Buy Link: A Chip in His Shoulder
Author: L.A. Witt
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Length: Novella

Rating: 4.75

I am not usually a big science fiction reader but I wanted to give this a try because it is written by L.A. Witt and I would happily read a grocery list if she wrote it.  And I am so glad I picked it up because this is a fabulously created world and a super exciting story.

A Chip in His Shoulder is set in a futuristic time when the uber-wealthy folks live in the rarified world of the cities in the Sky.  Most are technology and cybernetics folks who created “mods” that allow the wealthy to adapt their bodies in all kinds of ways – enhanced senses, improved healing, built in computers, etc.  Toiling down below in the Gutter are the poor folks, many of whom work in the factories that build these mods that keep the wealthy on top and the poor suffering.  The Gutter is smog-filled (fans pushing air down from the Sky ensure that), filled with desperate poverty and much danger.

Our story opens with vampire Liam on his way to commit a murder-for-hire. The target? His ex-boyfriend Daniel Harding. Even more surprising is that the man ordering the hit is Daniel’s own father Richard.  Although Liam used to live life in the luxurious world of the Sky, the situation surrounding his breakup with Daniel sent him on a downward spiral into the Gutter and he is still recovering.  Desperation turned him into an assassin, and a desire for revenge on Daniel led him to accept this particular job.

When we meet Liam he is confident, certain he knows exactly what is going on and that he is in total control.  Yet from the moment he encounters Daniel he realizes things are not at all what they seem.  Much more is going on than he realized and suddenly Liam and Daniel are on the run for their lives. The men must put their past behind them and learn to trust each other again if they have any hope of surviving.

First off, let me say this book kept me on the edge of my seat.  The action starts almost right away and keeps going throughout the book.  Not just physical action, but also the tension between Daniel and Liam as they confront each other for the first time in five years.  The story was quite exciting and kept me frantically flipping pages.

Also, the world building worked really well for me. As I mentioned, I sometimes have trouble with science fiction, mostly because I get overwhelmed in the details and rules of the society (I have this need to understand everything and tend to let myself get bogged down).  But except for a few small exceptions, I had no problem visualizing this world and understanding what was going on right from the beginning.  I think Witt does a great job of creating world with a clear dichotomy between the wealthy and poor and showing how little hope the Gutter dwellers have when faced with the wealthy and powerful of the Sky.

And I really liked both Liam and Daniel.  Yes, even Liam despite him being a super-modified vampire assassin (or maybe that made me like him all the more!).  We can see clearly how Liams’s actions are born out of his hurt and desperation and that underneath all of that he is good guy who still loves Daniel.  And Daniel is a bit of a futuristic Robin Hood, working to undermine his father and the other tycoons who seek to keep themselves rich and powerful at the expense of the poor.

Witt plans a sequel for A Chip on His Shoulder and I can not WAIT to see how the story plays out.  This book leaves us with a nice resolution on their relationship and a clear plan for their future, but we have definitely been set up for more excitement.  I highly recommend this story and am looking forward to seeing where Witt takes Liam and Daniel in the future.

Cover rating: A+
Ok, not only is it gorgeous, but it so perfectly depicts the world of the story exactly as it is described.  That is a rare combination folks.  Great job!

Note: Witt will be here at the blog tomorrow to chat more about the story and will be giving away one of her backlist books to a lucky commenter.  So be sure to stop back in!