Lady X's Cowboy

Love in a Bottle




Chain Reaction
by Zoe Archer
(Carina Press, $3.99, R) ISBN 978-1-4268-9303-2
I was a big fan of Zoe Archer’s “Blades of the Rose” historical fantasy series. Its premise and setting were creative, and the love stories were passionate and engaging. I was eager to see what Archer would do as a follow-up, but unfortunately, I’ve been a bit disappointed by her new 8th Wing Sci-Fi e-book series. The stories are fine and the writing is capable, but there’s nothing to elevate them above the rest of the pack.

Chain Reaction is the second book in the series. Lieutenant Celene Jur is the best pilot in the 8th Wing, a group of plucky rebels fighting against the evil PRAXIS empire. In Collision Course, the book that launched the series, Celene was captured by PRAXIS, but rescued by Commander Kell Frayne and scavenger Mara Skirren. Now “Stainless Jur” is being sent on a mission to find the former 8th Winger who betrayed her. Accompanying her is Nils Calder, a brilliant engineer who is the only person with the skills to utilize the sophisticated technology needed to locate the traitor.

Celene is less than thrilled to have a “NerdWorks” guy as her backup, preferring someone who can help her fight in the confrontation she knows is coming. But Nils is no ordinary nerd. He’s smart, fit, and his motivation to protect Celene is strong – he’s worshipped her from afar for years.

The novella keeps the action moving, as Nils’ hero worship is replaced by the realization that Celene is very much a real flesh and blood woman. Archer knows how to create and maintain sexual tension between her heroes and heroines, and she doesn’t disappoint with this pair. Celene learns that Nils’ brains help him gain the advantage in battle against the most formidable opponents. She’s also pleasantly surprised to realize that he loves the real woman, not her legend. The story’s world building is basic but enjoyable, although I wish the conflict between the 8th Wing and PRAXIS was given a little more depth.

When I finished each installment of the Blades of the Rose series, I awaited the next one with eager anticipation. In contrast, I don’t feel any sense of urgency to read the next 8th Wing e-book, although if it appears on my radar screen I’ll be happy to check it out. I have a feeling that Zoe Archer has other, more promising books yet to come in her still young career.

--Susan Scribner

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