Monster or hero?
My name is Larkspur and I was born in the Colony, a labyrinth of tunnels and caves miles beneath the surface designed for prisoners. Being born among the criminals isn't an easy childhood. But I have a secret, my nails turn into sharp claws. I learned early how to fight dirty, hide well and never trust. All too soon, our world changes. Something happens to the prospering world above. The criminals desiring freedom and revenge push toward the surface. Me among them.
Humanity needs a hero, now more than ever, but all they get is me, a monster from the darkness.
Texan Ben Malton is in a heap of trouble! He's had had a rough life. After his mom passed away when he was 12, he was bounced in and out of foster homes, many of which were abusive. He ran away at 17, and went to school briefly, hoping to be a paramedic, then changing to physical therapy. But when the money ran out, he did anything he could to support himself--including dancing in a bar. That's where he caught the eye of a major drug dealer named Dallas, who offered him a place to live, filled with all of the nice things money can buy. The catch was he became Dallas' plaything, existing only as the toy that Dallas played with--but also abused whenever he felt like it. Ben never realized how afraid he could be, until he made the decision to run away from Dallas. That's how he ended up in Wyoming in an old beater car, driving too quickly on snowy roads, until his car went off the road into a ditch. He walked as far as he could, while slowly freezing to death. He saw a building that turned out to be a barn, and fell into an exhausted sleep under some horse blankets in an unused paddock.
Ashton Covert owns the Wyoming ranch he grew up on, and inherited from his father. Ash spend time in the military, as an MP, then started a security agency in California with one of his buddies from the service. When a female celebrity's stalker objected to them arresting him, he drove into Ash, crushing his leg under the wheels of a car, then backed over him again for good measure. So Ash is in a lot of pain from a barely usable leg that he doesn't have the money to have surgery or physical therapy for. When he finds the terrified young man in his outer barn, he invites him in out of innate kindness, to give the boy food and drink, and a warmer place to sleep in the cold of a Wyoming snowstorm.
For all of the violence in this story, it was a very sweet romance. Even the sex scenes were awash in love. Ash and Ben are obviously perfect for each other. Even the friends of Ash who are not gay, can see the growing love between them. But both men carry baggage they fear will turn off anything the other might feel. Ben doesn't want to repay the kindness shown to him on the ranch, by making Ash and his friends targets for when Dallas comes to retrieve him--because there is no doubt in his mind that Dallas won't allow him to get away. Ash fears that the much younger Ben should be enjoying life heartily, not stuck on a ranch with a handicapped older cowboy who can't even ride a horse anymore due to his leg pains. But each helps the other out because they quickly grow to care for each other. And their HEA means that both of them are made whole again--together.
Marisol Martinez is a widow with an eleven-year-old daughter who never met her father. He died in a mining accident right before Marisol found out she was pregnant. She's spent the past twelve years being a part of an inter-planetary resistance, trying to find proof that these "accidents" are being staged by an evil coalition, for nefarious purposes that no one can discover.
Captain, or "Cap" is a cyborg programmed to be a leader. He's spent the past decade protecting all of the members of his cyborg unit. On his way to a "pleasure planet" that even provides relief for the partly-human cyborgs, there is an explosion aboard their spaceship, and all are forced to eject in pods
WOW! This book hit all of my buttons! Futuristic sci-fi, steamy-hot romance, and strong independent heroine meets strong, sexy hero. When brought to Marisol's planet, it turns out that two of the cyborgs are people who were presumed lost in the mining explosion--and one of them is Marisol's fiancé, Aren. Except that Cap has no memories of having been Aren. He does, however, still react to the scent of Marisol's perfume, and eventually, her body. I love that scents are the trigger to such powerful and repressed memories. Cap's cyborg enhancements are not gross, but not designed to be attractive either. The romance between Marisol and Cap grows slowly, brought on by their intense sexual attraction. Could it be that his cells remember hers? Because he doesn't. These two characters both grow during the story, and learn how to love again. And along the way the story of the resistance is told, and the nefarious plot is revealed. There is a HEA for Marisol and Cap. It won't be easy for them to live in peace but they will live to fight another day.
Rose is an older lady who loves reading. When she time travels to another world it seems like a dream come true. The real miracle is that she’s now in the body of a young maiden with a handsome highlander in pursuit!
So the blurb asks: Will Rose remain content with her solitary life, not chancing to upset the past, or will she make a leap through time for everlasting love? Which is kind of silly to me. Why would you want to stay in the future as an old lonely woman when you could be young with a horny highlander? I would love to go back to my 20s!
The time travel is a fun aspect. There really isn’t any need for it though. It sounds more like an old lady’s wishful dream. Once we’re back in time, I love it. The authors descriptions of this beautiful land are beautiful and vivid! You’ll have no problem whisking away from quarantine while reading this. Rose is sweet. I felt bad for her in the beginning and I’m really glad she gets to experience being young again. The chemistry with her dirty highlander, Connor, is steamy. There’s edge of your seat battles and dragons and a few sexy scenes that will get your blood pumping. The ending is satisfyingly happy.
A Rose in Time is a lovely tale filled with romance!
Astrid Carlisle enjoys her job at Satera Industries, the massive interplanetary organization whose enigmatic leader is concerned with profits first and legalities second. Stationed at company headquarters, she can stay out of harm’s way while making good use of her programming skills and keen eye for talent acquisition. Unfortunately, both the busy nature of her work and her office’s remote location leave her feeling dissatisfied with her personal life.
Fresh out of the Central United Space Marines, Tabitha Knox is ready for change, hoping the next stage in her career can take place in the private sector. Employment with Satera Industries would offer her the exciting, fast-paced work she craves, with generous financial compensation to match. All she has to do is get through the rigorous screening process and prove her worth.
The two women meet during the early stages of Tabitha’s application, and their mutual attraction is instant. However, Astrid has been hurt in the past and is cautious about moving too quickly, leading her to devise a plan. She suggests the pair enter the simulations used to test applicants and fight their way through the various environments. If Tabitha can successfully track her down in each phase, she’ll win the ultimate prize: a lucrative job, plus Astrid’s trust and submission. Everything she wants is within reach, but will she be able to achieve her dreams while hunting Astrid?
Hunting Astrid is a futuristic sci fi slow-burn FF romance from the talented author Thea Landen.
A few words from Thea Landen...
When planning out a new book, one of the first things I do is decide whether to write it in first-person or third-person point of view. I know, I know, I really should be focusing on one and developing my distinctive style or voice. But one of the nice things about being an indie author is there are fewer “rules.” I can do what I feel is best for the story I want to tell without feeling limited by what I’ve done in the past.
For me, there are pros and cons for both first-person and third-person. I don’t have a strong preference, though I will say that when I’m writing in first-person, it can be a challenge to develop a character who doesn’t just sound like Thea-the-real-person. It’s argued that a little bit of the author is bound to come through in everything they write, and there’s nothing wrong with that, of course. However, I don’t want all my books to sound like I’m the one telling you a story. With first-person especially, I want the story to come from the characters themselves.
Okay, so how do I choose? Most of the time, if I’m going to be writing something that involves a lot of world-building, with all the descriptive prose to go along with it, I opt for third-person. I’m not saying it can’t be done in first-person, but when there’s a lot of description going on, it tends to flow more naturally coming from an outside narrator. Most of us don’t walk down the street and spend a lot of time thinking about what precise shade of blue the sky is, or how the road twists and turns like a snake, or the gentle way the breeze is ruffling the leaves on the trees. (Well, some of us might. Authors especially. You do you, I won’t judge!)
Even before I plotted out all the details, I knew Hunting Astrid was going to need a lot of such description. Through the use of virtual reality, Astrid and her potential love interest Tabitha travel through a variety of different settings. I wanted each scene to feel distinctive, and I’m not sure if I could have accomplished that by writing in first-person; in other words, by having Astrid herself describe her creations to the readers. Let’s take a look at some examples, starting with Astrid’s “real” world, aboard the train she takes to and from work:
Outside the windows, the angles of the metallic skyscrapers gradually shifted into the softer lines of the trees flanking the streets of residential neighborhoods. The soothing music piped in to the commuter car helped further erase the stresses of the day, and she let her gaze drift around her surroundings. Her tranquil state was short-lived, however, as she caught sight of a familiar face.
We’re seeing and hearing the scene through Astrid’s eyes and ears, but it doesn’t feel forced. For me, I’m not sure if I’d be consciously aware of ambient music relaxing me, or if I’d just notice feeling more relaxed because of it. Could this passage be written in first-person and still be effective? Sure, but I need to consider the story as a whole.
Here’s the first simulation Astrid and Tabitha enter together:
Snow swirled over the valley in gritty gray flakes, stinging any parts of Astrid’s skin left exposed by her gear. She squinted into the wind as she clutched her rifle to her chest, trying to determine her location on the map she’d seen from so many angles while working at her desk. Although the storm made it difficult for her to see, she could make out some shadowy buildings in the distance.
If this happened to me and I were relaying my version of events to a listener, I might mention something stinging my skin, but I doubt I’d think of the weather conditions as “gritty gray flakes,” nor would I refer to “shadowy buildings” in those precise words. Again, I’m not saying it can’t be done. To me, this level of description simply makes more sense in third-person.
One more example of a simulation:
Little sunlight penetrated the thick tangle of branches far above Astrid’s head, casting the rainforest in an eerie dim glow. Insects chirped and buzzed on a continuous loop, nearly as loud as the wind in the previous scene. Damp air and the scent of rotting leaves filled her lungs and nose when she inhaled, and a trickle of sweat rolled down the back of her neck due to the oppressive humidity. She couldn’t decide whether to be proud of her team’s skills when creating the lifelike simulation or curse them for their talent and attention to detail.
Despite being written in third-person, we can get a clear idea of how Astrid is feeling here. She’s uncomfortable. Maybe a little bit nervous. Even with an outside narration, we’re right there in that rainforest with her, and I don’t think the third-person point of view hampers our connection with her.
There are plenty of other examples I could give, including the scene of their climactic showdown, but I don’t want to give away all the fun! In some ways, I did take on the role of Astrid myself, as I had so much fun creating all the different settings for the various scenes to take place in. The chemistry between her and Tabitha is described in vivid detail, and I don’t think I sacrificed anything regarding their emotional connection by choosing to write their story in third-person.
If you love strong women, fast-paced action, and the ability to explore fantastic worlds without leaving the safety and comfort of your home, grab your VR headset and join the adventure with Hunting Astrid!
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