Title: Aliens, Smith and Jones
Author: Blaine D Arden
Publisher: Storm Moon Press
Length: 75k words
Genre: m/m Science Fiction
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between (many scenes are fade to black)
Keywords/Tags: Aliens, HEA, Secret Agents, Organized Crime
Rating: Pretty Good
Connor Smith works for Primrose, an organization tasked with monitoring and tracking aliens and alien technology. It’s a job that doesn’t know the meaning of “nine-to-five”. It also doesn’t leave much room for a social life, a complication that Connor hasn’t minded, until now. At the prodding of his best friend, Connor reluctantly puts himself back in the dating pool, even though it means lying about his remarkable life.
Elsewhere, Noah Jones has led a remarkable life of his own. Stranded on Earth in 1648, Noah was forced to transform himself permanently into human form to survive. He soon learned that in doing so, he’d become effectively immortal, aging only at a glacial pace. Alone, with no way to contact his people or return home, Noah becomes a silent observer of human civilization—always in the world, but never of the world. Then, hundreds of years later, he sees a face in a crowd and instantly feels a connection that he thought he’d never feel again. But he’s too late: Connor’s already taken.
Destiny is not without a sense of humor, though, and the two men are pulled inexorably closer, snared by the same web of dangers and conspiracies. Worse, Primrose is now aware of Noah, and they aren’t ones to leave an alien unrestrained. So while Connor struggles to understand the strange pull he feels toward Noah, forces without as well as within are working against them to keep them apart.
Connor is an agent of Primrose and the PA of a well-known lieutenant within the organization. He’s worked hard at his job, doing detective work in the office and field finding aliens and alien artifacts, and the fact that he was handpicked for his job and works well with his very picky boss shows how well regarded he is by his colleagues. He works strange hours, just like regular detectives, which leaves little time for a love life. His best friend Isa, also a Primrose agent under a different team, is constantly trying to set him up… if only Isa was a good judge of character, or even a relatively competent matchmaker.
Connor is surprised and pleased when Isa sets him up with the perfect guy, Jason. Their relationship is steadily progressing as Connor’s work duties pile up. The whole organization has been working tirelessly for months trying to figure out why their search for alien artifacts has been recently returning empty handed, and where some of the aliens are disappearing to. On top of his dating life with Jason and the work that is always on his mind, Connor starts to feel as if he’s being stalked. He’s almost certain of it when he starts to feel a strange sensation of another being entering his mind.
For the most part, this was a thoroughly satisfying read. Though the situations thrust upon Connor are quite serious and the danger often very high, the tone of the story is light, and combined with the subject matter, somewhat reminiscent of the movie MIB (Men in Black). The story is quite different, however, not limited to the addition of the romance in this story. In addition, the case that Primrose is trying to solve, with Connor thrust into the middle, is engaging. There are really two cases at the heart of the story, the wider investigation by Primrose into the missing aliens and artifacts and the case of the man stalking Connor. It is easy to guess from the beginning that they’re somehow connected, and while the overall outcome was no real surprise to me, the details of it were satisfying enough for me to become increasingly engaged with the progression of the case. Added together, it made the story very easy to become involved in, without an overly intricate plot.
An important part of the progression of the story is the link between the characters and the cases, and I was happy to see that play out with little previous information about how they’re all connected. So, I don’t really want to get into a character analysis, lest I give anything away. Without getting into that, this is the part of the story that I had wished had gone in a bit of a different direction, because I found myself wishing that the central couple would have gotten more on page time to spend together. The time they do have together is often used to explore their psychic connection, which by nature is best shown while they’re apart. I would have liked to see them spend more time together in addition to that. Much of the second half of the book seemed devoted to the resolution to the cases, rather than exploring their relationship while together. The story doesn’t take this to the extreme, or ignore their relationship, but I still wished that they had more time to get to know one another (there’s a reason for this in the story, but I wasn’t quite sure that the idea of it translated through words to it’s best benefit).
This doesn’t seem to be a planned series, but the world created and the resolution of the story seem perfect for a sequel. I’d like to see one, because I enjoyed this story and world so much, and I would like to get to know some of the characters even better. This is the first story I’ve read by this author, and it won’t be the last. This author made some choices in the plot and the writing that I didn’t expect but had impact and intrigued me to read more of her work. I have been looking forward to reading this book for the last few months, and I have to say that I feel it mostly lived up to my expectations. Sometimes the greatest part about being a reader is when a book is so easy to just fall into to pass the time, and the tone of this story in combination with the world allowed me to do that. So I’m pleased