Rumors of Aurelia Popkiss's death have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, she and her crew have been drifting through the big black, scavenging to survive since the day she "died." Yet after years of being on the wrong side of less than favorable odds, they never thought that finding a young girl stowed away on their ship would prove to be among the worst things to happen to them.
From the moment Aurelia finds Kateryn concealed in her cabin, Auri knows she's hiding something. But even Aurelia can't imagine the true reason for the stowaway's sudden appearance in her life.
Kateryn's past is as convoluted and murky as Aurelia's own. The girl is out for revenge and nothing is going to stop her from destroying Aurelia and her crewincluding Keys, Aurelia's fellow shipmate and the man she's secretly in love withto get it.
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Aurelia Popkiss glared at the half-dozen men who dared to board her ship and didn't know what annoyed her more: the fact that eight meagerly armed men thought they would take them so easily, or the imbecile currently blocking her shot.
"Where's the vault?" The small one in front without a single strand of hair on his head obviously fancied himself the leader. Not a man she would have followed into battle, personally. He waved a mass of metal nearly the length of his arm at them. "This ain't a toy, you know."
No, definitely not a toy. She felt the urge to comment on his need to carry such a big gun, but she figured it wouldn't be well received. It was never good to taunt a man about the size of his weapon.
"You'd best shove off, mate." Everhard, aka the man-mountain blocking her from view, made her so proud. "We haven't got a vault."
A sharp bark of laughter burst from the little man. "Look at your clothes, your fancy weapons. This ship ain't exactly a relic. Of course you've got a vault. Now, tell us or we start shooting and find it anyway."
Not only was he short in stature, but on brainpower too.
Weapons on her side lifted a little higher. They had at least eight men while Aurelia's side had five, including her. But her men's weaponry was much more advanced. Surely they had to see this too. The exotic munitions her men carried should have been a tip off that they weren't the type that got hijacked.
The intruders seemed to realize they might be at a disadvantage when Bam stepped forward. They took an instinctive step back. He had that effect on people. Or at least his mechanical bits did. With one eye and an arm replaced by machineryin addition to his sizehe cut a frightening figure. "Best think again, mate. Y' might have the numbers, but we've more firepower. Whatmakes y' think y' can get past us?"
The other group looked more than a little daunted by the overt challenge. Their eyes darted from one another to their diminutive leader.
The little man's face twisted with such hatred that Aurelia could almost feel it coming off him in waves. "Have it your way!"
Then hell decided to have its way with her ship.
Shots flew from the guns of the invaders, while Aurelia and her crew dove for the nearest cover.
Aurelia landed behind a crate just as a bullet grazed the corner. "Fire!"
Her men didn't hesitate. She edged around her shield and fired. The scream that rewarded her almost made a smile curl her lips. She relished the cries of fright when they unleashed the awesome power of Meri's weapons. Unlike what the would-be marauders were firing, their weapons didn't merely propel bullets. Hiding behind things wasn't going to save them from what was essentially target-seeking lightning.
Brilliant flashes of light burst in the cargo hold, accompanied by the dull thud of bodies falling to the floor.
Unable to see any more adversaries, Aurelia sidled out from her hiding place inch by inch in search of another target. She stifled a cry of pain behind gritted teeth when an arm snagged around her middle and dragged her to the forefront.
Furious, Auri glared at her men when their guns sagged a little. The expression on her face was enough to buoy them back up again.
"Get your hands off her and get the hell off this ship!" Everhard jerked his head toward the airlock. "We've got the upper hand."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A Disappointing Sci-Fi Romance Grade: D or 2 stars The Story Aurelia Popkiss, assumed dead in a prison explosion, acts as the Euchronia’s captain. Accompanied by her crew of fugitives, they survive through interplanetary acts of piracy and scavenging for goods. Some of them – a scientist turned cook, a rake of unknown loyalties, a formerlynouveau riche second in command - have unrevealed secrets. The Euchronia’s latest space raid rewards them with a stowaway, with secrets of her own. Auri and crew try to determine the mysterious woman’s hidden agenda, as they evade recapture. It’s a cat and mouse game between Auri and the stowaway. Loyalties are questioned, lies are told, and dangerous situations slowly reveal a secret love. My Thoughts I love a good science-fiction romance. The intergalactic travels, diverse beings, suspense, action, speculative storytelling, the relation between culture and technology are conducive to producing dynamic plots. I expect total escapism into elaborate and/or lush worlds. This isn’t the case with Liar’s Gamble. For the most part, the romance is subdued until the story’s end. Space is a simple backdrop. We see Auri and her crew in a spaceship, in space. The world-building was really disappointing. Kait Gamble’s debut book is not a bad, per se. It felt lacking, especially when you compare Liar’s Gamble to the writings of Linnea Sinclair, Lois McMaster Bujold, Sara Creasy, Marcella Burnard (a fairly new sci-fi romance author), and a few sci-fi erotic writers. The narrative and dialogue lack force and enthusiasm. Auri’s world includes a few steampunk elements. A ‘halftic’ is a person with mechanical parts. The parts bear a similarity to modern day prosthetics, but the parts are made of metal. This world is also under the another Queen Victoria’s rule, and colonization has occurred on terrestrial bodies, such as Mercury and Io, Jupiter’s moon. These story elements are communicated in a few basic sentences. What is good? The character, Aurelia Popkiss, proved to be very cunning. When the romance hit its strong point, Keys makes a convincing love interest. There’s also a couple of cagey little twists in the plot. The story is open-ended, leaving future stories for this crew possible, especially Aurelia. Will I read the next book? Maybe. Perhaps it will significantly surpass the debut. Overall, Liar’s Gamble is a readable, but below average sci-fi romance.