Author: Aleksandr Voinov
Length: 25,600 words
Genre: m/m Science Fiction Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Injured Character, Space Travel, Aliens, Otherworlds
Rating: Me Like
**This review contains a few spoilers**
Fighting with your back to the wall is all well and good—as long as you’ve chosen the right wall.
When the local authorities ask Kyle Juenger to hunt a shape-shifting Glyrinny spy, he can’t refuse. After all, he can use the reward to replace his paralyzed legs with cyberware, and maybe even to return to his home planet. Besides, he hates the morphs—those invasive, brain-eating monstrosities whose weapons cost him his legs.
Kyle’s best lead is the Scorpion, a mercenary ship armed to the teeth. Grimm, the Scorpion’s pilot and captain, fascinates Kyle. He’s everything Kyle lost with his legs, and he’s from the same home world. He’s also of the warrior caste—half priest, half savior. But Grimm’s been twisted by life as a merc, and Kyle’s stuck undercover as a criminal on the run.
That doesn’t stop Grimm from coming on to Kyle, or from insisting he’s more than the sum of his past and his useless legs. But Kyle has other concerns—like tracking a dangerous morph who could be wearing anyone’s face. And as if things weren’t complicated enough, Kyle can’t tell if Grimm is part of the solution . . . or part of the problem.
Kyle is an ex-hunter and ex-pilot of the Navy, recently forcibly retired by his injuries. He has no feeling from the waist down and can only walk with the use of prosthetics. He’s broke on his decommissioned salary and needs the large sum of money, or opportunity to travel to a planet with cheaper cyberware, to get the technology that would allow him to walk, fight, and blend in with the rest of humanity. His chance comes when he’s given one last job of hunting a Glyrinny double agent. The money would get him off world and fix him up, but it also serves his deep rooted anger at the loss of his old life, when he was shot with a Glyrinny weapon that his race doesn’t understand how to properly cure.
I have to admit that I’ve read little of Voinov’s work. His books are always ones that I mean to read, and I have many of them, but I’ve only read a few. I’m always happy with the level of detail and world building, and I really like the ambiguity of his characters, prone to embody the villain with a core of morality, unafraid to pursue their cause while bucking the system. There’s a fearlessness about that we can connect with. It allows us our natural attraction to bad boys but gives us all of their redeeming qualities, and like secretly rooting on a vigilante and appeasing our desire to be vicariously brave and at the same time reckless.
There’s a lot of room in these character for character growth, and while most of this story satisfied me, the ending felt a bit short to me. Perhaps, as readers, we don’t like when a character wants to give up, or does. I felt like I understood Kyle, and I even understood the impulse that death, death in bliss, would be an improvement upon his life. He hasn’t been injured long and he’s still got a lot of issues that might slowly resolve with time and getting used to life without his legs. On the other hand, I was waiting for him to turn around and give a little fight. I wasn’t quite so sure he would really accept the situation at the end of the story. It still felt a bit unresolved to me and I would have really liked to see his journey from that point on, especially with his new knowledge of himself and those around him. Was he really that untethered from his own race and his life? Or was that just post-trauma?
This is still a great example of Voinov’s work, and fans of the author will definitely want to read this, as well as any SciFi fan. I definitely liked it and would recommend it.