The Backdraft Award (A door can feel cool, but when you open it the heat explodes.)
Return to Dark Earth: The Phoenix Adventures #7 by Anna Hackett
Niklas Phoenix left his dream job years ago to join his brothers as infamous intergalactic treasure hunters. Cutthroat competition makes every hunt an adventure. Rival hunter Nera Darc often appropriates their finds until the contest became personal. Sleek, smart and stunning, Nera stole Nik’s heart over the years but always danced out of reach. Both are offered the chance by Nik’s former employer to return to the decimated and dark birth world of humanity in search of ultimate treasures. What they find together, if they survive, could change their lives forever.
This story can be read as a standalone, but if you are going to read the series do so in order because that’ll make this long-awaited romance all the better. From the characters’ first meeting in an early book I’ve been wanting to read THIS story. And Ms. Hackett doesn’t disappoint. This would rock as a movie, easily as fast, funny, and captivating as Indiana Jones. I loved it. Niklas is the quiet gamma. Smart, handsome, loyal, and not afraid to step up when needed or step back when his lady can take care of herself. I love him. Nera is a badass without having to be snarky and loud. She is quietly scary, power and grace. This book left me happy.
The Keep Me Up All-Nighter
Atrophy by Jess Anastasi
A crazy starship captain haunted by ghosts. A woman living in her big brother’s shadow, always watching his back, and always lonely. An innocent man condemned to prison on a planetary Alcatraz, given a single chance to escape. In true Firefly fashion, this story is funny, dark, and romantic with a variety of colorful characters. The world is deep and huge. Running from a contract gone bad, from the law looking for an escapee, and two-stepping through love is enough to put a person on edge, but what’s a crew to do when they realize the “crazy” person may be right?
This started a little slow for me, but once it got going I knew I would buy the rest of the series, should there be more books. No doubt at all. These are the best new characters of 2015 for me.
The Most Intricate Power Play
Rebellion: Alien Attachments #2 by Sabine Priestley
War is coming, and the two people who are irresistibly drawn to each other but want nothing to do with each other hold the fate of a world in their hands and the ripples could change the galaxy.
Ria is an Earth Protector and ex-Sandarian soldier. On leave, she visits a vacation planet with her friends, and longs to find the one person whose psychic powers are so compatible with hers that they’ll fall in love. And she does. But then the crap starts to hit the fan and what seems like a simple love story races into a complex dark mystery that ensnares the planet of Mitah, and possibly the galaxy itself.
Ty is a Curzan, dubbed sub-human by Mitah’s ruling class. Orphaned when a Sandarian military officer murdered his parents, Ty hates all Sandarians, until he meets a small, spunky ex-soldier and has to rethink his world view.
But the world doesn’t wait for love and the political schemes of the greedy only get deeper and deeper, sucking Ria and Ty in until they have to act.
I fell for the world the most in this story. Just when it seems they can solve the issues, another layer is revealed. The plot is complex and the world is rich.
Funniest Nerdgirl Love Affair
Gray Card by Cassandra Chandler
Evelyn adores space so much she has hand-painted planets hanging in her bedroom and a PhD in Astronomy to indulge her dreams. Dating Adam had been another dream, but one he just found out will end in three days. Time for extreme measures. Evelyn suggests they go for the Green Card. Marry so he can stay in the country. Problem is, he’s an alien on shore leave from the military of a very advanced civilization with strict rules about primitives. What could possibly go wrong?
This story is fun and funny. Evelyn is normal, spunky and sweet. Adam is gorgeous and charming. The sex is hot, the laughs are fast, the resolution is satisfying.
The “Why Isn’t This a Movie?” Series
The Phoenix Adventures by Anna Hackett
Indiana Jones in space. With hot romance. The Phoenix brothers are a trio of smart, hunky guys with various talents and personalities that mesh, not always easily, as they hunt down the galaxy’s treasures in a mile-a-minute maze of danger. Fast and fun, adventure, humor, hot sex, action and intrigue. The series has it all. Cyborgs, conspiracies, zombies, Phoenix cousins, mad bombers, you name it, it’s probably there somewhere. Solidly written, excellent characters and it doesn’t have to be read in order, but of course that makes the little things jump out more. Every volume in this series leaves me wishing it was a movie. Who do I need to give a winning lotto ticket to make this into a movie series?