While I often read children's fantasy and science fiction novels, I seldom select science fiction or fantasy romances. Am I prejudiced? Perhaps...or maybe I just never found the right author - until now!
I have been assimilated and Susan Grant's novel Sureblood: A Tale of the Borderlands is to blame. This weekend I raced through her story so quickly I'm surprised my Nook didn't catch fire.
The tale is set in the Borderlands of the Universe, where pirate clans clash with each other while raiding those that steal from their lands. Valeeya Blue has a lot to prove, both as a female raider and as the daughter of the clan captain. During her first raid as skiff commander, she boards a ship only to find that a rival clan, the Surebloods, has also decided to help themselves to the bounty. The Surebloods are led by their own young captain, Dake, and the sparks immediately start to fly between the handsome raider and the captivating she-pirate.
The Blues and the Surebloods band together to escape a third enemy, which starts them down the bumpy road to clan unity. During a celebration that follows, Dake and Val follow through with the desire that has been quickly building since they met. Evil plots have been set in motion and, while they are indisposed, Val's father is assassinated.
Instantly, the Blues blame the Surebloods, the fragile peace starts to crumble, and Val's life is forever changed. Dake leaves to help find out the truth behind the attack, but fails to contact Val in the months that follow. She becomes clan captain and soon after becomes a new mother, too.
What Val doesn't know is that Dake enduring the worst hell a pirate can imagine, but he never forgets his Blue girl and vows to return to her and to restore peace to all the clans. Will he return in time to help forge peace? Will Val believe in his innocence or has she found love with another?
The pacing in this story was top-notch and I found it difficult to put the story down or to let it out of my mind. Just as I would catch my breath after a tension filled scene, the story would careen into another dangerous section. The elements of foreboding woven throughout added to the suspense, as did the evil villain present throughout the novel.
The world was believable and easily imagined and I enjoyed the subtle physical and cultural differences between the clans. The perspective switched from Val to Dake (and sometimes others) and I believe that adds a little more depth to each character. The characters themselves suffer hardships that make you hurt for them and hope that things will, somehow, work out in the end.
This was another title from the Harlequin's Big Summer Reads (thanks HQN for the ARCs!). As a side note, even in the world of eBooks, cover art is still important. The stylistic cover immediately caught my attention. I look forward to catching up with Grant's previous novels and I am glad that my reading tastes were gently nudged in a new direction.