Monday, February 8, 2016

Starflight by Melissa Landers (Starflight book 1)

Solara Brooks is looking for a fresh start, one away from the orphanage where she learned to become a mechanic and where no one cares about the felony tattoos that cover her knuckles. She is looking for work as an indentured servant in order to earn passage aboard the Zenith to the outer realms. Solara was just offered a job on a new terraform on Vega as a mechanic. She is the last one standing looking for passage when her worse nightmare walks up. Doran Spaulding was the star quarterback and her academic rival at the exclusive academy where Solara was a scholarship student. She was forced to leave and graduate elsewhere when she got into trouble. If she doesn’t accept Doran’s servitude, the next trip won’t be for another year. With nowhere else to go, she humbles herself and accepts Doran’s offer over the protests of his girlfriend. Five months is better than waiting another year.

Doran is a demanding master, calling for Solara at all hours of the day and night. When he sends for her one night, in her haste, Solara forgets to wear her fingerless gloves. Doran doesn’t trust her and freaks out to learn that she is a felony. He no longer wants Solara to work for him and informs her that she will now be at the beck and call of Miss DePaul, his girlfriend. Solara will need to take care of her dog before breakfast. Solara sleeps in her bunk until the morning alarm.  Feeling uneasy, it isn’t until she heads towards Miss DePaul’s suite that she realizes her wristband hasn’t registered any pages. Miss DePaul answers the door telling Solara to clean up Baby’s accident before taking her for a walk. She is going to take a shower and instructs Solara to lock the door when she leaves. She takes the dog for a walk and “forgets” to lock the door behind her. The Zenith has reached a refueling station and Doran has requested that she meet him outside the auxiliary engine room.

Without speaking to her, Doran points out a window where she sees the ship being refueled and her trunk on the floor. He is dead serious about leaving her behind at the outpost because she wouldn't tell him what she did to get the tattoos. Solara doesn't want to tell him but instead the two shoot insults at one another over each other's character. At the end of her rope, Solara remembers Sister Agnes’ is parting gift, a stunner. She is able to knock him out and slip his wristband off of his hand. Suddenly, she realizes that she hadn't thought through her plan. Doran’s handprint is needed to use the band at any purchasing scanners.

When Doran come to, he is unable to remember who he is or where he is at. A female voice speaks and she helps him to sit up. The young girl looks familiar but he cannot recall how he knows her. He notices the M band on her wrist and realizes that it stands for master. He looks down and sees that he is wearing the matching slave band. Solara tells him that he was hired to travel with her to the Obsidian Beaches. He became became dizzy and fell down the stairs. He accepts her story because it sounds familiar. Solara tells Doran that he is hung over and they need to hurry to catch their connecting ship. He is unable to remember his name and asks what it is. Doran Zenith and her name is Lara, but he can call her Miss Brooks.

Solara doesn't feel guilty for taking Doran's money and once she reaches the outer realm, the Enforcers cannot touch her. She wants to purchase him a ticket back to Earth but he is having none of it. Doran has something important to do at the Obsidian Beaches. He is determined to go with her. She relents, knowing that she would still have access to his money and makes clear to him what their relationship is. At the Auto Mall, she withdraws some of Doran’s  money, takes him to a clinic for some “medicine” and goes shopping. After she has outfitted Doran in some coveralls, he begrudgingly carries her packages. Suddenly, an announcement comes over the broad over the speaker saying, “Passenger Spaulding, please report to your ship.” Solara panics and points towards a ship saying “that one!” A sign on the wall states that it is the SS Banshee, Captain Phineas Ross, sole proprietor. Solara keeps pushing the call button while keeping an eye on the enith. Finally, a boy opens the door and asks what they want. Solara ask for passage for two to the outer realm. Both boys look at her questioningly and Doran asks about the Obsidian beaches. Solara correct herself saying the Beaches first, then the realm  and asks how much, while the announcement is made again. The captain finally comes to the door and Solara bargains over the price while she keeps looking at the Zenith and see several Enforcers. They finally agree on a price and Ross says that they will leave in five minutes.

In the ship, the boy introduced introduces himself as Kane and continues to flirt with Solara. They eventually meet Cassia and Lawrence, who is the first mate. Solara is surprised to see the ship tracer on a table and she is quickly told that it is broken, which she knows is a lie. Later, the Banshee takes a couple of warning shots from the Enforcers and Solara realizes how the ship got her name, they take off screaming like a banshee. Solara realizes the depth of the trouble she will be in if the Enforcers catch her. Already a convicted felony, kidnapping a Spaulding wouldn’t bode well for her future. The captain pages everyone to report to the bridge. Doran is feeling claustrophobic in the ship and begins to remember some facts about his living situation, facts that aren’t adding up. He begins to wonder exactly how he has ended up in his current situation. Doran asks “Lara” for some answers but backs off when he startles her. On their way, they run into the two younger crew members and they tell the two to turn in for the night. The captain is tired and the ship’s autopilot is broken. They have stopped for the night on an abandoned lunar colony.

The two must share a bed but Solara makes Doran sleep on the floor. During the night, Doran wakes up to find the ship has zero gravity. He stares at Solara before he wakes her up. She immediately realizes that the gravity drive is down and the two of them head to the engine room to repair it. Doran is shocked to learn that Solara is able to fix and asks if she is an engineering student. Something like that she respond and he is even more intrigued about why a young girl is heading towards such a dangerous place. While working in the tight space, Solara asks Doran to hold her hair back so that she can work. He is enjoying the feel of her hair when a flashback of pink hair from his girlfriend comes to mind. Suddenly, all of Doran’s memories come flooding back. She tries to explain but he slams the door shut, trapping her inside. Angry, he doesn’t let Solara explain herself. Doran is ready to go to the captain to tell him what is going on. Solara tells him not to. The crew cannot be trusted since the Enforcers were after them. If he tells them who he really is, they might try to ransom him. If he doesn’t believe, he can go to the bridge and see that the tracker is missing. Doran does just that, leaving Solara behind the locked door. He is dismayed to find that Solara is right and wonders what his plan of action will be.

Can Doran begin to trust Solara and work with her to get himself out of their situation? Why is Solara heading to the outer realms? What did Solara do to receive her tattoos? What is the real reason Doran is traveling to the Obsidian Beaches? How come he was being paged repeatedly at the refueling station? What is really going on with the SS Banshee and its crew? Do they find out who Doran really is?
Visit Melissa Landers’ website.

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