GIVEAWAY: Temporary Duty Assignment
Ana from The Booksmugglers let me know that A.E. Ash had a new novella coming out. If you remember, Ash wrote Luminous which Kaetrin gave an A-. Kaetrin wrote, “I loved the spare style of writing and the little flourishes of flavour and meaning through the story. It’s the kind of short story I can imagine reading again and again, getting something a little different out of it each time. It is the kind of story I’d recommend to just about anyone.”
Luminous is an unusual and imaginative love story. Ash is back with another wonderful science fiction romance. To celebrate, we’re hosting a giveaway. In the meantime, while you’re waiting to find out if you’ve won a shelfie (a print copy for your shelf) and the gift card, you can hop over and buy the novella. It’s out today!
Temporary Duty Assignment by A.E. Ash
From the author of Luminous comes a high stakes sci-fi romance
Samantha Gao is an elite Metro soldier, dedicated to the job and to her team. But following a devastating mission, Sam is handed a new temporary duty assignment. On paper, she’s supposed to babysit a Metro tech-inspector during a routine evaluation of Greenerhouse seed colony’s corporate sponsor. Sam expects to be on duty at all times, ready for whatever comes. But what she didn’t expect was to see him–Caleb–again.
Caleb Estes is an engineer at Greenerhouse and cannot believe his luck when his first love, Samantha Gao, walks into his lab–and back into his life. It’s enough to make him believe in second chances after all.
But Sam and Caleb’s reconciliation will have to wait when the routine bodyguard job goes sideways, and the future of the seed colony itself is at stake..
A.E. Ash is a writer, nerd, gamer, mooncalf but not a baker or candlestick maker (and nobody said anything about butcher). She writes speculative poetry and fiction because why not make good use of an over-active imagination? Ash lives in the Midwest with her super-rad husband and her lazy cats who do nothing at all to help her on the path to world domination. You can find her on Twitter at @dogmycatzindeed or on her blog, www.aeashwrites.com.
Alpha, Beta, Gamma…Or Just Partners in Life: On Romance in Temporary Duty Assignment
Hello, all! I’m Amanda–the writer known as A.E. Ash–and I’m so happy to get the chance to share some thoughts on romance and how it lights up the plot of Temporary Duty Assignment, coming August 15th courtesy of The Book Smugglers Novella Initiative. <3
Second-chance romance is easily one of my all-time favorite romantic tropes (or friendship or family narratives, for that matter) for one big reason–second chances equate hope. I love the idea that we can grow through rocky soil to bloom into something better/stronger than before no matter where we are in life. Second-chance romances embody this idea, and hit on some of my deepest beliefs about love–that it can be worked for, cultivated, and tended to vibrancy despite hardships along the way.
In Temporary Duty Assignment, I pit a newly-rekindled romance against intrigue, action and some big-bad dangers on the fringes of a post-dystopian world. Samantha Gao, Metro spec-ops military police officer and Caleb Estes, biomechanical engineer, crash together again in the oddest of circumstances but given their past, that’s hardly surprising…these two seem to thrive amidst the peculiar. Sam is an alpha heroine, Caleb is a beta hero. Both are getting along into their 30’s. Both are survivors. They are complimentary, and more than ever they see this to be the case as they work together to survive.
I’ll level with you about one little thing. I’ve always been a little unsure of the terminology of alpha versus beta heroes. This is coming from me not just as a writer, but as a looooonnnnng time veteran romance reader–we’re talking, fifth grade, sneaking my Mom’s paperback stash (medical romances, women holding their own against arrogant dukes, mystery-romances set in deceptively cozy little towns). I devoured more of these stories than I can count, and I love a wide variety of heroes/heroines to this day. My twitch reaction to the terminology of “alpha/beta” exists because personally, I’ve never wanted to see love as a power dynamic or contest, and I never wanted to imagine that any man or woman is lesser because of temperament, stature, occupation and such.
This reaction is a big part of why I wrote the romance in Temporary Duty Assignment as I did.
I do understand that alpha/beta are terms are a sweeping generalization that become necessary in marketing romance fiction to its audience (self included). We romance readers have certain tropes and dynamics we are drawn to and knowing what we’re getting into can be helpful, for sure…the distinctions can be necessary on some level.
I just love to think that romance is at its heart about people who complement each other, no matter the gender/pairing of the lovers. In my novella, I play around with the alpha/beta dynamic in a way inspired by narratives that I most enjoy (because really, so many writers do the beta hero/strong heroine well), with my own take on the modified trope. Samantha–Sam Gao–is a powerful spec-ops soldier working in a post-dystopian megacity. She’s got to be competent, tough, and driven to do the work that she does. Meanwhile, Caleb Estes, the man she’s never been able to forget, is a scientist–a biomechanical engineer, to be exact. He’s principled, clever, empathetic and unafraid to fight for what he believes in. I won’t lie, I was inspired by Poe Dameron’s spirit, Wash from Firefly’s humor, and a whole cadre of my favorite characters when I dreamed up Caleb.
Sam–taciturn but gooey-on-the-inside, bullheaded, brave, stubborn–has been attracted to Caleb’s strength and optimism since she saved his ass during a schoolyard tussle. Caleb was never the type to back down from a fight himself, and they’ve made a great team because of it. Their principles match up, even if their callings are very different.
Even years later, driven apart by those big ugly complicated messes that sort of just happen as a side-effect of being alive, Sam and Caleb love and respect one another if from a distance. In Temporary Duty Assignment, I got to throw two good-hearted, flawed, and hopefully believable people into a reunion that is put to the test by unexpected dangers. I got to force these two to work together again only to come out on the other side, my alpha heroine and beta hero, stronger and more in love than before. It’s Caleb’s and Sam’s complementary strengths and even weaknesses that make their match promising but in the end, their emotional honesty and hard-earned trust that give their relationship staying power.
In the end, for me, it’s not about alpha or beta or but about what happens when you work to make love grow.
And do Sam and Caleb get an HFN or HEA? Definitely a Happily for Now by the end of the novella but as their humble mouthpiece in this corporeal realm, I can promise you that they live out their days in a way that’s as greenie-great as any people walking this earth can.
I hope that my exploration of hard-won relationship success and love in the face of life’s big whammies is something my readers enjoy. Thank you so much for reading…it means the world to me!