It's been a while again...
Author: Melissa Landers
Release date: 2nd of February 2016
Series: Starflight #1
Reading level: FICTION – JUVENILE: Sci-fi, Romance, YA
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 369 in Kindle e-book format
Source: Bought from Amazon.com for Kindle
Solara Brooks needs a fresh start, someplace where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. The outer realm may be lawless, but it's not like the law has ever been on her side.
Still, off-world travel doesn't come cheap; Solara is left with no choice but to indenture herself in exchange for passage to the outer realm. She just wishes it could have been to anyone besides Doran Spaulding, the rich, pretty-boy quarterback who made her life miserable in school.
The tables suddenly turn when Doran is framed for conspiracy on Earth, and Solara cons him into playing the role of her servant on board the Banshee, a ship manned by an eccentric crew with their own secrets. Given the price on both Doran and Solara's heads, it may just be the safest place in the universe.
It's been a long time since Solara has believed in anyone, and Doran is the last person she expected to trust. But when the Banshee's dangerous enemies catch up with them, Solara and Doran must come together to protect the ship that has become their home—and the eccentric crew that feels like family.
I live for hate to love romance, especially if it's full of awesome snappy banter, electric chemistry and heaps of reluctant, oh so reluctant, scene by scene, crawling through the mud, from hostility to genuine feelings, romance. If you add an unfair difference in social standing, which at first, ads fuel to the hate fire, and an actually likable heroine and hero to this equation as well, then the recipe for a squeal-worthy evening is guaranteed.
The story really stuck out for me with its strong space adventure and sci-fi core, which is a setting that from the get go promises a lot of close calls, chases, dangerous situations, heightened emotions, pirates? pirates!, you-never-know-if-we'll-survive-this-so-we-better-kiss-now-or-never moment possibilities -- basically it's a perfect breeding ground for an exciting emotions-all-over-the-place I-hate-you romance to thrive. No insta love here, no way! The romance is slow and develops more or less naturally. The dark, endless and mysterious background just adds depth and options. Thanks to the vastness of space, there are a million ways and places the plot can go and, luckily, there is a sequel coming up soon. It's not your typical kissy kissy love story, there is a heavy emphasis on adventure, exploring and the perils of being part of a ragtag crew of space misfits, as well.
Solana is just my kind of girl, tough, skilled, smart, down on her luck and in a point in her life, where she would do anything to escape, including tie herself to be, basically, a slave to an arrogant and self-centered trust-fund brat. Worse yet, a douche who made bullying her a pleasant pastime in school. But, in addition, to her notable mechanic skills and fast-thinking, she is also sarcastic and quick-witted, especially with Doran, which leads to some oh so mean, but oh so delicious dialogue, with both trying to out do the other. And while memory loss is more of a soap-opera plot device, it was brilliant how Solana span the explosive situation in her favor and got some well deserved revenge against Doran, all at the same time. The end destination my as well be prison or death for her, but at least she got to even the score with him just a bit. As a con, she seemed too impressive in her skills and too tortured in her past for me to completely worship her.
Yes, Doran wasn't a prince on a white horse in the beginning, quite the opposite, but he did give Solana the chance she desperately needed to start her journey towards freedom. Also, not being a noble rescuer at first, was made up to her when he took on the big bad pirate, especially for Solana. Still not a prince who fights for his princess? And, I have to admit, he took his new memory-wiped-clean position as her servant quite well too. Luckily, the deception didn't drag out and both of them had to face each other in their correct states of mind soon. And it was glorious.
Irreplaceable in fighting through the rocky path with the main couple, were the initially secretive and with their own ton of baggage, crew of the Banshee. They had pasts, colorful pasts, that have yet to be fully pulled to the light of day, and they had quirks, both annoying and adorable (Acorn was super huggable!) that made them distinct. Together they made for a colorful and it's-so-bad-it-cannot-possibly-function-but-it-surprisingly-does team.
From the not so great side, I wasn't very fond of the change in tone and pace in the end. The stakes were suddenly high again and not in an exciting fashion, but more in the forced drama category. It also got a little too soap/space operaish for my taste with the unexpected revelations, which kind of came from nowhere and didn't fit the overall picture, even though, there were mini seeds planted beforehand. It simply didn't click for me.