Beyond the Rain, by Jess Granger

>> Monday, July 26, 2010

TITLE: Beyond the Rain
AUTHOR: Jess Granger

PAGES: 336
PUBLISHER: Berkley Trade

SETTING: Space, mostly, and some alien worlds
TYPE: Sci-fi / futuristic
SERIES: Followed by Beyond the Shadows.

REASON FOR READING: Good buzz, plus, it's sci-fi romance, that favourite and unrepresented subgenre.the sci-fi romance.

In a universe torn apart by civil war, a warrior and a slave must fight for their lives and a love that may destroy them both.

After five years behind enemy lines, Captain Cyani has to complete one final mission before she can return to Azra-a planet ruled by a sisterhood of celibate warriors. Along the way she finds a prisoner, chained and beaten-but radiating feral power and an unbroken spirit.

For years Soren has endured torture as his captors leeched his very essence, a unique hormone then sold as a sexual narcotic in the shadow trade. Now he has been freed from slavery by a beautiful warrior woman with radiant blue eyes.

After years in bondage, Soren's hormones are so unbalanced that he will die if he does not mate with a woman. Can Cyani be the woman he needs to survive, or will this forbidden bond destroy them?
As the book begins, our heroine, Captain Cyani, is on her final mission, after which she'll be able to retire from a career she never seeked out or even liked. So, as anyone who's ever read a book or watched a film with a character who's about to retire could predict, things are about to go pear-shaped.

They do when after rescuing a group of her fellow soldiers from an enemy vessel, her pet (who helps out in their missions) detects another prisoner and refuses to leave him. There's no time for Cyani to get this man and get back to her ship, but she can't leave her pet there, as her collar holds information that should not get into enemy hands. Cyani ends up stranded with the prisoner, and they must make their escape from the enemy ship together.

And it gets even more complicated, because the prisoner is no ordinary man. Soren is from a planet where the males produce a very special hormone when in contact with their mates. It's because of this hormone that the baddies have been keeping Soren prisoner: they've been using their technology in order to force him to produce the hormone, which they then harvest to manufacture an expensive drug. The problem is, because of what he's been through, Soren's only way of keeping his body to shut down is to get it to produce the hormone again. And that means either going back to what his captors were doing, or establishing the mating bond with someone...

Oh, dear. I'd heard good things about this one, otherwise I would have kept far, far away from the must-have-sex-or-die cliche. I should have, anyway. There were some interesting things here, especially the culture-clash and miscommunication based on incomplete information. However, other than that all I got was a ho-hum, tedious plot and characters that never completely gelled.

Cyani was just a mass of contradictions. Is she a warrior, really? She doesn't act like one. And why would she want to return to her horrible, unjust home world at all, when the powers that be there treat her like crap and always have? And Soren was a mystery till the end. I never really understood his reactions.

In a word: disappointing.

MY GRADE: A very average C.


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