As the captain of a small scavenging vessel, James Marks is used to taking jobs that others turn away. But his most recent contract may just end up getting him killed. Sneaking into Peach Corporation’s Research and Development to steal an untested transportation device is borderline suicidal, but it means a fantastic payday for Marks and his loyal crew. Except nothing goes to according to plan and James finds himself transported to a distant planet, along with the R&D manager, Michael Bennet.
Michael isn’t a run of the mill corporate drone. He’s designed much of the tech that makes Peach so famous, despite the fact he does so against his will. He doesn’t agree with Peach’s policies, but the last time he tried to get free he ended up institutionalized and then trapped in a corporate position. Only with James does Michael get to experience a true measure of freedom, though doing so proves to be hazardous to his health. Fleeing from enemies and with too few friends to count upon, James and Michael have to decide if they’ll run forever or if they’ll stand and fight.
SIO was something of a whirlwind and it’s one of those books that hits the ground running from the first page. We’re introduced to a Firefly-esque world where corporations and corrupt agencies run much of the universe. James and his crew are scavengers on the fringe and the jobs they take aren’t for the feint of heart. James is very much a bold adventurer, but one whose travels have taken their toll. His eye and leg have been replaced by mechanics and he has a history of making questionable decisions. He’s charming and loyal to a fault and he could have turned on Michael a dozen times, but never failed to protect him. We see Michael struggling to find his sense of self and his place in the world now that he’s finally free of Peach. His transformation from sheltered and broken into someone strong enough to stand as James’ equal is well written and believable. They are an exceptionally sweet couple together and even when the book struggled to find an even keel, James and Michael kept me focused and engaged in the story.
SIO has a good plot and it’s well written. But from the start the book is chaotically paced and jagged in it’s transitioning. I felt like I was dumped into a story that was already in progress and it took time to find a rhythm for reading it. After that, SIO tends to become even more convoluted. James and Michael are chased by Peach, the leader James took the contract from, a crew member who happens to be the daughter of the aforementioned leader, and along the way run in to James’ wife, various friends ,and on and on. Our introductions to these people are often casual, as though we’re supposed to know who they are already. When you combine that with all the backstabbing and corporate espionage, SIO became something of an insane rollercoaster.
I enjoyed SIO a great deal. It definitely needed a quelling of its plot and character chaos, which is exhausting at times, but it’s still a good space yarn with two protagonists that really steal the show. James and Michael are a pair I genuinely rooted for and wanted them to find a happily ever after. It will be interesting to see if SIO is a one off or if the author will be playing in this world further. Despite its issues, I recommend SIO for fans of space adventuring and engaging romance.