Most Satisfying Conclusion to a Great Trilogy
Vortex of Crimson (On Deception's Edge #3) by Lise MacTague
Vortex of Crimson follows the ongoing adventures of heroines Jak Stowell and Tori Ivanov. The first two books are Depths of Blue and Heights of Green. The third book raises the stakes to new heights with its mix of danger, suspense, and lots of action.
Here are a few elements that make this book (and the trilogy as a whole) stand out:
The majority of the story's ensemble cast is kickass women with a huge range of skills and abilities. I loved that the more virtual pages I flipped, more new female characters appeared. Given the abysmal representation of female characters in various visual mediums, knowing I can turn to a book like Vortex of Crimson for my grrrl power craving is highly satisfying.
Like the first two books, Vortex of Crimson tackles a number of social and political issues. For example, the issue of the patriarchy and its negative impact on women. This is a no-holds-barred take on the toxic beliefs and institutions that are intent on denying women equal rights. This is especially relevant to Jak's character since she's a woman caught between two worlds.
Along with the first two books, Vortex of Crimson has military details that, to this layperson, feel really well-researched and authentic. It's one of the best examples of sci-fi romance with military elements that I've read.
The romance between Jak and Tori is adorable! It offers plenty of angst and at times it seemed like Fate was conspiring to keep them apart forever. The trilogy follows both their courtship as well as their efforts to negotiate a new, permanent relationship. All of the above and more left me sighing in happiness after finishing this amazing book.
Best Sci-Fi Romance Webcomic
Flesh Machine by Michael Avolio
Michael Avolio's Flesh Machine's is still in progress as of this writing, and at this point there's no guarantee of an HEA between the hero and heroine, but I still love it and am glad I discovered it.
The story takes place on far-future, non-Earth worlds and features an interracial couple: Lucy Olmos, a mechanic-turned-fighter pilot, and Seiji Dequier, a brigadier in the Interplanetary Watch. They team up to battle guerillas who are making life dangerous for innocent civilians.
Lucy and Seiji’s courtship is so sweet and tender it'll melt in your mouth. A certain plot twist throws their burgeoning relationship into forbidden romance territory. The love scenes are artfully depicted and include lots of sensuous detail. My favorite parts are the times Lucy and Seiji look at each other with love and affection.
Flesh Machine updates Tuesdays and is free to read. Interested readers can help support Michael Avolio's work by donating to his Mutineer Studio.
Most Dapper Heroes
The Clockwork Menagerie by Elliot Cooper
There's only one thing better than a dapper gentleman in a steampunk romance story, and that's two dapper gentlemen who fall in love!
Clement Dyer makes amazing clockwork animals and fears his former lover and current rival, Duke Goodwin, will destroy his business. No matter what's happening or what they're doing, Clement and Duke are dapper! This short story packs a lot of sweetness and angst in their enemies-to-lovers/reunited lovers romance. Also recommended for readers who love clockwork cats!
Most Uplifting Sci-Fi Romances
Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time by Cherie Dimaline, Gwen Benaway, David Robertson, Richard Van Camp, Mari Kurisato, Nathan Adler, Daniel Heath Justice, Darcie Little Badger, Cleo Keahna; introduction by Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair "Manitowapow," foreword by Grace Dillon "Walking the Clouds"; edited by Hope Nicholson
First, a description of this anthology:
“Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time is a collection of indigenous science fiction and urban fantasy focusing on LGBT and two-spirit characters. These stories range from a transgender woman undergoing an experimental transition process to young lovers separated through decades and meeting in their own far future. These are stories of machines and magic, love and self-love.”
Three of the stories have a distinct SFR feel and the others hold appeal for SFR readers as well. The stories entranced me and taught me a few things along the way. After reading this anthology, I felt good and, well, uplifted! Love Beyond Body, Space, and Time is an example of diversity, authentic representation, and inclusion done right.
SFR with the Most Relevant Social Commentary Regarding a Current Affair
Gambit (Felig Chronicles #5) by P.J. Dean
Shortly before reading P.J. Dean's Gambit, the latest installment in the author's alien invasion series, I had read The Verge's "Criminal Charges," an article about the "predatory monopoly" of prison phones. Lo and behold, I discovered that part of Gambit addresses issues related to the private corrections industry in the United States.
Mind. Immediately. Blown.