Aliens called Eluminarians have entered the solar system and attacked. On top of that, a militant group called Retribution (think separatists ala Timothy McVeigh) wants to destroy the government. Enter Spencer Blackwelder, a sharp shooter working with others to train for the double threat of war. He’s also sleeping with his best friend…who happens to be engaged to his other best friend. This is causing Spencer a lot of pain and confusion, so when an opportunity arises to move to another station to train squads how to shoot and survive, he jumps on it.
When Spencer arrives, he makes a few friends and a few enemies, and meets a somewhat hopeless squad who can’t seem to do anything right. He also meets senatorial ambassador, Juan Miguel Arias. The men begin a relationship after a few dates, and things seem to be working out. Until all hell breaks loose.
I’m going to start by giving a brief summary of why I chose Blackwelder 2164. I had started feeling like I was in a rut. I’d been enjoying a lot of books, but I had a need to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. So, the blurb for this book grabbed my attention, and I decided to jump in. What I found sort of fell flat for me.
I think it’s important to point out I didn’t consider this book to be a romance in the traditional sense. I think it was a sci fi action in which the lead character is gay, and he meets and falls for another gay man. However, they don’t really spend a lot of time together on the page. War is coming with aliens and humans alike, and Blackwelder and the others have to figure out how to win this war before the entire solar system is destroyed. A little side note here. I found it interesting the story takes place inside our own solar system rather than out in deep space like Star Trek or Alien.
The story started out well enough. Blackwelder was the third wheel in a relationship with his best friends. He was somewhat in love with his male BFF, but he loved (platonically) and respected his female BFF. It wasn’t overly angsty, but he was definitely feeling bad about what was going on. I liked Spencer. He wasn’t one of the typical overly brooding soldier characters that happens all too often. He had feelings of love, sadness, and guilt. He wanted to help defend his home and took it seriously. I really liked how he took a rough squad under his wing and started working with them to make them better soldiers, even though they were considered a laughingstock. Blackwelder was the picture of bravery, loyalty, and strength.
I didn’t particularly feel the chemistry between Blackwelder and Juan Miguel. While they were cute and funny and professed their love for each other, there was a lot going on with the war, training, and politics. I couldn’t really see why they were in love. There were a few dates and sex (by the way, most of the sex takes place “off camera“), but I think their romance fell to the wayside in order to detail said war, training, and politics. There wasn’t a lot of character development or time spent between the guys for me to feel invested in them as a couple.
There are way too many background characters to talk about. I understood the issues Blackwelder had with the love triangle, but once again, I didn’t feel connected with it. Also, the blurb describes Blackwelder’s squad as “lovable losers,” but I didn’t get that vibe from them. Again, this is because there was so much going on, there wasn’t a chance to get that development.
The final battle of the story was interesting and full of action. We get to learn the identity of the infiltrator from Retribution, and we got to see the Eluminarians defeated. Also, Blackwelder and Juan Miguel’s relationship is solidified. It all wrapped up neatly, but I can’t say I was truly satisfied with it. I felt like I’d been through the wringer, but also, I would have like to have an epilogue so I could know what happened after the major battle. That’s just a personal thing, though, and it may not effect your opinion if the story.
I will cautiously recommend Blackwelder 2164 to sci fi fans. If you go in with the idea it will be a romance, you may be disappointed. However, if you like a lot of action with aliens and intrigue, this may be for you.