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Amber Quill Press
Leith McClure is the daughter of Cameron McClure, the wealthy owner of McClure Shipping, a space transport company. Cameron being seriously ill, Leith is handling the business until he is able to take up the reins again. Steve Hancock, Cameron's right hand man, has been assisting Leith with the business. As the story begins, Leith and Hancock are on Trader World to complete a deal with J'Qhir, the representative of a standoffish species of reptilian descent called the Zi. After the payment is made in invaluable Zi jewels, J'Qhir accepts Hancock's invitation to have a tour of the McClure ship. Hancock has ulterior motives, though--he kidnaps both J'Qhir and Leith in order to gain the Zi jewels AND the business, and abandons them on a planet called "Paradise."
Leith and J'Qhir are the only sentient beings on the entire planet, and must survive or die through their joint efforts. With the few tools at their disposal, they undertake the multitude of tasks required for them to survive. At the same time, they establish an intellectual relationship--then, in spite being of different species and from different worlds, they form a physical and emotional relationship.
This is essentially a castaway story, in which two people from different cultural backgrounds discover their true compatibility under external duress. The plot caught my interest from the first page and, as the story developed, kept me reading and hoping that these two admirable people eventually would be happy together in spite of the odds against them. The science fiction framework is well developed, believable, and interesting, and is combined with a love story that grows naturally within the plot. The story is complex, containing multiple conflicts that pit the protagonists first against an individual (Hancock), then against nature (the planet), and, finally, against their own cultures (their up-bringings and expectations). I would rate this novel Spicy. Although there are only two fairly explicit love scenes (with numerous others implied), the well-crafted prose successfully communicates the growth of the deep feelings between Leith and J'Qhir. I highly recommend this emotionally-fulfilling novel for science fiction readers as well as romance readers.
Reviewed by: Jean