Format read: ebook purchased by reviewer
Genre: science fiction romance
Release Date: February 28th, 2012
Number of pages: 276 pages
Formats available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Willa Rayes, only daughter of a legendary Lingorian fighter pilot, can fly any ship in the galaxy. Better than her brothers, in fact. But does that get her any respect? Not as long as she has breasts. Winning the Nebulon Trike will not only force her family to notice her, it’ll be her declaration of independence from men in general.
Then she meets her race partner, Stratton Sinnet. Arrogant and chauvinistic, he ignites her libido like no man ever before. And threatens to send her well-planned strategy straight to hell.
A bounty hunter by trade, Sin enters the Trike for one reason: money. Somewhere among the racers his quarry is hiding, but he’s not worried. He always gets his man, and winning the race will be a nice bonus. It sure would be a hell of a lot easier, though, if he wasn’t saddled with a know-it-all navigator who’s getting on his last nerve-and under his skin.
As the checkpoints go by and the danger escalates, the fight for control, the lead-and satisfaction-approaches supernova heat. Burning away their resistance, and the tough shells that protect their one vulnerability…their hearts.
Note: Copious amounts of ranting ahead. Feel free to jump to the “Bottom Line” section at the end to get the gist of this review. No hard feelings. ^_^
I love love loved the cover and premise of Ricochet. As soon as I saw the cover, I had to read the blurb. And and soon as I read the blurb, I had to buy the book. Once I started the book, I was massively intrigued. But then things got complicated…
But we’ll start with what I did like in this book. The author did a great job of quickly establishing the emotional weaknesses of leads Willa Rayes and Stratton Sinnet. I did actually like the antagonism between the two characters in the early chapters. Some of their ribbing was truly amusing, and clearly belied a steamy magnetism. There’s a particular scene in which double entendre makes for good natured (and sexy) hilarity. A bit later in the book, it was intriguing to see how intensely the two fought their attraction, and wouldn’t allow themselves to see how alike they were…though there were a few equally special moments of underlying tenderness and affection. Additionally, the scenes of high adventure were pretty engaging and exhilarating.
The crux of my issues lay not merely with the behavior of the leads so much as the disparity I felt between what was told and what was shown. To me, it makes perfect sense that the heroine is really good at racing and is intent on proving that she, a female, can do just as much–if not more, and better at that–than any man can do. The hero insists that she’s merely desperate for male attention and has daddy issues. As was established near the beginning, it was more complicated than that, but as the story goes on I got the distinct impression that the originally stated motivations were abandoned. Somewhere in the middle of the book, the only stated problem the heroine had was that she craved male attention. Confused the flip out of me.
Then, parallel to that, was the steady development of the hero as simply misunderstood, despite him having major issues of his own. The narrative from both characters seemed to suggest–after those implications that Willa had a self-worth problem–that there are understandable reasons for Stratton’s misogyny and mercenary behavior, both in general and toward the heroine in particular. It was fascinating to me that at a given point, both the heroine and hero thought or said stuff like, “oh [Willa] could be a real bitch” and blame her[self] for any number of developments out of their control, but then coo and guffaw about Stratton’s sometimes beyond-the-pale behavior.
Smug pleasure hung thick in his voice. “Now let me sleep, or so help me, I’ll put your naked ass in the hallway.”
Willa grinned. He probably would.
His sexist and occasionally degrading commentary stopped being cute after a while, and felt redundant and overdone.
Stratton: “It’s a deal. Now be a good girl and shut the yap.”
[later, in a different conversation]
“Willa: “Are you sure?”
Stratton: “No, I’m telling you a tale so you’ll go all girlie and start quivering in fear. Then you’ll try to patch the hero up and you’ll sleep with me again.”
Whatever the inner narrative, the outward behavior belied it all, and so it made less sense to me when the hero was blaming the heroine for not seeing things his way or understanding his objectionable behavior. I found that as the story progressed, I liked Willa more, and Stratton less and less. Which is not great–you want a balance, and you want to like the couple and buy into their tandem (and individual) evolution, since that’s the point of a romance. The coupling. Believing that person A could fall for person B, and vice versa.
Indeed, Willa makes this whole arc in which she ends up adjusting her priorities and behavior, even seeking forgiveness from Stratton, and yet he never really makes concessions, or sacrifices, or difficult decisions. He’s unapologetic about swindling the heroine, largely thankless when she saves his life, and hypocritical (when considering the fact that he insists Willa trust him, and yet distrusts her to almost the very end). The following sums up his attitude throughout:
Both options left him cold and empty…and more than a little angry. Why couldn’t he have both [the girl and the job]? Where was it written he had to choose?
[later, in a different scene]
Stratton snorted at her submissive attitude. Oh, he’d like her to do a host of things, most centering around the bedroom or kitchen, but they’d all have to wait.
I realize I can’t get into too much more detail without spoiling the hell out of the book. So I’ll just say that I did enjoy the book overall, but I wasn’t convinced of all of the character development and behavior. It even threw a bit of shade on the love scenes, which are admittedly smoking hot.
(ETA: Now, admittedly, Willa spends the book giving Stratton loads of crap herself. She’s headstrong to the max, not allowing anyone to have control of her, not allowing herself to lose control. She dishes out some real zingers to Sinnet, indeed. But I feel like her antagonizing has a different quality to it. And truthfully, some of the shit homie says makes it understandable for another person to react brusquely in response.
[Willa, after Stratton takes the pilot spot and antagonizes her]
“You deserve this.” Before he could react, she stomped down hard on the instep of his right foot. “For now, I’ll let you have your way, but from here on out, you’ll have to fight me for the privilege of pilot. I’ve worked hard, struggled for every achievement I claim, and I refuse to let a louse like you take that away. Do you understand?”
In short, I get what was attempted. Both the hero and heroine are Alpha-people, needing control; both have deep seated trust issues; and both give each other loads of crap. But the execution of the interactions within the character arcs left an impression that perhaps was not intended. The hero eventually tells the heroine that he respects and admires her, sure–but that to me is surface; his surrounding thoughts and behavior doesn’t convince me of substantive growth.)
Also somewhat disappointing to me was the limited attention paid to the details of the space race, which was the plot driver throughout the whole book. I have no clue how one could win, and thus had no real sense of tension about the characters’ progress in the overall race. There were allusions to cheating and their consequences, but no followup to explain clearly questionable behaviors by the racers. When the results of the race were revealed, I had no frame of reference to process the outcome.
So all told, there was some good and some that I was not really feeling. But I’ll end this review by saying what I’m always thinking before, during, and after reading any book: maaaaajor props to the author, cuz writing is never an easy feat.
Bottom Line: The antagonistic relationship and sexual tension between the lead characters definitely intrigues. Overall, I most enjoyed the first and last quarter of the book. The 50% in the middle, however, had what I thought were several moments of head-scratching and disbelief, mostly due to the structure of the character development. I thought the heroine’s arc wasn’t wholly convincing, and that hero had next to none. But there are clear merits to this sexy, adventurous, action-packed sci-fi romp. I would recommend fans of paranormal romance give this a go for themselves.
I give Ricochet 3 stars.
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