REVIEW: Moonstruck by Susan Grant (Borderlands Book 1)
Dear Ms. Grant,
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+