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Book CoverGwen’s review of Beyond the Rain by Jess Granger
Science-fiction romance released by Berkley Sensation 4 Aug 09

I love me a good sci-fi romance.  When they’re done well – and this one is done very well – you can totally cut loose from your normal world and be completely transported to literally a whole new world.  (Did you see what I did there?  Pun? Yes? No? Well. It amused me.) 

Jess Granger has penned a really wonderful novel with Beyond the Rain.  I’m very much hoping it’s the first of many novels set in this world and that we get a similar stellar (heh) level of writing in the subsequent entries.

The start of Beyond has our heroine, Cyani, on the edge of exhaustion and ennui.  She’s tired of the warrior biz and ready to hang up her spurs, retiring to a dull life in the temple. Cyani suffers from PTSD and reminds me of an otherworldly version of a female Iraqi War veteran – seen and suffered too much at the hands of both enemy and friend to be comfortable with either, and is ready to just pretend none of it happened by holing up in a small job doing everyday things.

Of course, as any of us who has ever tried to do that knows, it never works out the way we thought it would.

Instead, Cyani meets and falls for our hero, Soren.  Soren is a nice being who, because of biology and what happened to him in his enslavement, has to bind with a mate or die.  Through the course of their time together, he binds with Cyani but doesn’t tell her.  He’s willing, on many occasions, to let himself die rather than take away her choice to stay with him.  He knows she’s honorable and selfless and that she may stay with him just to keep him alive.  However, Soren wants Cyani to choose him.

Soren is and uber-hot and sexy hero that isn’t overly alpha.  He’s a very down to earth (so to speak) and cares about those weaker than him.  And, even though he recognizes Cyani is very strong and capable, he cares about her in a way she never thinks to care about herself.

This book is stacked to the brim with interesting moments and very rich details about Cyani and Soren’s world.  You are immersed in it but never feel like you’re drowning.  Granger does an admirable job of keeping the alien-ness recognizable.  She has created a world that uses mostly common terms and reactions.  Sure it’s alien, sure it’s futuristic and sci-fi, but it feels more like “Serenity” or “Firefly” than “Star Trek,” if you know what I mean.  The reader can recognize large portions of the author’s undoubtedly futuristic world.  It’s a flawless little piece of world-building that Granger has done here.

The emotional development between Cyani and Soren is believable and very touching.  You see Cyani come to realize she deserves to care about someone and she deserves to be loved in return.  You see her move from being afraid to live to actually living.  It’s a lovely tale and made me really want more by the end.  And thanks to the oh-so-tantalizing epilogue, it looks like we may get more.  Soon??  Please??

The action is very fun to read and story arc is logical and complete.  We’re never left with a “wtf” feeling – even when the details stretch a reader’s ability to suspend disbelief.  I very much enjoyed the pace of the book and the author’s style.

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a rich sci-fi romance set in an interesting, recognizable world.   I can’t wait to read more from this author.

faye.jpgGrade: A

In a universe torn apart by civil war, a warrior and a slave must fight for their freedom, for their lives, and for a love that may destroy them both…
After five years behind enemy lines, Captain Cyani is ready to retire to her homeworld of Azra as one of the Elite – the celibate warrior sisterhood that rules the planet. But first she must complete one final mission to rescue her fellow Union soldiers. The last thing she expects to find is a prisoner, chained and beaten – but radiating feral power and an unbroken spirit…
Soren is a Byralen, an enigmatic people who possess a unique hormone that they use to bond with their mates – and that is sold as a sexual narcotic in the shadow trade. For years, he has endured torture at the hands of his captors as they leeched his very essence. The last thing he expects is to be freed from slavery by a beautiful warrior woman with radiant blue eyes.
Driven by her rigid sense of honor, Cyani frees Soren even though her life hinges upon the success of her mission. But after so many years in bondage, his hormones are so unbalanced that he will die if he does not bond with a woman. Can the lovely but distant warrior be the woman he needs to survive, or will the forbidden bond destroy them?
Read an excerpt here (scroll down).