REVIEW: Calamity by Constance Fay
The captain of a ragtag mercenary ship is given an offer she can’t refuse by the ruthless head of an intergalactic noble family. The only catch? She’ll have to team up with his son–an upsettingly competent hardbody with his own agenda–to get her reward.
She’s got a ramshackle spaceship, a misfit crew, and a big problem with its sexy newest member…
Temperance Reed, banished from the wealthy and dangerous Fifteen Families, just wants to keep her crew together after their feckless captain ran off with the intern. But she’s drowning in debt and revolutionary new engine technology is about to make her beloved ship obsolete.
Enter Arcadio Escajeda. Second child of the terrifying Escajeda Family, he’s the thorn in Temper’s side as they’re sent off on a scouting mission on the backwater desert planet of Herschel 2. They throw sparks every time they meet but Temper’s suspicions of his ulterior motives only serve to fuel the flames between them.
Despite volcanic eruptions, secret cultists, and deadly galactic fighters, the greatest threat on this mission may be to Temper’s heart.
Dear Ms. Fay,
Every once in a while, I try something different. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. For me, this book mostly didn’t work. But I can see it being a fun, thrill ride of entertainment for many others.
Temper Reed seemed like she might be an interesting heroine yet she almost single handedly ruined the book for me as it’s told in first-person POV. But the problem is that Temper has tunnel vision. Temper also not only has a temper but given the choice she will pick the worst option just because of her pride. She knows she is picking the worst thing to do but dammit she’s going to choose it Just Because of her stubborn pride. She’s also a “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead – but with no plan!” captain. At one point, one of her crew asked her what her plan was, and all I could think was “You know her and you think she has a plan??” If she had displayed a smidgeon of competence too I would have been much more happy. I will admit though that by the end of the story, she might have gained a little bit of maturity but waiting for her to do that was agony at times.
Temper also comes off very YA. The first romantic betrayal ought to have been spotted long before the boom was dropped on her. Because of this and the whole Fifteen Families social hierarchy, Temper (who has been banished from her family) of course doesn’t believe Arcadio (son of one of the most prominent families) will choose her. So when he ultimately does (no, this really isn’t a spoiler) she keeps mentally repeating “He picked me! He picked me!” This clashes with the earlier smoldering tension between Temper and Arcadio before the steamy bits ramp up. There are lots of sparks and tight clinches with Temper speculating on how hot Arcadio is and ogling his muscles and his lips. She’s still tossing insults every time she opens her mouth but she definitely wants him.
Both Temper and Arcadio expect the other to be a calamity – hence the title. Temper has been thrown out of her family by her shitty asshat brother. He controlled what information about the situation hit the feeds and he made sure to paint Temper with all the blame. Arcadio expected someone awful and initially reacted as if Temper was living down to his expectations. Temper is on the defensive about working for Arcadio’s family, feels pushed into a no-win situation, and believes his family will screw her over. She thinks he’s a pretty boy there to spy for daddy and not having great confidence in her ability to captain her newly acquired ship, she takes everything as an insult.
Her crew is a basic package of misfits who each has their talent or skill. They banter, they fight together, they keep backing Temper despite her lack of plans but that’s pretty much all there is of them.
The Fifteen Families (who seem to own this universe) sound fairly toxic. I couldn’t help but feel that they are supposed to stand for the 1% here – power hungry, damn the little people, all for us and none for anyone else. “Fuck you!” to the greater universe and all that. I would happily lead a revolt against them. “A la barricade!” Then there’s the cult. What fun people. They’re only slightly better than the Families but with extra craziness baked in for free.
The ending is where I think people might still pull a “like” for the book depending on how off the charts one likes one’s ending. This one rides the rails of WTF until the wheels come off and it goes airborne. It’s like a late 70s Bond movie ending with a volcanic villain’s lair, exposition, giant weapons being powered up, everything blowing up, people laughing maniacally, plus blood and body parts everywhere. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound so good but it was exciting.
I think the story leans into action more than science. The pace is fairly fast. Some things aren’t explained all that well but … maybe the story didn’t really need that much. It hit its beats and landed where I thought it would. I did need more from the romance though as it was more like a lit dynamite fuse – fast, sparky and then ka-boom! There are obviously future books planned as characters are left needing closure and plot threads are loose but to be honest, I doubt I’ll check them out. C-