In Enemy Hands is sci-fi romance hybrid filled with adventure, suspense and some spiffy tech speak alongside a developing romance. The sci-fi romance subgenre is slowly growing and I'm always jazzed to see new additions to the library.
The book starts in the past with Moon's old research partner as they work for the republic. As with many great SF stories, there are rebels working outside of the republic and Moon gets a surprise when she finds out a secret her partner is hiding. Needless to say, she is left holding the back and suffers years of interrogation and life when she held for crimes she didn't commit. Later, she is sent to work on another vessel where she meets her new research partner, Srin, a literal living calculator who also loses his memory every two days in a restart to keep him under control. Moon is fighting her attraction to Srin and is heartbroken every time she has to restart their meeting. Srin's mind is completely wiped...or is it?
Full review right after the jump
Firstly, can I just say how much I love love love Moon and Srin. With Moon, I loved that she was a woman of color and a sympathetic, brilliant scientist. Although her cultural background isn't identified, I didn't mind at all. I love that she was described as having brown skin with kinky hair and was beautiful. Srin even described her being different from his previous love. I didn't like the assault she suffered in the beginning considering it's a pet peeve of mine whenever women are hurt in such a way. It slowed my reading in the story down even though I can understand why it was put in.
With Srin, ah Srin. I loved Srin. Normally romance touts alpha heroes for their leading men and Srin, although a strong character in his own right, may be classified as beta, although I don't think that's quite accurate either. He was genuine. A complex man who had a past, a life, a love and had it all taken away for his abilities in how he can be used by a bigger machine.I was rooting for Srin and Moon and was heartbroken every time Srin had his memory taken away from him.
I also have to say I love the technical bits that made this tale authentically sci-fi. Most sci-fi romances gloss over the technical aspects and just put the magic woo woo with a bit of technobabble and I'm left scratching my head and wishing for more. Ms. Augustin went all out with her research to make the republic and the science feel so real. I loved that. I always look for techie goodness in my SF and was jazzed to see it here.
On the romance end, I was glad it took time to develop and there wasn't a forced attraction right from the beginning. Although this may be billed as a sci-fi romance, I may have to shift it into erotica territory. The sex scenes are explicit, including a scene of self pleasuring, and I felt it knocked the story off its axis during these scenes where it screeched to a halt. I'm not really a fan of explicit sex scenes and here where character development and the attraction is mostly sweet, it feels like the sexual aspects came out of nowhere and fell into TMI territory.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed the story development and I REALLY enjoyed the characters which were a joy to follow. The diversity was a wonderfully pleasant surprise and the adventure was fun to follow. I look forward to reading more SFR like this, although preferably with love scenes on a more sweeter scale.
This review is based on a galley received by NetGalley courtesy of the publisher.
In Enemy Hands is now available in digital format.