Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Willing Skin (Space Grit #4) by Ella Drake #scifi #romance #spaceopera

Title: Willing Skin (Space Grit #4)
Author: Ella Drake
Genre: Scifi Romance/Space Opera
Publisher: self
Available: Amazon $3.99 (Kindle) 207 pages
Rating: 5*
Rater: Pippa

Sylla Viola has never put down roots. When she's forced to abandon her life, she leaves everything behind. Nothing to miss. Nothing to regret. Not even the loss of her body. Using a DNA mod that changes her into a male half-human Scoriah, she's poised to get away from the hunter on her trail. Until she runs into the one man who can see through her disguise.

Docked at Station Viesel, Echtei Bronson helps a lost male Scoriah. One minute in his company threatens Echtei's control. One glimpse of the woman inside and he can't keep his hands off. One heated touch and he gives in to the need to wreak havoc on anyone who touches Sylla--a woman who could never stay with a man forever tied to family and home.

But even Echtei can't defeat what's chasing Sylla--a ruthless cyborg hunter who has shown that a Scoriah is no match for him. Echtei won’t give Sylla up without a fight. It's face the impossible or die trying, even if survival means war.

Willing Skin is a full-length science fiction romance, standalone novel in the Space Grit series with a happily ever after ending.

Warning: This novel is intended for readers 18 and older. It contains explicit female/male and (female as male)/male scenes, language, violence.

Keywords: f(m)/m, explicit sex, violence, alien romance, space opera, Twelfth Night trope, What you Will, disguise, gender swapping, woman disguised as man, android, cyborg, romance, genes

What I liked:
I wasn't sure if I would like this but I decided to take a leap of faith, and I'm glad I did. Take a deep breath because the tension and action never let up for a second! It didn't feel at all like 95K, in a good way because of the seat of your pants pacing. The tech elements were intriguing and appealed hugely to my SF side without being overwhelming for anyone who isn't that into SciFi - the concept of the skin suit for the heroine and all the mental and physical conflict it involved was hugely original and completely fascinating to me. Plus the author excels at writing explicit sex scenes but in a way that doesn't set me cringing at the words used. I was also fascinated by the cyborg bounty hunter.

What I didn't like:
Some of the phrasing got a bit repetitive toward the end, and the constant to-ing and fro-ing to the same places got a bit wearing. Also the amount of time the central couple spent snogging, fondling, and/or more involved pushed my believeability limit considering how much danger Sylla was supposedly in. These were very minor niggles overall though.

In conclusion:
While a bit heavy on the sex scenes for my personal taste, this is one hot, exciting, tense, and all-round fun romp on a space station, with some uber fascinating tech including the heroine's ability to gender-flip. I'm still thinking about the story and the characters weeks after reading. If you find the idea of switched gender sex offensive, this is not for you. About the closest comparison I can make is maybe an X-rated version of Farscape where the Scarrans are more human and sexy rather than scary, and with a Terminator-style assassin. Although book four of this series, it reads perfectly fine as a standalone so you can jump in mid-series without feeling lost.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Girl from Above 0.5: Falling by Pippa DaCosta #spaceopera #scifi

Title: Girl from Above 0.5: Falling
Author: Pippa DaCosta
Genre: Space Opera
Publisher: self
Available: Amazon $0.00 (Kindle) 40 pages
Rating: 4.5
Rater: Pippa

Warning: Adult content.

Caleb Shepperd is a fixer. He'll do anything for credits.

When he's hired to track and kill a woman who's muscled in on a dangerous smuggler's territory, he figures it's just another day in the black...Until he's trapped in a silo with his mark.

'Just another day in the black' could turn out to be his last day alive.

A short story prequel to the bestselling science fiction series 'Girl From Above ~ The 1000 Revolution'.

Can be read at any time before, during, or after any of the main books in the series.

NOTE: This is a short story of approximately 35 pages.

*Originally published in The Galaxy Chronicles 2015 (since modified for re-release).

What I liked:
More Girl from Above? Yes, please! Although this didn't feature One - my favourite character of the following series - having forgiven Caleb and still having a question mark over Fran I was more than happy to spend more time in their universe and learn something more about them. Gritty, tense, and action-packed with flawless writing. Just what you need for something to occupy your coffee/tea/beverage of choice break.

What I didn't like:
One of my personal bug bears - too much back matter! Getting to 74% and finding that was the end of the story left me feeling a little cheated. Yeah, I understand that authors want to include stuff to get you to read their other works, and it being a free story, but 25% of it is pushing it for me. Maybe I'm just greedy in wanting it to have been at least 90% story...

In conclusion:
A quick, action-packed fun read that gives some background to the events in the Girl from Above series or a taster to get you started.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Chain Reaction (8th Wing #2) by Zoe Archer #scifi #romance #spaceopera

Title: Chain Reaction (8th Wing #2)
Author: Zoe Archer
Genre: Scifi Romance
Publisher: Harlequin Digital Sales Corp
Available: Amazon $2.99 (Kindle) 139 pages
Rating: 4*
Rater: Pippa

Elite 8th Wing pilot Celene Jur was taken captive after a mysterious device temporarily disabled her ship's controls. Three solar months later, when Celene receives intel on the man who built the device, she's ready to get the bastard. Only problem is, the higher-ups think her mission partner should be Nils Calder, a tech-head who can understand the disabling device. The attraction between them is electric, but Celene needs a soldier who can watch her back as she exacts her revenge.

Nils knows his department is nicknamed NerdWorks. Pilots like Celene think the closest tech geeks come to combat is all-night Nifalian chess tournaments. But behind the NerdWorks insignia on his sleeve Nils is an able fighter, ready to prove himself and gain Celene's trust.

The desire between them is unexpected, but with the fate of thousands hanging in the balance, the hotshot pilot and the tech genius must succeed in their mission—no matter the cost.

What I liked:
Some great sensual descriptions, as well as great snark. Beautifully paced tension, especially on the sexual side, and the actions scenes were full of energy. I really liked the character of Nils and how he broke the nerd cliche. There was also nothing heavy about the story.

What I didn't like:
I didn't really connect/empathize with Celene, although perhaps that's because I hadn't read the previous book. There weren't any scenes to emphasize how the whole hero worship thing was actually crippling her love life other than being told backstory. The pace was good until it dropped and became a bit fragmented midway and never quite picked back up for me, especially at the finale. There also wasn't anything ground-breakingly new or different about the story overall.

In conclusion:
This was a quick, light, and fun military SFR story that can be read as a standalone despite being book two of a series. On the downside, it was lacking on the emotional intensity side of the romance for me and missing an explosive final confrontation. If I'm honest I was left a bit disappointed by it. For fans of military scifi romance who aren't into a lot of emotional angst as part of the build up or lots of techy descriptions, and along the lines of a lighter Battlestar Galactica (reboot)/newer Star Trek.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Girl from Above 4 by Pippa DaCosta #spaceopera #scifi

Title: Girl from Above: Trust (The 1000 Revolution #4)
Author: Pippa DaCosta
Genre: Space Opera/Scifi
Publisher: Self
Available: Amazon $2.99 (Kindle) 172 pages
Rating: Pippa
Rater: 5*


“I didn’t sign up to die a hero.” ~ Caleb.

Chen Hung closes in.
The nine systems hang perilously close to a second fatal Blackout.
The lives of billions of people are at stake.
Does Captain Caleb Shepperd have what it takes to save the nine systems, or just himself?

Caleb never wanted to be a hero. That was his brother’s dream. Keep it simple, get away clean. Flying a ship packed with explosives into Janus orbit station isn’t simple, and there ain’t no way he’s getting away clean.

He knows the Fenrir Nine have sent him on a suicide mission, but he’s not about to lay down his life for them. He’s not a hero, and he sure ain’t no fool despite what the Nine must think. There’s another way, he just has to figure it out before the bomb he’s carrying ticks down to zero.

One survived; against the odds, the brutality, and the betrayal, she survived, but inside, in the part of her that’s real, she’s broken. Broken in ways that cannot be fixed.

She’s going back to where it all began, to Janus—to Chitec, to the ‘man’ who made her. It will take all that she is, all that she was, and all that she could be, to save the nine systems from the synthetics.

She will not fail.

“I am One, and I cannot be stopped.”

What I liked:
Grab some tissues and hold on tight! This final installment packs some serious emotional punch (one reason I generally go for SFR over straight SF, but here you get it without the romance), as well as a real adrenaline-laced ride through violence, more betrayal, sacrifice, and emotional awakenings. Basically all hell breaks loose. I finally forgave Caleb for being such a jerk as this a-hole of a reluctant hero has finally turned himself around from someone I hoped would die long before the end of the series to one I could cheer and feel for. Clean, crisp and gritty writing, with a couple of good twists towards the end, plus a satisfactory conclusion that wraps up the four books but leaves intriguing openings for more. Frankly I would love more of One's adventures, but could let Caleb fly off into the sunset because I can only see him reverting after all the character growth in the four books (and I don't want to see that).

What I didn't like:
*spoiler alert! Don't read this section if you don't want the ending given away* 

Well. It's a minor niggle, but the ending didn't sit entirely right with me. I think it's more because I'm perfectly willing to kill all my characters at the end of a non-romance, so maybe I expect other authors to do it (and there's really no reason why they should!). And the vague hints of romance/light romantic elements throughout weren't exactly resolved either - there's still an opening there for potential future books. Maybe I'm just too set into the SciFi romance groove to accept a non-romance ending when I felt the story was heading that way. That said, it wasn't enough to even justify taking off a half star, and didn't spoil my overall enjoyment.

In conclusion:

I feel like One ripped out my heart and squished it, before giving me a hug! This was a seriously good conclusion to the series, and a real tear-jerker, as well as providing some dark, acidic humor and high-adrenaline action. Those hoping for a romantic ending might be disappointed, but for fans of scifi action adventure who aren't offended by the sex and foul language, this is perfection. Recommended for those who like Firefly/Farscape.

Full disclosure: I received a free advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.