Rating: 3.5 stars
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Will is the pilot on the space ship Arillia. He loves his baby and he is determined to find a good mechanic who can keep her flying the way she should. As a cargo ship, the crew often finds themselves in scrapes with pirates and other criminals, so the ship must fly fast and steady.
When Will hires Tab as an engineer, the two men immediately set each other off. Tab is clearly a skilled mechanic, but the two men are constantly fighting and both seem to drive the other crazy. But the more time they spend together, the more the anger turns to attraction. Will and Tab slowly begin to find there is more between them than just bickering, and eventually realize that they might be really falling for one another.
So I love a good enemies to lovers story and Drew Zachary definitely gives us two men who are at odds with each other right from the start. Neither really means to, but somehow they are constantly setting each other off. There is a grudging respect for the other’s skills, but their tempers just flare when they are together. So I enjoyed seeing these guys progress over the course of the book, to soften and stop taking such easy offense, and to slowly come to really care about each other.
The problem here is that this story is pretty much two modes: fight and fuck. The first part of the book is mostly the two of them fighting as they get to know each other and work together. Most of the time I wasn’t even clear on what these guys were mad about or why. We don’t get enough understanding of their characters to see why their hackles rise so easily. So we mostly have a lot of temper flares, storming around, and angry sex. Then there is a traumatic event that happens and that brings these guys closer emotionally. After that, it is pretty much all sex all the time. Now you know I am not a girl who usually complains about too much sex in my books. But virtually nothing else happens for the entire rest of the book other than these guys having sex over and over. And over. For pages. One scene ends and another starts with no plot in between. I think Zachary can write hot sex and I have enjoyed previous stories by this author, but I just needed more to hold this story together.
I find books need either a strong plot or strong character development (or both) to really carry them along. In this case, we have only the barest framework of plot. The two guys meet, they fight, something happens that shakes them up emotionally, and then they begin having sex and more of an emotional attachment. And that is it. But we also don’t get much in the way of character development either. I never really felt that I understood Will. We know he has been used and carelessly treated by men in his past, but we don’t learn any specifics, nor do we learn much about why he was so willing to accept guys who treat him like crap. It is just the vaguest back story with no development. Beyond that, we learn virtually nothing about their backgrounds or really about them at all other than both men are stubborn, a bit arrogant, and tough. Tab clearly has a tender side, and I did enjoy seeing how much he cares for Will in the aftermath of the attack. And I did like these guys together and find them entertaining and kind of sweet together. I just don’t feel like I walked away really knowing much about them.
Since this is Time Travel Week, I also have to say there is not much here in the way of world building. Honestly, this story could have taken place pretty much anywhere and been virtually identical. The guys are on a space ship, and occasionally in port, but beyond begin told the setting, we never get any real sense of the world they live in, the politics, the time period, or what life is like at all. There are very few futuristic touches beyond mentions of a kind of sonic shower on the ship and Will’s futuristic pants that confound Tab. But other than that, there is really nothing here that gives this story a futuristic feel or really sets it in time and place. Honestly, that didn’t bother me hugely, but if you are looking for a good futuristic story full of creative world building, this one doesn’t provide that.
So overall I liked this one, but didn’t love it. You have to kind of know what you are getting into here. It is a story with some nice banter, generally likable heroes, and lots of sex. If you are looking for a complex plot, real character development, or exciting world building, you aren’t going to find that here. But if you are looking for a simple, fun story with lots of sexy times, I think this could work for you. As it was, I finished feeling entertained.
P.S. I’ll also mention that there is off page rape that occurs here. We don’t see it at all, but we do hear about it in very general terms after the fact.