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REVIEW:  Slip Point by Karalynn Lee

REVIEW: Slip Point by Karalynn Lee

Slip-Point

From childhood, Shay had one dream–to join the Space Corps with her best friend and sweetheart, Jayce. When the Space Corps reveals that the father she thought was dead is actually an infamous pirate and rejects her application, the dream dies and she leaves the planet without saying a word to Jayce.

Ten years later, Shay is a pirate herself. She captains her own ship and has earned a reputation as one of the slipperiest pilots around. That’s why she’s recruited for a dangerous secret government mission. But the cargo she’s assigned to smuggle turns out to be a woman with a government bodyguard–Jayce.

Jayce never thought he’d see Shay again, and when the mission forces them together on her ship, he isn’t sure he can forgive her for deserting him; but their desire for each other is stronger than ever. Jayce knows he wants to be with Shay, but how can he trust a woman who’s both a pirate and the girl who broke his heart?

Dear Ms. Lee,

I was in the mood for something different and thought, “Now what haven’t I read in a while?” The answer was SF and doing some more thinking I remembered that I had one last novella of yours I’d bought but not read. “Slip Point” it is. I’m still looking for the magic of “Back Across the River Styx” to bewitch me again but this one is pretty darn good.

It starts by giving me a good immediate feeling for the characters, time and place. I can sense their frustration at being stuck on backwater world and of wanting off – kind of like any teenager stuck in one horse town waiting on their 18th birthday and Grayhound bus out of there. Only Shay and Jayce want the stars and the new worlds they’ll find there.

I can understand why Shay is blindsided by her true heritage and also why she raced out of the recruitment center with no word to her best friend as to why she’s leaving him. Her pride is wounded, she’s reeling from what she’s learned and she only wants to lick her wounds in peace. I was kind of looking for the mystery of how her father and mother hooked up to be explained but can see why she doesn’t want to go back to question her mother and unable to ask her father – what with everything else she has to suddenly learn.

It’s a quick defection for Shay from a potential future in the Corps to life of crime but this is a novella with a limited word count. Once she goes, she goes fast and goes after what she wants with intelligence, determination and flair. I admired her for that.

The whole set up for the scenario that brings Shay and Jayce back together is held together with cobwebs of understanding that I could follow as it was being laid out but which got convoluted the more it went on. After a while I just went with the whole thing and didn’t try to think too much about it. Both Jayce and Shay display quick thinking which I would expect from a man in the military and a woman who’s run from that military and captained her own ship for ten years.

The SF speak/tech seems believable to me but then I’m not a SF geek so YMMV. It sounds good anyway. The sprinkling of things like clones and Shay’s awe at the unknown mysteries of the aliens helped me believe in this world too. And it’s got humor as well. When Jayce and Shay infiltrate a medical center and Shay kicks some ass, Jayce seems a little stunned at her capability.

The orderly made strangled noises as her leg buckled, and she staggered. Shayalin allowed their combined weight to carry them backward a couple of steps. Then she twisted around and slammed the woman’s head into the back wall.
The orderly slid to the floor. Shayalin stood over her, panting hard. The woman didn’t move. No, there—her chest rose in a shallow breath, and Shayalin felt a rush of relief. Besides, she reminded herself, they were in a top-class medical facility. Cuoramin would patch her up.
Jayce said after a moment, “Can I kick her? Just to feel like I was part of the fight.” Beneath the attempt at humor, she could tell he really was taken aback.

The timing of the sex scene actually made some sense as the two of them were going up against the whole Corps with no guarantee of success. The LOL here helped too.

After she dropped the last article on the floor she stretched out on the bed. She was cold, naked. Goosebumps spread across her skin and her nipples hardened from the chill. He still stood by the doorway, and she propped herself up on one elbow to look at him. “Jayce?”
He crossed the room like a sleepwalker, slow but unerring. “I’ve dreamed this before,” he murmured.
“And did you let my dream-self freeze to death?”

The whole story zips along to the end. Shay and Jayce save the human world – yah! – and then finally get their own HEA due in part to Shay’s keen negotiating skills. Win/win all around. B

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  The Contract by Zeenat Mahal

REVIEW: The Contract by Zeenat Mahal

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“…I’ll pay you a monthly salary to behave and appear for all practical purposes as my wife…If you agree, the marriage vows can be taken on the phone on Saturday, since I have an hour free in the morning.”

Circumstances have forced the young divorcée, Shahira, to accept Hussain’s unusual proposition. As per their contract, she’ll have his name, will be paid to look after his ailing mother and motherless daughter and will be left well alone by him. Perfect!

Until her new husband decides to stop playing by the rules…

Dear Ms. Mahal,

While perusing the latest offerings from Indireads, I remembered how much I enjoyed “Haveli” and how much people at DA expressed interest in reading more books about South Asia. Especially ones using different arranged or marriage of convenience plots. Voici, I thought, here’s a book that will cover all bases.

One reason I love to read books set in a country other than my own is for the chance to vicariously live there for the duration of the story. “The Contract” allows me to do just that. It’s packed with little details about life in Lahore, Pakistani families, weddings, Daahta Saheb and life in general. I was eating all this up and looking for seconds. This is why I read non-US set books.

The growing relationship between Hussain’s mother Aunty Salma and Shahira is wonderful as each finds that which she has longed for – a loving mother-in-law and a daughter-in-law to dote on. Salma also takes Shahira’s son under her wing and gently scolds Sharhira when she protests saying that’s what grannies are for.

Hussain might be a high stakes business wheeler and dealer but Shahira puts him in his place a time or two when he takes the high hand with her over their initial marriage negotiations. He finds himself intrigued but still not falling at her feet – which is a good thing to me. They scheme and snip at each other as they attempt to keep the rest of the family from guessing the truth of their arrangement and seemed evenly matched to me. I was looking forward to them finally discovering each other when some sand got tossed in the Vaseline.

First an Evil Other Woman appeared. The novella is short and there’s a lot of ground to cover so I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when this person was little more than a tissue paper thin stereotype but I would have liked to see a bit more depth to her. However while I could easily dismiss Nudrat, something else occurs that got me steamed.

Shahira was very firm in her demands for no sexual aspect to their marriage. When this suited Hussain, he cared less. But once he decided he wanted to change their arrangements, he was determined to get his way. Shahira all but tells him she was sexually abused by her first husband. While his initial response was dismay for what she went through, in the next breath he turned on the seductive charm again and says,

“You’ve been divorced for six years.”

“Seven, actually…but who’s counting?” she laughed nervously, still a little embarrassed.
“That’s a long time to remember. You should have forgotten any bad experiences by now.”
He gave her another sultry look.

I wanted to slap him through my ereader. No, actually I wanted to knee him in the nuts. She should have forgotten any bad experiences by now?! She should have forgotten being raped?! Really? Asshole. He’s amazed – amazed! – that she’s still traumatized by what (his words) “that bastard” did to her. Hussain just won my prize as the prick of the year. His later anger at Shahira for not telling him she spoke Arabic (of all things to be pissed about) didn’t help. His smug belief that their night of hot loving near the end of the book would fix everything had me rushing to get through the end of this one. B for the local color and Shahira’s strength, F for Hussain.

~Jayne

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