Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Veronica Scott shares Hostage to the Stars & Liza Reviews it.

I am so pleased to have Veronica Scott over to share her latest Sci-Fi Romance: Hostage to the Stars.
And I got to review it!
Check it out...

Hostage to the Stars


Veronica Scott

He rescued her from space pirates … but can he keep them both safe from the far greater evil stalking a deserted planet?
Space travel without Kidnap & Ransom insurance? Not a good idea. University instructor and researcher Sara Bridges can’t afford it, so when pirates board her cruise liner, she’s taken captive along with the mistress of a wealthy man, and brought to a deserted planet. When a military extraction team sent to rescue the mistress refuses to take Sara too, she’s left to the mercies of a retired Special Forces soldier, along as consultant.
Reluctantly reactivated and coerced into signing up for the rescue operation to the planet Farduccir where he once was deployed,  Sgt. Johnny Danver just wants to get the job done. But when the team leader leaves one captured woman behind, he breaks away to rescue her himself.
As Johnny and Sara traverse the barren landscape, heading for an abandoned base where they hope to call Sectors Command for help, they find villages destroyed by battle and stripped of all inhabitants. A lone survivor tells a horrific tale of the Sectors’ alien enemy, the Mawreg, returning after being pushed out…
Searching for evidence to give the military, Johnny is captured. He regains consciousness in a Mawreg cage–with Sara next to him. Death is preferable to what the aliens will do to them… And even if they do escape their captors, can they alert the military in time to prevent another invasion of the Sectors?
Standalone sequel to Mission To Mahjundar (mild spoilers for Mahjundar in this story.)

Veronica Scott writes the best sci-fi romances!
One of the things I love about her books is they are not the same old story slightly disguised.
What is the same is they are well written wonderful stories.
This one might be my favorite.
I loved Johnny from the very first. When they came to reinstate his cousin into military service for an ‘easy’ mission, Johnny a) didn’t buy it being an easy mission and b) insisted he should go instead since he was single while his cousin had a wife and a child on the way.
And then there was Sara. All she had wanted was a damn vacation! But no! Pirates have to take over the ship she is on. Oddly her travel agent had failed to mention that this area of space was rife with pirates, and you needed to come loaded with ransom insurance.
Without any ransom insurance,  you can imagine how they intended to get value from a pretty young woman. And from some of Sara’s comments, they evidently did. But it’s only alluded to not seen by us. 

Two months later, Johnny arrives on the pirate’s planet, on a rescue mission to recover the Governor’s mistress. When the Governor’s woman asked if they intended to save the other woman who also was taken, Sara, Johnny ignored direct orders to forget Sara and get back to the ship. Instead the mistress with connections and the other soldiers left the planet and Johnny continued to search for the woman Sara. 
I mean seriously, how many guys would do that for a woman they have never met? 
And it’s a good thing he did, because she was about to be sold to aliens.
However, just because Johnny locates her does NOT mean they are safe, or able to leave this world.
They have no ship. They are constantly being shot at. And Johnny’s efforts to be a good soldier results in both of their near deaths. I mean seriously, they are constantly scraping by with their wits and bravery, right up to the very end of this story.
This is a ‘Put a gun to my head and I still won’t stop reading,’ book. It is non-stop action from beginning to end. But even in this frenetic pace, love occurs in a steady fashion, with authenticity. The hero and heroine are three dimensional and fabulous. I adored them both.
As much as I have loved Scott’s books before, I think I love this one the best. I would like to give it 10 stars.  In fact, I will. Naturally, Amazon will insist that I round it down to 5, but in my heart, I give it 10 beautiful quasars.

 10 quasars rounded down 5 stars for Amazon ranking

Amazon    Kobo     Apple iBooks     

Stumbling a little, Sara made her way to the passenger table, feeling exposed and vulnerable. She slid into a vacant chair next to the only other woman.
        “Hey, it’s not so bad, relax.” The woman patted her hand. “I’m Tresha Immer. I’ve seen you in the corridors.”
        Early in the cruise, Sara’d learned from the stewardess that Tresha was some kind of Sectors’ admin person, mid-level in an obscure branch of the bureaucracy. She had the single luxury suite on the ship and the crew had formerly bent over backwards to supply her slightest whim, while gossiping about her.  Apparently an influential politico with a lot of gravity didn’t appreciate her receiving less than stellar service and attention, so people rushed to do her bidding. “What’s K&R?” she asked the table at large.
        “Kidnap and ransom insurance. Did you bring your certificate?” asked the Tregon Inc. trader sitting across from her. “Do you have good coverage? These Farduccir are greedy bastards.”
        “I-I don’t have any insurance. I’ve never even heard of it before today.”
        The man shoved his chair away from the table. “The government shouldn’t allow people like you to travel in these parts. “ He shook his head. “My sympathies. Any last messages you want us to send to your family?”
        Chest tightening, ears ringing as she grew light-headed, Sara couldn’t believe what the passenger was inferring. “Are you joking?”
        “Honey, these pirates are all about the credits and they’ll get ‘em out of you one way or the other,” said the man seated next to her.
        The Star Swan’s captain entered the room with a trio of hard eyed men wearing motley uniforms and carrying blasters, followed by two more close behind. Sara sank into her chair and fought not to be sick in public. The travel agent who’d booked her passage never said anything about pirates, much less a need for special insurance.
        “All right, listen up,” said the captain, raising his hands for quiet. “You all know the drill. Warlord Umarri and his men have offloaded the cargo and I’ve transmitted our ransom request. Sit tight while Lord Umarri evaluates the passengers. We don’t want any problems and neither does he.”
        The captain escorted the pirates to the passenger table. He scanned the group, not meeting Sara’s eyes. Turning to the pirate lord, he said, “All here and accounted for, sir.”
        Umarri jerked his thumb at the table and one of his men made the circuit, checking the insurance certificates. His partner had an older model personal AI which the passengers used to transmit the ransom payment authorizations.
        It seemed to Sara the team was deliberately leaving her and Ms. Immer for last.
        Tresha duly produced her gilt-edged, impressively thick certificate. The pirate took it, scanned the text and grinned at his boss. “This is her.”
        “Excellent.” Umarri gestured and the two men grabbed Tresha by the elbows.
        “What in the seven hells do you think you’re doing?” she said, her voice raised. “My insurance is the best. I can pay the ransom, no problem.”
        “I’ve no doubt but in your case we can make much more from certain interested parties if we hold out for more credits,” Umarri said, moving around the table. He stroked her cheek, running his hand down her neck, circling it like a necklace. “We knew you’d be on this ship. You’ll be our guest on Farduccir until negotiations can be concluded, one way or the other.” He stepped aside. “Take her. Gently. She’ll be worth more undamaged.”
        One of the pirates bound Tresha’s  wrists behind her back and the two men forced her to walk away with them. Head high, she marched, not glancing at anyone. When she and her captors reached the doorway, she dug in her heels, taking them by surprise, and craned to glare over her shoulder, scanning the crowd in the cafeteria. “You’re all going to regret this.”
        Umarri, who’d remained beside the passenger table, brushed a piece of lint from his shoulder. “Pirates don’t suffer regret.”
        White around the lips, the captain said nothing.
        One of the two remaining bodyguards stepped forward, free hand extended to Sara. “Insurance cert.”
        “I don’t have any.” She tried to intimidate him into leaving her unmolested.
        “Interesting,” Umarri  purred. “Anyone who will ransom you? Employer perhaps?”
        “No.” She couldn’t think of a lie fast enough.
        The pirate’s men retreated a few feet in answer to some signal she’d missed. Umarri himself pulled her to her feet, holding her close, despite her efforts to wrench herself free. He smelled of sweat and pungent spice. “Don’t worry, pretty one, you’ll contribute your share of my profit for this trip. There are many who’ll pay to purchase one such as you.”
        He shoved her at his men, who bound her hands tightly behind her back and dragged her toward the exit.
        “Help me, please,” she said desperately, twisting in their hold, trying to catch the eyes of anyone in the room. She bumped into a table and none of the crewmen sitting there looked at her. To a person, they stared studiously at their hands. “I’m a Sectors citizen. I’m your passenger. How can you sit there and let them do this to me?”
        “These sheep realize it’s better we take you than to imprison or kill them,” said the pirate holding her left arm. “Walk or we carry you.”
        Behind her she heard the Star Swan captain say in deferential tones, “If your business is concluded, I’d like to be on my way, sir.”

Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Three time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Woman in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “City On the Edge of Forever.”
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