Title: Tracing the Stars (Corwint Central Agent Files #3)
Author: CE Kilgore
Genre: Space opera/scifi romance
Publisher: Tracing the Stars
Available: Amazon $3.80 (Kindle) 251 pages
Hankarron Eros has loved Tara since she had pigtails, but his fear of losing the strength and support that their friendship provides leads him to keep his heart's desires locked away. When the truth about his family is exposed and leaves him grasping to hold onto his ship, his crew and his sanity, words are spoken that can't be taken back and the presence he had grown so used to having at a convenient reach is gone.
Tara Flint has never denied her heart's attraction to the floppy-haired, brown-eyed Hankarron, even if he can be a stupid limik sometimes. Her strong will falters as she is forced to decide between a promise she made to her father, a boy she has loved since she had pigtails and the possibility of finding out what her life might be like without the presence of Hankarron always by her side.
When you get knocked down, you get back up and hit the other guy harder. Trip 'Wild Fists' Weston is a Runata'ji combat fighter at the top of his career with a fame and fortune he doesn't want and a Lucky Clover tattooed across his heart to remind him of the girl who is always just out of reach. When Tara's luck lands her in his lap without Hankarron on her heels, Trip wonders if this is his chance to capture his Clover, or if Tara's luck has other ideas in mind. Fate doesn't always give you want you want, but it will always give you what you need.
Jennadri Szina doesn't have time for matters of the heart or trying to get two wayward agents back on track. She's got a mission to run, a Director who is dying and a mother who isn't easy to impress. When Jehdra sends her to save Hank and Tara, Jen takes her mother's mission on at full speed, but she isn't prepared to manage 'Wild Fists' Weston and his damn dimple.
They say that the stories of our time will one day be traced into the stars to help guide others home. Fate strings intertwine with skipping stones across the stars of the universe, pulling it forward and writing new lines in the night sky as the Corwint Central Agent saga continues to lead Ethan, Orynn and Jarren towards a collision that holds the power to change everything.
What I liked:
The plot thickens and the tension and intrigue continue to rise. This one, perhaps more than the previous two, starts to hint that there's much more going on than anyone realized, and way more at stake than just Orynn's safety and freedom. The depth of the world building and differing cultures, plus more behind the existence of both the Vesparians, Trexens, and the Mechatronic Automatons, grows ever more complex. The situation between Asha and Merik is becoming increasingly tense. The secondary romance was more satisfying than the main romance.
What I didn't like:
The main focus of this book is the first romantic couple listed in the blurb, and to my mind it is the least satisfying and most overly drawn out 'will-they/won't they' romance of the series. Painfully so. It made me flinch rather than ramping up the tension, and it was more a case of 'hurrah, that's over' rather than them getting their HEA.
In terms of the main story arc - the two skipping stones or Vestrasa Jarren and Orynn - and the developing conflict on a cosmic scale, this was an improvement on book two. There's much more of the search for Orynn, more revelation on Jarren's scheming coming together and the realization that he has manoeuvred so many people while keeping his hand well hidden. In terms of the primary romance, it really fell flat to me (and I will admit to skipping ahead because I wanted more Merik and Asha). I actually preferred the fiery secondary romance between Trip and Jennahdri despite it happening too fast. However, the bigger storyline that started in book one is certainly building up tension and impetus, so I would say I rate book three more for that than the romance (though it is still most definitely a romance). Again, the very many POVs made it harder to follow. I will mention, however, that I have an older version of this book so some of it may have been tightened up since (as I know the author has updated them), and the few typos/errors I spotted have probably been remedied. This is not my favourite of the series so far. I also skipped the side stories so as to focus on the main books in the series, and I found that made it less confusing moving from book two to book three.