After narrowly evading arrest, Jared escapes the cops with one handcuff attached and attempts to flee the space station. When he nearly crashes into a man speaking to the press in front of a fancy ship, Jared grabs the guy to use as a hostage, intending to let him go as soon as he has escaped. But when the high tech magnetic handcuffs get accidentally activated, Jared realizes he is stuck with the man, at least until he can find someone who can separate them.
To Jared’s surprise, not only has he accidentally kidnapped someone, but it turns out to be Richard Kuiper the Seventh, heir to one of the biggest business empires around and practically prince of his own autonomous state. With the penalty for kidnapping being death, Jared knows he is in serious trouble. But fortunately for him, after the initial shock, Richard is actually pretty pleased by the turn of events. After living a life of rigid control and constant scrutiny, Richard is excited for the chance to break free of the every day and explore the world a bit. So he agrees to do whatever he can to keep Jared out of jail in return for some time traveling together.
The men are attracted to each other right away, and what starts out as some super hot sex to fill the time, begins to turn into more. As the men wait for some of Jared’s friends to disable the magnetic cuffs, they begin to get to know one another and form a close bond that neither one can really explain. But even as they are falling for each other, each man is wary. Jared assumes that Richard’s interest is only temporary, that as soon as he gets bored of the novelty of Jared he will return to his family and his role in the company. And of course a thief like Jared could never join him in that life. For his part Richard worries about his family obligations versus his desire to experience some freedom. But even more worrisome is whether he can trust Jared, who definitely seems to be hiding parts of himself from Richard.
At the same time, interstellar politics begin to cause problems as well. The Caravan where the guys are staying is inexplicably overcrowded and no one will talk about why. Richard’s company is experiencing problems with spies and political unrest from a major planet that wants a position of greater power in regards to the company. And soon things come to a head, endangering Richard’s life. Now Jared must risk both his heart and his life if he is to save the man he loves.
All right, so my regular readers are going to know right away what drew me to this book. Yes, the amazing cover. Seriously, I will read just about anything with a good PL Nunn cover. I was also intrigued by the blurb and the excerpt on the Loose Id site. The story seemed just on the right side of a wacky space adventure and I jumped right in and loved every minute.
Right from the start you know you are in for something a bit different as these guys find themselves stuck together by magnetic handcuffs that only the cops (or a really good blacksmith) can remove. Though the cuffs give them a decent range, they are pretty much stuck together for the vast majority of the story. This plot device could have gotten tiresome and annoying, but Kelly does a great job of really creatively incorporating the cuffs into the story, always remembering to integrate the fact that these guys are required to stay close together. Just small details like how when the tether is set to short range, one man walking forward or jerking his hand will affect the other. Or how when they walk through a crowd, if one walks too quickly the other gets tugged along behind. I was impressed that the author is aware of where these guys are in relation to each other throughout the whole story and keeps things clever and interesting rather than overdone.
I also think Kelly handles the world building really well. I don’t read a lot of sci fi/futuristic stuff because I sometimes struggle with needing to understand all the intricate world building right from the start and get overwhelmed. But Kelly does a great job creating the world in a way that isn’t an information dump, but also so that I could really follow what was going on (with a few small exceptions). Again, I loved the small details the author works in, like the affects of varying levels of gravity. People who are from planets tend to be used to heavier gravity, and have different builds from specific muscle use. Then there are others who live lives out in space with much lighter gravity, and are built totally differently. Kelly even plays with gravity during sex, with a couple of hot love scenes as the men experiment with sex in a zero gravity environment. I really appreciated how these small details carried throughout the story so well, making it rich and interesting.
We also get such great characters in Jared and Richard. Jared is a guy who has been on his own for years. Although he is a thief, we never really get a sense that he is a bad guy. Maybe because he is charming and funny and sexy, and everyone seems to love him. He doesn’t apologize for who he is, but at the same time he realizes that it is about time for that life to end and move onto something more reputable. He doesn’t have much in his life, but he does have a circle of friends who really care about him. In contrast we have Richard, who is all wealth and power and designer DNA. He has been raised to take over his company, something so massive it is basically like its own country. Richard jumps at the idea of a little adventure; he desperately needs to experience life away from the fame and the responsibility. I thought Richard was a fascinating guy, one I found myself feeling sorry for despite his apparent advantages. This is a guy who as a child was taught hand signals to use on video in anticipation that he would one day be kidnapped (and in fact, this is not his first trip to the kidnapping rodeo). He may be genetically perfect, but he is also not happy. So I loved watching his glee at experiencing something a little wild and crazy.
Oh, and did I mention these guys are so super hot together? In addition to the aforementioned zero gravity sex, these guys get up to some crazy stuff (OMG, the sonic shower scene? *dies*). For some reason I wasn’t quite expecting this story to be so hot, but these guys are scorching together. And again, Kelly brings in a lot of creativity here and even though there is a lot of sex, it is never routine and full of little clever details (like how zero G affects the way the guys can touch one another).
My only real negative here is that sometimes I got lost in the political side of things. Most of the world building worked great for me, but the conflict with the bad guys and the political situation went a bit over my head. Since this is the part that leads to the major crisis at the climax, I would have liked to be more clear on what was going on. I am learning to not worry when I don’t catch every detail, but I did find myself a little confused at times, especially toward the end.
So I really loved this one and it kept me excited and engaged throughout the story. This is the first book I have read by Mina Kelly and I was really impressed with the creativity and small details she brought to the book that take it out of the ordinary. This was fun and sexy and clever and I really enjoyed it. Definitely recommended.