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Romance and other things

Fun scifi

Chaos Station - Kelly Jensen, Jenn Burke

REVIEW ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT DA.

 

I PURCHASED THE BOOK.

 

Book One of Chaos Station

“You’re not real. Felix Ingesson is dead.”

The war with the alien stin is over, but Felix Ingesson has given up on seeing his lover, Zander Anatolius, ever again. Zander’s military file is sealed tighter than an airlock. A former prisoner of war, Felix is attempting a much quieter life keeping his ship, the Chaos, aloft. He almost succeeds, until Zander walks on board and insists that Felix isn’t real.

A retired, broken super soldier, Zander is reeling from the aftereffects of his experimental training and wants nothing more than to disappear and wait for insanity to claim him. Then he sees footage of a friend and ally—a super soldier like him—murdering an entire security squad with her bare hands and a cold, dead look in her eyes. He never expected to find Felix, the man he’d thought dead for years, on the ship he hired to track her down.

Working with Felix to rescue his teammate is a dream come true…and a nightmare. Zander has no exit strategy that will leave Felix unscathed”or his own heart unbroken.

75,000 words

Dear Jen Burke and Kelly Kensen,

I bought your book for two reasons. First, I love SFF books and if they also have gay romance I am even happier, second I saw that Deborah Nemeth edited it, so even though I hadn’t heard of you before, I bought it because her name usually is a sign that the book will be well edited. I was not disappointed at all except for the guys’ nicknames. They were annoying.

The book is space opera romance – for me anyway. We have some great action sequences, but the romance storyline is front and center too. We meet Zed when he is trying to hire the captain and crew of Chaos to track down his friend and former comrade Emma, because apparently she needs his help. Captain Elias is at first reluctant and suspicious, but Zed offers a *whole lot of money* and Elias, who is a kind hearted man despite being suspicious, sees that Zed really wants to help his friend. And there is a whole lot of money and the ship needs repairs and they need money. So Elias agrees and takes Zed on board with him.

While he is on “Chaos” Zed aka Loop is due for more than a little surprise. Apparently one of the members of four people’s crew (and captain’s partner in the financial sense) is Felix aka Fixer aka Flick. Do you see what I mean about annoying nicknames? Apparently both Felix and Zed (I cannot call him Loop, I am sorry, I would much rather call him Zander, but because he is called Zed for the most part of the book I would try to stick with that name) and Emma whom Zed is trying to help were together in the military academy then during the war their paths diverged. During the war with one of the alien races Zed and Emma went one way and Felix went another way. (The war is interesting because humans stepped in to help another alien race that seemed to be an initial victim of the alien Stin’s aggression, but then the aggression was turned against humans. At some point Felix was presumed to be a prisoner of war and then he was presumed to be dead, so when Zed first sees him he thinks Felix is not real. Why he thinks he sees something which is not real will be revealed later in the book.

“Zed stared at the man staring at him. It was wrong, all wrong. His hair was too long, too blond; his green eyes too bright, too close to a neon shade rather than the gentle, calming hazel Zed stared into more than once. This man’s nose had been broken and his face scarred. It wasn’t him.

Felix Ingesson.

It couldn’t be him. He’d know, wouldn’t he? Someone would’ve told Zed, would’ve hurdled the secrecy surrounding his status in the AEF or hunted him down after the war, despite his refusal to carry a wallet or communicate with anyone – because if Felix Ingesson was alive…

But no one had. So Felix wasn’t”

After this interesting first meeting and continuously “interesting” communications with the crew, Zed eventually tells them most of his secrets and they fully commit to helping him. Of course the fact that both Zed and Felix (sorry no Flick for me either, I get why the Fixer makes sense, but I will stick with Felix) look at each other as if they cannot be without each other both complicated some things and made other things easier. I enjoy watching the guys reconnect and for the most part their interactions made sense to me. They had not seen each other for nine years and even though they had only been with each other as lovers for few days, they clearly never forgot each other. Personally for me being with each other for few days and then apart for years does not often work well as an unforgettable love story, but both men had been friends for years before that, so I could see how they would always remember; they had been very close to each other before they became lovers. I also liked how, despite their love for each other, their reconnection was one step forward and two steps back because of the things each went through during the war. The things Zed went through are not necessarily what you may imagine based on the blurb, which hints at his super soldier training. I will let you find out on your own what exactly that training entailed.

The action story was a lot of fun and the resolution would be a huge spoiler so I will not talk about it. Instead, I will talk about how much I loved the female characters in the story. The four-members crew of “Chaos” has two female characters (pilot and doctor) and they were well fleshed out and fully integrated in the story. I really liked both Nessa and Qek. I cannot talk much about Emma, although I liked her story too. I just want to note that “helping Emma” did not mean that this was about saving a “damsel in distress” at all, this was about Zed going to help his sister and comrade in the same way he would have for any soldier he commanded during the war.

I knew before I started the book that this is the first book in a series, and I have already preordered Book Two, which is out in May. I want to note that I liked how this book leaves several interesting hints to be developed further (besides Zed’s situation) while still leaving the men in a pretty good place and together.

Grade B.