Note by Liza O'Connor
I've had the honor to read all the stories in this boxset. Veronica Scott's was one of my favorites. A solid 5 star!
And here's Veronica Scott!
Thanks for having me as your guest today to talk about Embrace the Romance: Pets In Space 2! I wrote my first rock star romance novella for this anthology, although of course being me I had to put a science fiction twist on it. Here’s the story summary for “Star Cruise: Songbird” and then I’ll talk a bit more about Valkyr, the pet my hero owns. Although Valkyr is more of a partner than a pet!
Blurb for Star Cruise: Songbird:
Grant Barton, a Security Officer on the Nebula Zephyr, is less than thrilled with his current assignment to guard an Interstellar singing sensation while she’s on board the ship. It doesn’t help that he and his military war bird Valkyr are dealing with their recent separation from the Sectors Special Forces and uncertainty over their future, with their own planet in ruins.
Karissa Dawnstar is on top of the charts and seemingly has it all – talent, fame, fortune and devoted fans, but behind her brave smile and upbeat lyrics she hides an aching heart. When a publicity stunt goes wrong, Karissa finds herself in the arms of the security officer assigned to protect her – and discovers a mutual attraction she can’t ignore.
Trouble continues to plague the pair, driving a wedge between them and leaving Grant certain that Karissa is in more danger than she realizes, from overzealous fans and her own management. Grant is determined to protect Karissa whether she wants his help or not. Can he discover the truth behind what’s going on before he loses Karissa or is there someone else plotting to keep them apart – permanently?
I’ve always been fascinated by the practice of falconry, and the bond between humans and magnificent raptors, so when we decided to continue our Pets in Space theme with volume 2 this year, I immediately gravitated to the idea of a man and an eagle. (I wrote a cat and an alien tribble/red panda/sort of pet for last year’s collection.).
In this excerpt my hero explains some of the background that led to his acquiring Valkyr.
“Qaazamir eagles bond at birth with their handler. That’s how we have our mental link. Actually, Valkyr bonded with my great grandfather.”
Mouth open in shock, she asked, “How old is he?”
“Two hundred or so. It was common for the birds to be passed down in the same family line. As long as the DNA of the descendants contained certain dominant markers, the bird treated each the same as his original partner. He only bonds to one human at a time, so the new handler must be present at the death of the previous owner, or very close. Of course sometimes birds were stolen by upstarts the elders hadn’t selected. Clan wars were fought over good nesting areas. An egg was the most desired dowry.” Grant smiled. “There was an entire indigenous culture on Qaazamir, rich traditions.”
“The Sectors happened. Qaazamir was colonized early on, before many of the laws and protections were developed. If the planet was discovered for the first time now, there’d be no colonization because the planet had inhabitants and the birds would still exist. My people would still exist.” He stared at the horizon. These were matters of which he normally never spoke. “But the colonists pushed the rightful owners of the planet aside, mined the rich ores, polluted the water and the ground…it’s a toxic hellhole now. In fact, what happened on Qaazamir was the primary reason the Sectors established safeguards. But by then it was too late for us. We had a dying planet. My ancestors refused to accept reality for a long time. They thought having won their case at the Sectors Supreme Court meant everything would be fine. But the corporate colonists left and the poisons remained.”
“You—you were the upstart who took the bird? Took Valkyr?”
He nodded. “I could see the way the extinction trend was going. Valkyr had passed to my great aunt and then my father. I was already in the Special Forces when he was dying of amphbagan fever, a wasting disease caused by the poisons leaching from the ground, but I got compassionate leave and made it home in time. I took Valkyr with my father’s blessing, if not that of the elders. I tried to find a female so he could mate, but by then there were no more females. The last few clutches of eggs were deformed and never hatched. I was banished in absentia for stealing Valkyr from my cousin.”
He turned his gaze on Karissa, who was leaning forward, chin resting on her hand, apparently mesmerized by his story. “My father and I felt that as long as one Qaazamir eagle flew free somewhere in the galaxy, our people, our traditions would not have perished. There are no birds and hardly any people left on Qaazamir. It’s a wasteland. The military was happy to accept Valkyr and me into the Z Command, to carry out unique missions behind enemy lines.”
Blurb for Embrace the Romance: Pets In Space 2:
The pets are back! Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, featuring twelve of today’s leading Science Fiction Romance authors brings you a dozen original stories written just for you! Join in the fun, from the Dragon Lords of Valdier to a trip aboard award-winning author, Veronica Scott’s Nebula Zephyr to journeying back to Luda where Grim is King, for stories that will take you out of this world! Join New York Times, USA TODAY, and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, M.K. Eidem, Susan Grant, Michelle Howard, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green, Sabine Priestley, Jessica E. Subject, Carol Van Natta, and Alexis Glynn Latner as they share stories and help out Hero-Dogs.org, a charity that supports our veterans!
10% of the first month’s profits go to Hero-Dogs.org. Hero Dogs raises and trains service dogs and places them free of charge with US Veterans to improve quality of life and restore independence.
Best Selling Science Fiction, Fantasy & Paranormal Romance author, as well as the “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy 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.
Seven 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 Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”