Friday, January 31, 2014

2nd Annual SFR Galaxy Awards: Round Six by Charlee Allden

Most Addictive Characters
Caught in Amber - Cathy Pegau (Carina Press)

In Caught in Amber, Cathy Pegau takes the drama of the criminal highlife and its ugly underbelly to the future and a remote earth colony.  The characters that populate this tale are the kind that sticks with you long after the read is done. From the courageous recovering addict heroine to the emotionally torn hero to the seductive drug lord, these characters come to life on the page with a richness that places the novel at the top of my recommended reading list.

2nd Annual SFR Galaxy Awards: Round Five by Donna S. Frelick

Best Hearth-and-Home Novel
Cottonwood - R.Lee Smith (A Red Hot Romance Novel)

The Last Hour of Gann might have garnered all the attention last year, but Smith’s companion tale of a concentration camp romance between an alien stranded on Earth and the idealistic “social worker” assigned to him resonated more with me. Smith explains in her own afterword that she conceived of the two books at the same time. In the first, “we go there”.  In the second, “they come here”, the signal aspect of most “hearth-and-home” novels.

In this case, much like my favorite H&H story, THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, the heroine must protect the aliens from her fellow humans, who seek to exploit them and their technology in every way possible. In the beginning, Sarah is na├»ve and easily manipulated by her employer, the owner of the worldwide network of camps confining the “bugs” who have crash-landed on Earth. But like generations of development workers before her, once she is over her culture shock, her innate sense of justice and compassion give her courage.

Then there is Sanford. And his son. Yes, it is a joke, played by some insensitive official whose job it was to give the aliens pronounceable human names. Sanford was a soldier; now he scrounges for reparable electronics in the Heaps (a garbage dump) to keep his little family alive.

These two unlikely characters make a connection in the squalor of the Cottonwood camp in Kansas. And once Sarah’s eyes are open, she can never go back to sleep again.

If you like your SFR long and deep enough to sink your teeth into, your ET’s truly alien and your romance built on something more than just sexual attraction, this is the one for you. (And, as a former PeaceCorps Volunteer, I have to say I LOVED this one!)

2nd Annual SFR Galaxy Awards: Round Four by Laurie A. Green

Outstanding Debut Story
The Stranger - Kyndra Hatch (Tales From the SFR Brigade anthology)

There are so many things to love about this short--but very powerful--SFR, the first published work by debut author Kyndra Hatch. It takes place amid a terrible war with an alien species, centering on a battle worn soldier who has sacrificed everything for her cause. This tale of survival artfully blends high stakes, suspense, mystery, heartbreak, duty, and honor in a succinct mix that completely engages, and then delivers a twist that thoroughly satisfies. The Stranger is truly an outstanding debut effort by a "Next Generation" Science Fiction Romance author.

2nd Annual SFR Galaxy Awards: Round Three by Marlene Harris

Capes Optional Award (Most Fun Superhero Romance)
Seductive Powers - Rebecca Royce (Fated Desires Publishing)

Seductive Powers covers two SFR tropes with its fantastic and fun “Cape”. First, it’s a superhero romance, and second it's a geek romance. That’s two hits in one. One of the things I loved about Seductive Powers was that the worldbuilding hits you with just how much sense it makes? How do superheroes hold down a job? And how do they keep their secret identity and real-life organized? What if Superman forgot to take off his “Clark Kent” glasses? (Where does he find a phone booth these days?)

So I loved the concept, and the story was an absolute blast. In a world where superheroes are an open secret, what if you could hire one? And they had a company just like anyone else? Wouldn’t people resent having to pay for a rescue? There were so many possibilities to play with, but at the heart of this story, we have a superhero and his personal assistant, who may not have super powers but is super at keeping her boss organized. But his super-enemy has set his sights on anyone close to superhero Draco Powers, and Wendy Warner is a lot closer than she thinks.

2nd Annual SFR Galaxy Awards: Round Two by Heather Massey

Best Non-Western Setting in an Erotic Steampunk Romance
Rajasthani Moon – Lisabet Sarai (Total-E-Bound)

Rajasthani Moon is one of those books that I didn't know just how much I needed until I read it. I'd been interested in reading more multicultural/interracial sci-fi romances and an author I know dropped this ebook into my lap at the right time. Granted, this story is more accurately labeled as erotic steampunk with romantic elements (and the author herself labels it as "multi-genre erotic romance" on her site), but the story does end with a Happily For Now. So the basics are there. :)

The plot is about an agent for the Queen who experiences highly erotic encounters during a mission to an alternate history India, but the real star of this story is the setting, characters, and all the great details that truly transport the reader to another world. The celebration of men and women of color in this tale is amazing. Rajasthani Moon titillates on multiple levels!

This story prompted me to seek out other stories by Lisabet Sarai. Her short story "Green Cheese" is also fun, erotic, and quirky, with a Siam setting and a hero whose name is " Ruangkornpongpipat Suriyarasamee"—how cool is that?! Rajasthani Moon was one of my favorite discoveries of the year and I'll be sure to keep an eye out for more sci-fi romance/steampunk from Ms. Sarai.

2nd Annual SFR Galaxy Awards: Round One by Anna McLain

The Geeky Fun Award
Tin Cat - Misa Buckley (Champagne Books)

A studly Cyborg dressed as Blade, a smart wheelchair-bound heroine, comics, a time traveling bank robber, and an android cat. How fun is that? Throw them all together and you get a fast, fun, romantic story with a twist. Amber Gerald has no idea the comic book turns her life will take when she rescues a stray cat with a secret. In walks sexy Hunter Gray and the fun begins. What impressed me most about this story was that the heroine was accepted as she was, without the need to change her. The hero loved her, faults and all. This story made me feel really good and the title's nod to Dr. Who made this geek girl really happy. Tin Cat for the Most Geeky Fun.

Welcome To The 2nd Annual SFR Galaxy Awards!

It's time for the 2nd Annual SFR Galaxy Awards!

On January 31, you’ll discover which science fiction romance books and films from 2013 made a lasting impression on the judges. (For complete information about the Awards, click here.)

Among the winners, you’ll encounter a wide selection of sci-fi romance stories. Each award description has a personalized touch, going beyond the title in order to provide helpful information about the stories.
The awards will be posted throughout the day for a total of six posts, so stay tuned!