Title: Caught in Amber
Author: Cathy Pegau
Genre: science fiction romance
Publisher: Carina Press
Available: Amazon $1.99 (Kindle)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Recently out of rehab, Sasha James is determined to keep her head down, complete her parole and never touch amber again. The chip in her neck controls her cravings for the highly addictive drug, but also tracks her every move. Not that she goes anywhere other than work and the halfway house she calls home—a far cry from her luxurious former life as lover of the mining colony's top drug dealer, Guy Christiansen.
Agent Nathan Sterling has no desire to see Sasha fall back into amber, but his sister has become Guy's latest conquest and the unexpectedly attractive Sasha is the key to getting her back. So in exchange for an introduction, he offers Sasha the one thing she can't refuse—her freedom. From the chip, her parole and even the planet if she wants. Though he would be sorry to see her go…
Torn between her growing attraction to Nathan, fear of Guy and the allure of amber, Sasha accepts. But who will save her if Guy refuses to let her go a second time?
What I liked.
Sasha, despite her dark past, is an immediately likeable and sympathetic character. Even after being broken and having to rebuild herself from the drug-addicted shambles she's become, she's strong, intelligent, and a warm human being who doesn'twallow in self pity but lives with her regrets. She had every reason to tell Nathan Sterling where to stick his request (and frankly I'm not sure what he was offering was good enough a prize), yet she knows what Nathan's sister is heading for and wants to help.
I liked the world building and the idea of Amber, but felt that it wasn't as in depth as I'd like. It was the character and plot that prompted the five star rating for me.
What I didn't like.
Nathan - despite his good intentions and desire to protect Sasha, I'd like to give him such a slap. He still put her in serious danger for his own ends, and ultimately I found that a little too selfish. I felt he used her, no matter how sorry he was about it and how he fretted over her. From a personal perspective, I really hate to be used. Guy - I've no doubt he was a bad man, but I found myself conflicted over him. He genuinely appeared to care for Sasha and *potential spoiler* dealt with the real creep of the piece, so I actually found it hard to hate or understand him.
This reminded me of a Humphrey Bogart thriller/detective story but in a futuristic setting. Not something I'd normally go for, but the author won me over with Sasha and the lovely dark, slightly Bladerunner-esque feel. The tension was good, both romantic and plot-wise, and the one sex scene was done well. I'd like to have seen more on the world building side. If you like spy thrillers along the lines of James Bond in the future, this is for you.