Last summer I was thrilled to get a copy of The Bond That Ties Us, a debut release by Christine d'Abo, and for today's Thursday Thirteen I'll give you my review. The sequel to this book, The Bond That Heals Us is releasing soon from Ellora's Cave. A perfect time to settle in with the first in the Eternal Bond series while waiting to dive into the sequel.
1 - I met Christine when she joined my Atlantic Canada chapter of Romance Writers of America. Not only was she a new member in a small group, making her very easy to spot, but she had a Betty Boop purse. How could I not feel instant sisterhood with this person? When I discovered she was a Maritimer who - like me - had moved to Ontario and had very recently returned to the east coast, I liked her even more.
I so enjoyed the time she spent with our chapter, and most especially the writers' retreat near White Point Beach last May. Sadly for me, she relocated back to Ontario (woo hoo said her Toronto Romance Writers buddies!) by last fall. Happily, the blogosphere keeps us in touch (phew.)
2 - Christine is one of those people who likes to sit back, chew on a piece of grass and think up stories. She reaches this zen-like state through her very hectic, fulltime day job with a cutting edge company. She has a family, her own blog, as well as a group blog called Six Degrees of Sexy which she shares with five other writers, including Renee Field. Yes, the same Renee whose Love Me Wild I reviewed two weeks ago.
During all this downtime Christine manages to coax extreme word counts from her keyboard, which is why in the time she's packed up one household and unpacked a new one, she's also managed to publish three books as well as co-authored a book with Renee Field. Head spinning? Yeah - me, too...
3 - Let's have a look at Christine's debut novel, where it all began. The Bond That Ties Us is part of the Ellora's Cave Futuristic category, which offers science fiction romances. In this story, the heroine is a security chief on a colony planet. The hero is an alien ambassador.
4 - We meet Haylie Bond, newly arrived on the sandy, windswept planet of the Eurus colony. As she waits in line with her friend Sara, the colony's new doctor, to be processed into Eurus' population, Haylie feels uncharacteristically space sick after spending several years in suspended animation en route. What she doesn't know is that her reaction to Eurus - which feels like a case of horniness taken to a painful extreme - is in fact a reaction to someone on the planet she hasn't even met.
5 - Kamran is a Briel ambassador expecting to one day feel the inexorable pull towards his one destined mate. Exactly the way he feels since the new security chief arrived. Yet that would be a biological impossibility. A human woman could not be his mate.
6 - Kamran has built his career to the point where he is a crucial figure mediating between human and Ecada interaction in deep space. Haylie has likewise gained a reputation that pits her as head of security on a colony that could erupt into hostilities under the wrong leadership. Neither of them has placed resigning and raising a family anywhere on their life plan agendas.
7 - I really, really love the sci-fi aspects of this story. Being a longtime fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Dune, Alien, etc. I love a laser-shooting woman and a tall, dark alien male with an irresistable voice. I'm more at home with this type of couple than with a contemporary cop and a former Russian colonel now serving at the UN. Which would be the same sort of couple, but I like the fact that they're on another planet so much better.
8 - To say there's a lot of sexual tension between Haylie and Kamran, would be rather like saying it's a bit warm in Death Valley in late July. This is definitely an ouch-mama!-hot tale of passion. Erotica with a capital EROTIC.
9 - Haylie and Kamran have given their all to their careers before meeting one another, and neither had a romantic bone in their bodies. What Christine does so well is make their willingness to rethink their own priorities crucial not only to their individual happiness, but to the survival of several races in this frontier of deep space.
10 - Christine really knows how to end each chapter with a hook. Like this, for example:
"Kamran? 'Are you hurt? We need to get out of here.'
She reached him and they quickly hugged.
He pulled her to him. 'I’m okay. Are you...'
She felt him stiffen. She pulled back to look into his eyes. She watched as they rolled back up into his head. Haylie tried to say something or at least she thought she did. But the words never left her mouth. The thoughts stopped as they were formed.
Pain sliced through her mind. Her hands flew to her head in an attempt to keep it from exploding. Screams surrounded her mind. If they were real or imagined, she was long past caring.
Right before she passed out, she realized that they came from her."
11 - Christine's writing style is assured as she builds a lived-in world where we can lose ourselves. Her little details here and there give us something concrete to hold onto, yet don't ambush the story. Her characters spend many hot and heavy moments together, but we not only go along with them, we know exactly who we're with and what they're feeling. And why.
12 - I love encountering fictional worlds that seem to have a life larger than that of the novel. I immediately felt this kinship to the Eurus colony, wishing it were a series so I could find out more about the other inhabitants. Every character I met in The Bond That Ties Us made me feel that they had a history prior to their scene, and would have a future - if only I could find out what it was. Dreams really do come true - The Bond That Heals Us, coming soon, will take us back into this world to follow Sara, Haylie's friend and the doctor on the Eurus colony.
13 - I leave you with an excerpt. Enjoy!
"Haylie lay back on the bed and rested her head next to her best friend’s.
Sara lightly tapped her head against Haylie’s. 'Hon, I know that the past week has been rough on you. Shit, I can barely believe we’ve only been on the station for such a short time. You need to rest and relax. Get your head about you so you can figure things out.'
Easier said than done.
'I need to talk to Kamran.'
'Then go talk to Kamran,' Sara said, sounding very much like her mother.
'I believe I mentioned he was in jail. Accused of treason.'
'You dumbass. You’re the human chief of security on the station. Can’t you get in and see any prisoner you want?'
Haylie opened her mouth to answer but nothing came out.
Sara pressed on. 'Don’t you have an in with your counterpart? Kamran’s friend?'
'Exactly. It seems plausible that you would want to check things out. He can get you in.'
Haylie was on her feet and across the room to the computer vid screen before Sara moved.
'Taber, we need to talk.'
'Ms. Bond. I believe that would be an excellent idea. Your office in ten minutes?'
'I’ll be there.'
She stopped long enough to throw on her boots. Her sleeveless shirt and uniform pants would have to do.
'Hey, be careful,' Sara said and tossed Haylie her blaster. She caught it easily and tucked it into her holster before heading out the door.
'You're not feeling well. You should let Sara check you over.' He moved his arms in a failed attempt to reach for her. He swore loudly in his own language. 'Can you remove these?'
'Why did they tie you down?'
She reached for his arm and let her fingers brush lightly against his skin. The temptation to remove the restraints was laced with the desire to leave him like this. Knowing he was at her mercy was strangely arousing.
At the brief contact between them, Kamran sucked in a breath. Haylie felt the same jolt that had surely passed through him. Images of them locked together, screaming in a mind-blowing climax blinded her. Her knees weakened and she dropped her full weight against the edge of the bed.
Her vision cleared enough to see that Kamran had felt it too. He swallowed hard but he didn’t look away from her.
'They normally don’t bind people to beds. Let me up.' His breathing was ragged.
Without thinking, she reached over and ran her hand over the sheet. She felt his leg muscles tense at the contact, vibrating with strain. He was at her mercy. And damn her if she didn’t like it.
'They knew you needed bed rest, that’s why they have you in bed. I wouldn’t want to you exert yourself and end up back in the med bay. I think you should stay here.'
His groan filled the room as she caressed his flesh, pressed tightly against the thin cloth.
'What are you doing?' He sounded far away.
'Interrogating the prisoner. Do you have any problems with that, Ambassador?'
'Only if you stop.'
Her laugh was deep, throaty. 'I’m not into torture.'
Haylie leaned forward. She could taste him though the fabric. His heated sweat seeped through and onto her tongue. Kamran swore again.
She nipped his tip lightly with her teeth and pulled back.
'Then again, torture does have its pleasures.' "
- Christine d'Abo, 2007
Stay tuned to the next two Thursday Thirteens - next week I'll review Red Garnier's Bona Fide Liar, followed by Lillian Feisty's Dance of the Plain Jane.