My Rating: 3 stars: Liked it, but I had some issues - recommend (B)
Calla, Eric and Melina all work for Planet Core, a powerful firm that is investigating another planet as a possible place for human habitation. On this remote planet, sex is strictly forbidden between co-workers with the exception of married partners, but that doesn’t stop our trio! Calla is miserable because she is still in love with team member Erik, the man who left her to suddenly and very briefly marry their supervisor, Melina.
Okay, I have to put this out there... I felt like this story opened like a soft porn flick. Girl lusts after ex. Ex is an ass. Girl's female supervisor (and also ex of same guy) pulls her aside. Girl thinks she is in trouble, but instead of punishment supervisor shows a soft side and desires flare. I wanted to cue the "bow-chicka-wa-wa" music. However, the story moves past the “porn” stage pretty quickly.
When Melina shows compassion and interest in Calla, Calla becomes confused for she’d never been attracted to a female before. Calla carries this confusion with her as she heads to the field to study native animal life. While Calla's confusion over her attraction is understandable, as is her need to analyze the situation, the constant inner monologue over these matters while she is working paints Calla in an immature light. She's a respected scientist but acting like a teenager. I found this mildly annoying.
Melina uses her supervisory position of power to put Calla in a compromising situation. Calla enjoys it, but it feels cliche. As things progress, Calla continues to question her attraction, stating “But I’m not a lesbian.” This leads into a short discussion about how sex between women doesn’t mean one is a lesbian. The discussion felt like a PSA for the general reading audience.
I continued to struggle with Calla’s reaction to the situation. Although Calla's feelings and uncertainty about being with a woman are natural, I felt at times it gave the book a "dirty" feel. Here is an example of what I mean: "She wanted the experience to be quick, didn't want to get caught with a woman. No one on the mission would respect her if they found out." Statements like these took away from the story and degraded the romance aspect for me.
Now with that all said, the story quickly takes an interesting twist of events. We find out that things are not as they appear. The reader (and Calla) is uncertain who to believe. Conspiracies abound, and suddenly Erik, who was a MAJOR ASS in the first part of the book, is the hero. Of course, if Eric had just been a man and come clean about what happened with Melina there never would have been a problem.
Once the team returns home, we find out more hidden truths, and one really begins to question what the heck is Planet Core up to. This was when I really became engrossed. Unfortunately, it was only a minor part of the story. I wonder if we will get more - another novella or a full-length book?
In then end, I really wanted to like this story a lot, for I'm a sci fi junkie at heart, and this novella held a lot of promise with it’s conspiracy theories and the underground resistance movement. But in the end the book fell flat for me. There were too many open questions and story lines for a novella-length story. Erik going from ass to sweetheart was a little too rapid, and I just didn't feel the justification for his horrendous behavior. Once back on earth, I felt the part of the story with the most promise was rushed. We never find out why Calla and Erik were set up or what the whole underground movement is about. With that said, the premise of the story is interesting enough that I certainly would like to read the next story. I feel there is a lot of potential, and although a lot seemed to bug me about the book, I enjoyed reading it.