar
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 09:53:05

    [...] Finn Rorkken finds himself appointed second-in-command of the Vengeance. I agree with Jayne over at Dear Author that I like how Grant “didn't make him [Finn] a whiny, angst puppy constantly dwelling on [...]

  14. TheGalaxyExpress>>BlogArchive>>Man Titty Does Not Compute
    Jun 16, 2008 @ 08:17:00

    Today's post about science fiction romance covers was inspired by discussions here, here, here, and here.[...]

  15. June Recommended Reads | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Dec 17, 2009 @ 12:59:10

    [...] Moonstruck by Susan Grant (Otherworldly Men Book 4). One thing I've always enjoyed about your books is the fact that you make such use of you own experiences in the military, as an officer and as a pilot. It adds just that bit extra to ground the characters you write and the worlds you build. Brit Bandar and Finn Rorkken do a roll switch. Brit is the strong, silent type who keeps her past pain bottled up while she spends her career becoming a legend in the Coalition. Finn is astounded to find himself where he is. He's had to scramble his whole life to survive and advance and has the brains to appreciate the cush job he's landed in the post-war era. But he's also determined to rise even further and knows that to do so, he and his crew, to whom he stays loyal, need to blend in and work together in the new Alliance. Read more here. [...]

  16. Lisa Paitz Spindler » Danger Gal Friday: Admiral Brit Bandar
    Jan 28, 2011 @ 15:41:31

    [...] Finn Rorkken finds himself appointed second-in-command of the Vengeance. I agree with Jayne over at Dear Author that I like how Grant “didn’t make him [Finn] a whiny, angst puppy constantly dwelling [...]

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