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By Aubrie Dionne, Caroline Phipps
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2011 Aubrie Dionne
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Aries sped through space in her escape pod as if she fled the event horizon of a dying star. The controls blinked warnings around her, but she ignored them, pressing the touchscreen to fire the engines to full capacity.
Let's see how fast this antique can go.
Her sweaty palms slipped on the cold metal as she clutched the restraining bar across her seat. Freedom intoxicated her, coursing through her veins like she drank liquid fire.
She squeezed her eyes shut and screamed, releasing raging emotions held back from years of conforming and keeping her true thoughts silent. Many times Aries had thought her head would implode from the pressure, but instead she'd schemed, plotting the day of her departure down to the last water bottle. As the sound of her voice dissipated, she opened her eyes and peered at the stars as they blurred into streaks of shimmering light.
The time flashed on the screen in fluorescent green: 1638. Aries committed the numbers to memory. She'd have at least three hours before the ceremony and reception ended and her fellow Lifers began searching for her. Her shipmates would check her cell first, then activate the locator embedded in her arm. When they realized she'd jumped ship, they'd stop the engines and count the escape pods. By then, Aries would be a parsec away from the New Dawn.
Maybe they wouldn't come. Giddiness bubbled in her throat with the thought of the ship coursing away without her, but she knew better. They'd turned the New Dawn around before, and knowing Lieutenant Barliss, he'd have it no other way. Not only was he a high-ranking officer, but she was his chosen mate, scheduled to be bound to him in ceremony next month. Her escape would prevent Barliss from passing on their combined genetic code. There was no doubt that a man who followed the Guide to the letter would come after the woman whose DNA he needed.
The orange bulk of Sahara 354 claimed the horizon on the main sight panel. Aries soaked in the sight of the small, forgotten planet, like the first time she'd seen pictures of old Earth. Although the conditions of life on Sahara 354 were reportedly bleak, to Aries it looked like a haven. Blue and red lights flashed on the panel in front of her, warning her of the change in trajectory as the pod entered the planet's gravitational pull. Aries shut off the thrusters and allowed the vessel to sail into orbit. She glided in space, using the pod's sensors to complete a full scan of the surface, searching for signs of resources or life. Although she had enough food and water for days, they'd only delay an inevitable death if she couldn't find further sustenance.
Time ticked away, seconds she knew she couldn't waste. The New Dawn traveled much faster than an escape pod, and she needed time to fake her own death and disappear. The vast wasteland stretching before her only had small pockets of water and plant life. If she didn't choose her landing spot wisely, she'd be plummeting to a real demise.
The sight panel for the exterior cameras beeped, letting her know the pod now glided close enough to visualize the surface. Aries drew up the suggested location with the tip of her finger. The screen displayed a smear of sand cut with jagged protrusions of rock, but the life-form locator told her more. A conglomeration of several beings inhabited the area, and not mere insects or microscopic fungi: human-sized creatures. She dismissed the thought of Outlanders — the New Dawn had traveled too far, too fast, for any straggling humans to have made it to this planet ahead of her. Whatever form the creatures took, if they could survive down there, then so could she.
Aries triple-checked her readings before entering the coordinates. She wasn't going to make the same mistake as the last escapee. She blocked a vision of Tria's grotesquely dehydrated skin from her thoughts. Her friend had made a run for a different planet without testing it for compatibility. In Tria's mad rush to get away, she'd landed on a barren rock with a vacuum atmosphere that had sucked her lungs dry in seconds. The New Dawn had gone all the way back to find a corpse.
With a nervous touch on the control panel, Aries retested the quality of the atmosphere, the pull of gravity, and the radiation levels. Scouts had explored the territory centuries before astrophysicists had fused together the first chrome plates of the New Dawn. Their historical readings had proven accurate for other planets, but Aries still verified the findings for herself. The 354th known desert planet ranked close enough to Earth. Not adequate to sustain a large population or major colonization effort, but adequate to keep a 120-pound woman alive.
Taking a deep breath, she punched in the coordinates. The panels went wild, compiling the information. The computer estimated a new trajectory, and she turned on the thrusters once again. The engines rumbled, pounding deep within her stomach.
The inside of the pod rattled. Lifers never used or maintained the flight pods, so she felt lucky the one she'd chosen worked at all. Would the metal skin on this pod hold together as she entered an alien atmosphere? She could either take the risk, or circle this planet until the New Dawn came back to get her — the New Dawn with Lieutenant Barliss aboard. Holding her breath, Aries activated the final landing sequence. Even if the descent killed her, she'd rather perish on an alien planet than complete her ceremonial obligations.
The restraining bar of her chair shook violently, and she lost feeling in her arms. The air boiled in the small compartment, and her face burned. If she didn't disintegrate, then her head would burst from the pressure. Tears flicked backward from her eyes while she held on, gritting her teeth. An alarm sounded, reminding her to release the parachute. She tried to move, but the force of gravity glued her hand to the armrest, stretching her skin taut. After counting to three, she took a breath and grunted as she yanked her arm up and pressed the touchscreen, hoping the chute would work.
A bright flash of light blinded her, and splotches exploded under her eyelids. The pod hit the ground, and her world went black.
* * *
Disappointment weighed down Lieutenant Astor Barliss' shoulders as each member of the congregation filed in. No one knew the whereabouts of his intended. After the first speaker took the stand, Barliss' displeasure turned into astonishment at her absence. She played the game meticulously, like he did, appearing at all the events, performing her job at optimum capacity and sitting in the first pew of the congregation without deviation. How could she miss the pairing of Commander Gearhardt's great-granddaughter with the general's son? An anxious dread settled in his chest as he wondered what conclusions they'd draw about him and his own, absent bride-to-be.
Stars glittered on the sight panels around them as the ship sped toward Paradise 21. Even an important ceremony such as this wouldn't slow or hinder their optimum flight speed. The speaker's voice echoed off the glass, resonating throughout the domed chamber. Barliss focused on the preprogrammed flickering of the candles on the altar, something that could be controlled, instead of the vast unknown stretching in all directions.
The ceremony drew out until he felt like a wound coil waiting to spring. The close proximity of the congregation stifled him — too many people to keep tabs on, too many to control at once. As the couple recited their final vows, he breathed a sigh of relief, eager to stand up and move around the room, ready to talk to the right people and make the right impressions. After the usual applause, everyone rose and gravitated toward the trays of food.
Smoothing one stray hair into the gelled-back hairstyle he wore perfectly, Barliss pushed through the congregation. The throng of bodies cluttered the main deck, each one carrying a delicate champagne glass with bubbling liquid, vintage stuff from old Earth. If it were any other day, he'd allow himself one glass for appearances, but the absence of his intended from such an important occasion made him sick to his stomach.
As Barliss worked through the crowd, he dodged stray comments from his lower officers, ducked underneath a tray of miniature breaded zucchinis, and cut through the couple's extended family, all to give his formal congratulations to the bride and groom. The digital numbers on his wristband accumulated, but he knew better than to leave a ceremony without giving his well wishes. Especially this one. To gain favor with the higher command would put him in a position of advancement. It was all part of the political game, the single sport he excelled at. Only after paying his respects could he start looking for his intended.
"Lieutenant, it's always a pleasure to see you." A man in a white tuxedo broke through the crowd to cuff his shoulder. Barliss gauged the timing of the line. Another ten people waited before him to pay their respects, so he could spare a moment for his old friend.
"Gerald, I trust you're doing well with your new bride. How long's it been? A month?"
"Seems like five years to me." He chuckled, but darkness tinged the corners of his eyes. "How can computers be wrong, eh?" He downed his glass of champagne in one desperate gulp. "You have your own ceremony coming up soon, right?"
"Yes, I do." Barliss stifled his excitement, straightening his collar so his gold lapel pin caught just the right amount of light, and the New Dawn's insignia of a seventeenth-century ship cutting through water rested above his right bicep.
"How you ever got paired with such a beauty ..." Gerald trailed off as his own designated life partner came up and clutched his arm.
Barliss sized her up. Thick makeup covered her ruddy complexion, but nothing could cure her limp brown hair and bony nose. No matter how she stuffed the dress, the front would never be filled out in the right places. Not well enough for Barliss' taste, anyway. Her beady eyes always had reminded him of the bats in the loading bay.
"Lieutenant Barliss, you look stellar today."
Barliss' eyebrows rose, questioning her appraisal. He made it a point to look stellar every day. He didn't spend fifteen hours a week weight training for fun and games. "So do you, Tilda, my dear," he lied, playing the game.
She giggled and squeezed Gerald's arm.
Gerald winced as if she'd grasped him too tightly. Tilda waved to someone in the crowd and placed a wet kiss on her husband's cheek, smearing her lipstick before slinking away. Gerald gave her a little wave and turned back to Barliss. "Like I said, you're the lucky one."
The compliment was not entirely welcome. Too much attention to his pairing might raise suspicions. Aries embodied beauty itself. With hair like old Earth's sunset, unblemished skin, and curves in all the perfect places, Aries was a prize. Not only that, but her parents reigned as the top two astrophysicists on the New Dawn. Barliss' mouth watered just thinking of all the connections he'd attain. He bowed to Gerald. "My apologies. I must take my leave to give my respects to the new couple."
"Of course, my friend." Gerald saluted him by waving the champagne glass in his hand. Drips flung across the room and Barliss stepped to the side swiftly, careful not to get any on his pristine, white, ceremonial uniform.
Gerald called over his shoulder. "I'll be seeing you at the celebration after-party, correct?"
Barliss nodded, but his eyes strayed. "If I can get back to the main deck in time, yes."
It took forever for the line to move forward. Everyone inched over to talk with him concerning his own impending ceremony, asking embarrassing questions about his intended's absence. He reached the end of the receiving line, feeling like a schoolboy who'd forgotten to bring his homework. Damn Aries for this humiliation.
"Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Byron Locke. You two make quite the outstanding pair."
"Thank you. Lieutenant Barliss, is it?" The way his name fell off the bride's tongue made him feel like an inconsequential fly. He resisted the urge to squeeze her hand too tightly as she offered it, instead kissing it properly before letting go.
"Yes, appointed five years ago by your great-grandfather, himself."
She scanned the crowd behind him, already losing interest. Barliss scrambled to find a topic to prolong the conversation, to make himself memorable and perhaps win a meeting with the commander.
"Such a lovely ceremony — "
"You're the one paired with Aries Ryder, aren't you?"
He fidgeted with his lapel pin, as if hailing Aries now would make her appear. "That's correct."
"Where is she? I was so looking forward to seeing her today. She was my mentor, you know. She did everything she could to help me prepare for my engineering exams."
"She's ..." He paused, loosening his collar. "Not well."
The new Mrs. Locke's face turned cold. "She's never missed a day of work in her life."
"Like I said, she's not well." His answer came out more curtly than he intended. Mrs. Locke stepped back as if he'd hit her and wrapped her fingers around her new husband's arm. Mr. Locke whispered something in her ear. She gave the lieutenant a brusque nod and turned away.
The next pair of guests pushed by him to greet the bride and groom, and his opportunity slipped away. Damn it! This was all Aries' fault. Frustration boiled inside him like hot mercury. Throughout the whole ceremony, all he'd been able to think of was the future, a future he'd carefully engineered through many years of slippery politics and hard work, a future that granted him Aries as his intended. He had to find her to put her in her place, to remind her being his partner came with certain obligations.
Barliss quietly walked out of the main hall, then picked up the pace, sprinting down the main entry shaft to the personal cells at the rear of the ship. The corridors had an eerie stillness to them, as if the commander had evacuated the vessel and Barliss was the last one left to roam the decks, eternally alone.
Of course, his imagination sped on hyperdrive. Everyone was here, clustered on the main deck, attending the ceremony as dictated in the Guide. Everyone except Aries. Barliss' worry turned to anger, hardening like crushed steel inside his stomach. She'd better have a good reason for her absence. As his future partner, she'd stained both their reputations.
He reached her cell in a record amount of time, his ten-mile morning runs paying off. He pressed the hailing panel and waited for a response.
The corridor lay as silent as deep space. He buzzed again.
"Miss Ryder, this is Lieutenant Barliss. Are you well?"
He shifted his stance to lean against the door, as if he could hear through the thick, chrome wall. Except for the ever-present hum of the lights, silence insulted his ears. He looked at his wristwatch: 1638. The ceremony had started just after 1500 hours, so she'd been missing for almost two hours.
He pressed his lapel pin, paging the main control deck, tapping his foot as he waited. It took long moments for someone to answer. Everyone was enjoying themselves at the reception.
"Activate Aries Ryder's locator immediately and inform the commander. She's been missing for two hours."
He buzzed the door again, wishing he'd taken the time to talk with her at breakfast instead of strengthening ties with the upper command. She'd seemed distant these past few weeks, shoving her food in her mouth to avoid talking. Their meals together ended quickly. Barliss had been thankful for the silence at the time. After all, a woman's frivolous banter didn't interest him.
"Sir." The lower officer's voice startled Barliss from his musings. He didn't like the tone of voice or the pause at the end.
"What is it?"
"Her locator. It's not onboard."
"How can that be?" Barliss' tone questioned the subordinate's capacity.
"Either she's taken it off and ejected it, or gone with it, but in any case, it's not onboard."
Those final words resonated in Barliss' head, and he fell back against the chrome wall, stunned.
"Why didn't the alarm sound?"
"I don't know, sir. She must have tampered with the energy cell."
Barliss narrowed his eyes "Well, turn it back on. Try a different frequency. Have someone check the escape pods."
Excerpted from Paradise 21 by Aubrie Dionne, Caroline Phipps. Copyright © 2011 Aubrie Dionne. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In Paradise 21, Dionne introduces us to Aries and Striker, a romantic pairing full of chemistry and spirit. The romance is a bright light in a world where mankind is fighting for survival in a hostile universe. Aries shuns a life aboard a colony ship traveling to humanities' last salvation. Computers dictate careers and assigned marriages ensure that humanity avoids a genetic bottleneck. Following in her friend's footsteps, Aries makes a bid for freedom, and ends up on a desert planet full of hostile creatures and the handsome, marooned pirate, Striker. Unfortunately, Aries' unwanted fiancé is hot on her trail. But the journey doesn't end there for Aries. Indeed, the adventure is just getting started in this gem of a Sci-Fi romance. Come August, you cannot miss this one! I can't wait for the next installment of this series.
In Aubrie Dionne's Paradise 21, the chance for freedom resides where the heart is. Aries is a Lifer, residing on the New Dawn and bound by whatever fate test scores and a computer cook up for her. Longing for a life of her own, she escapes to Sahara 354, a land of eternal day, sandworms, lizard-people, and a smoking hot space pirate named Striker. When her betrothed-to-be lands on the planet in search for her, Aries may have to give up her long-lost freedom for the man she loves. Paradise 21 is beautifully written. Each word sings on the page and lends importance to the plot, setting, and characters. Ms. Dionne brings to life new worlds from cold, deep space to the desert planet and its strange inhabitants. We feel the heat and the isolation within the universe. As a science fiction novel, Paradise 21 explodes with action-packed drama; as a romance novel, it oozes with sweet romance. The strongest part of this novel resides within the characters. They are flawed and wonderful. Their issues and how they overcome them moves the plot forward. There is never a dull moment! Each character shows growth in who they are, although some characters never change, like people. Ms. Dionne yanks the reader into the worlds she creates and doesn't let them up for air until the last page. Best of all, Paradise 21 reminds us freedom is sacred, sacrifice involves love, and every creature is important. Aubrie Dionne's Paradise 21 catapults me into outer space where anything is possible, but most of all love, and I love this novel and highly recommend it.
Mankind's last hope, space ships, desert planets, pirates, and aliens! I knew I was going to love this book before I even started reading, and I wasn't disappointed. The story cleverly weaves together a number of themes: freedom, duty, the cost of survival. The central romance between Aries, who dreams of freedom, and Striker the marooned space pirate who dreams of a new world for everyone, is beautifully done. But what really made the book for me, was the richness of the secondary characters, who were all uniquely individual and brought fantastically to life. Especially, Tiff, the tough space pirate who secretly yearns for the very things Aries is running from, a secure home and family of her own.
This book is unquestionably, without a doubt, my favorite Science Fiction book this year. It began well, and by the end, I was just totally blown away. The characters captured my imagination and tugged my heartstrings. Each of them is distinctive and fully-fleshed, with believable history and motivations. Aries is a beautiful woman who dares to flaunt the rules and restrictions imposed upon all the pioneers aboard the colony ship. Regardless of consequences, she is determined to escape the confines of the huge vessel. She has no desire to be mated to the man that was computer selected for her, nor does she want a lifetime of a computer-assigned career in a field that holds no interest. It was easy for me to relate to Aries. It was easy to feel compassion for her predicament. At the same time, though, I could understand the necessity for her to fall in line, indeed, truly, the possible survival of everyone aboard the colony ship could be in jeopardy if the group were to lose her unique and carefully selected DNA. Aries is an intelligent, strong woman, and a fierce, cunning fighter. She meets creatures that are unusual and exceedingly dangerous; against all odds she perseveres. Then she encounters another human on the blistering desert planet. Striker is a space pirate who has been marooned for five years - tricked by the woman he had loved and trusted. Striker and Aries share a dogged determination to survive even with the odds stacked severely against them. I thrilled to share vicariously in their many adventures. They encountered and overcame adversity; determined to follow their own paths and, in the process, give the desperate, wretched, orphaned survivors of a barely functional space station new hope, and a chance for a future ripe with possibility. It is almost unheard of for me to re-read a book, but honestly, with this one I may have to make a rare exception. Reviewed by Laurie-J
I've enjoyed author Aubrie Dionne's beautifully lyrical Seasons of Fantasy short stories and, as an aspiring writer, wondered how her prose would translate into a full-length novel. Having just read Paradise 21, I can confirm the musical qualities of her writing blend well with the speed, direction and depth of a science fiction novel to create well-drawn characters, complex situations and a really good read. Coming from two dystopian futures, protagonists Aries and Striker find a third way. Aries, fleeing from arranged marriage on a colony ship, meets renegade Striker on a barren desert planet where he's been marooned by those he loved and trusted. The scene is set for simple romance, and romance is certainly offered. But the emotions in this novel run deeper, as do the ethics and the implications of future history. An entertaining, action-filled adventure follows, with quiet questions lurking like fluted refrains, drawing the story together into something more. How do we fall in love? Why do we break the rules? How much should we care for people we've never met? And where do politics and ambition fit into personal relationships? The story moves forward like a well-plotted movie (think Star Wars at its best), and the background score of questions and misconception plays beautifully. In the end, as the characters are drawn to a well-rounded conclusion, there's just the right space left for ideas to linger in the reader's mind. Not too short, not too long; not too simple, not too complex; not too fanciful, not too restrained; Paradise 21 is well-written, well-imagined, and well-read. Disclosure: I got a free ecopy of this book as part of the author's blog tour.
I enjoyed the triple storyline of the New Dawn crew, the space pirates and Aries and Striker as they converge on the desert planet. It's a fresh, science fiction adventure which contrasts the ultra sheltered life Aries hated on New Dawn with the freedom and despiration of the space pirate. I guess the grass is always greener applies to space as well as neighborhoods. What kept me reading was Aries deep POV. She makes tough choices and grows into an independant heroine. With so many plots in play, I can't wait to see where this story goes next.
This book is unquestionably, without a doubt, my favorite Science Fiction book this year. It began well, and by the end, I was just totally blown away. The characters captured my imagination and tugged my heartstrings. Each of them is distinctive and fully-fleshed, with believable history and motivations. Aries is a beautiful woman who dares to flaunt the rules and restrictions imposed upon all the pioneers aboard the colony ship. Regardless of consequences, she is determined to escape the confines of the huge vessel. She has no desire to be mated to the man that was computer selected for her, nor does she want a lifetime of a computer-assigned career in a field that holds no interest. It was easy for me to relate to Aries. It was easy to feel compassion for her predicament. At the same time, though, I could understand the necessity for her to fall in line, indeed, truly, the possible survival of everyone aboard the colony ship could be in jeopardy if the group were to lose her unique and carefully selected DNA.Aries is an intelligent, strong woman, and a fierce, cunning fighter. She meets creatures that are unusual and exceedingly dangerous; against all odds she perseveres. Then she encounters another human on the blistering desert planet. Striker is a space pirate who has been marooned for five years ¿ tricked by the woman he had loved and trusted. Striker and Aries share a dogged determination to survive even with the odds stacked severely against them. I thrilled to share vicariously in their many adventures. They encountered and overcame adversity; determined to follow their own paths and, in the process, give the desperate, wretched, orphaned survivors of a barely functional space station new hope, and a chance for a future ripe with possibility. It is almost unheard of for me to re-read a book, but honestly, with this one I may have to make a rare exception.Reviewed by Laurie-J
More at theawesomemagicattic.blogspot.comI didn't know what to expect for this one, but I ended up loving it! It was exciting, filled with unique characters, and had a fast paced plot. It's strongly recommended for fans of romance and science fiction.Aries was a strong heroine - caring, compassionate, somehow vulnerable, yet daring. Though I have to say that my favorite character was Tiff. She was totally kick-ass, and though sometimes cold and cruel, she also had a vulnerable side. And the reason behind her actions weren't exactly bad. All she wants is a family and a place to settle down. Their world was so different to ours, and it was interesting to read about. I really wish we got to know more about Barliss, though.My only complaint would be about the ending. It just ends! I really wanted to know what happened to Aries and Striker, but most of all, what happened to Tiff, Loot, and Barliss. The cliffhanger ending for them made me want to scream. Really. This book was wonderfully written, with the perfect amount of action and romance. It was captivating, interesting, and enjoyable, with characters you can really connect to, and an interesting world you want to learn more about. I can't wait for book two! (There is one, right? Please?)
Aubrie Dionne's writing is phenomenal. The book never left me wanting or tempted to skim through in an effort to get to the good stuff. The entire novel is the good stuff. She revved up the action when I needed her to and slowed the pace at just the right moment. Aries isn't your run-of-the-mill kick-ass heroine. She's spent her entire life aboard the New Dawn, a colonial ship heading for a planet where mankind can start over. She's vulnerable and complex. She's not sure what she's going to do or how she's going to survive, but she's brave enough to try. Brave enough to believe that there's a better life in the universe than the confines of the ship, an assigned job, and an arranged marriage to a man she can hardly stand, let alone love. Striker is majorly swoon-worthy, tough and resilient yet gentle and caring. I've read some complaints that Aries fell in love too quickly, but I never felt this to be the case. I look at it as first love. Something Aries had never felt before and if you remember your first taste of love, you remember that it's always fast and intense. The secondary characters were equally as well-developed and intriguing. Barliss in particular demands your attention when he's on the page. I found myself despising him but at the same time wanting to see more of him. My only complaint is that it ended. I wanted more. There were a few things left dangling. Not enough to affect the storyline, but enough to give me hope that we're not completely done with Aries, Striker, Tiff or Barliss yet. The novel is labeled as A New Dawn #1, so I'm assuming a sequel is in the works. If this is the case, I can't wait for the next one. I loved this book and would recommended it to anyone who likes SciFi or romance.
Paradise 21 by Aubrie Dionne ¿¿¿¿¿ Earth had been unlivable for some time, and Aries had grown up on a spaceship called the New Dawn. To keep their race populated, people were matched together to wed and have children. Aries did not like the life partner chosen for her or the caged-in space ship. Aries decided to take her life into her own hands. She escaped onto a desert planet that could sustain life and that she had believed to be uninhabited by humans... until Striker had found her. Striker was a pirate who was marooned on the planet by his crew members and Aries was the first human he had seen in years. They worked together to repair an old alien ship to escape the desert planet and find another planet more like earth in hopes to leave before the New Dawn came back for Aries. This book was a different read for me and was more on the sci-fi side. It took me a while to get into it since it was a different world, but I ended up really enjoying it. It was a major, fast-paced, action-packed adventure. I read someone’s comment stating that it read like a movie and I agree. This could be made into a great movie with all of the action in it. There wasn’t room for dull moments. I liked that this book had multiple point of views, some of them I probably could have done without, but that is most likely because I liked the other characters better and just wanted to be focused on them - especially Striker, because he was awesome. The author created a wonderful adventure and I loved how there was always something going on. She knew how to keep me interested. It was a fun, well-written book. I look forward to continuing this series when I have more time. I received this book from the author for review.
Paradise 21 was a very refreshing read for me. The setting is far in the future. The Earth has become uninhabitable and humans are forced to live in space. The heroine, Aries, escapes from the New Dawn, a spaceship full of people who are locked into their lots in life by the very genes that make them who they are. Their genetic makeup decides their jobs and even who they have to marry. Intent on escaping her supposedly computer-arranged marriage, Aries takes an escape pod to a dangerous desert world, where she meets the space pirate, Striker. Striker carries his own emotional baggage after being abandoned on the planet by his crew, and the one person he thought he could trust. This is an exceptional tale. Aries is a bit naive in the beginning, but grows a lot as a character throughout the story. Striker grows as well, although he didn't have quite so far to go, in my opinion. There are also many very engaging--and not-so-engaging but still intriguing--secondary characters. I'm excited to read the next book of the series!
Aubrie was a new author to me and I loved this book by her! Once I started the book, I didn't want to put it down. Aries is a lifer on a Colonial ship and her genetic code is needed to continue humanity as they search for Paradise 21, a replacement for planet Earth which has been destroyed by man. She is betrothed to a dedicated lifer who she can't stand. Stryker is a pirate that Aries meets when she attempts to escape from the Colonial ship. Lots of pirates... and dangerous creatures... and alien technology... and romance... I'm looking forward to Book #2 in this series!!!!!!!!
I will say up front that I am not usually a science fiction enthusiast. I enjoy classic science fiction like War of the Worlds or The Time Machine. I chose to review this book because it was a romance, and it was something a little different. I went into this reading with an open mind. And I really found the writing style interesting, and I was intrigued by the story line. The love story fascinated me, and the science fiction elements were not too "out there." About halfway through the book, I found myself losing interest. But what kept me going was the love story. I just had to know what happened. And I was not disappointed. What did disappoint me was the the last 10 or so pages left many unanswered questions (maybe setting up for a sequel??) and tied up loose ends way too fast. I felt like the author threw the ending together and tried to hurry too quickly. Just my opinion. For true science fiction enthusiasts and those who love a good romance, this story would be a nice, light read. Be warned that there are some adult words (i.e. profanity), but they are not too prevalent. I did feel that they were usually unnecessary. There were thankfully no sex scenes--I always appreciate that! I was given a free review copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are 100 percent mine.
Aries is a spunky, strong-minded young woman who had me cheering for her from the first page. She's determined to carve out her own destiny, no matter the odds. And the challenges she faces are steep. Escaping from the New Dawn is one thing, surviving that escape is another thing entirely. Although labeled a pirate, Striker is pure hero material through and through. He'll do what's necessary, and he's not afraid to make difficult choices when needed. A soft spot for the underdogs and a hard edge for those who'd take advantage kept me reading to the end just to see if he'd attain his heart's desire. Three cheers for Ms. Dionne. She's created an engaging cast of characters, each desperately struggling to live their lives and find happiness in a universe where living things have all but become extinct. Her skillfully drawn characterizations are captivating. The world building is believable from the first page and enables you to sit back and enjoy the thrill ride that is Paradise 21. A tightly woven plot and a masterfully developed sub-plot will keep you turning pages. If you are sci-fi romance fan, I highly recommend this book. It's a fast paced adventure that's hard to put down. So hard in fact, that I read it in one sitting! I'm glad this is a series. I can't wait for the next book.
Paradise 21 takes you on a ride you'll never forget. Aries finds herself trapped in a world where she has no choices. As a Lifer, her husband and profession are chosen for the good of future generations. Determined to be her own person, Aries takes the ultimate risk and escapes the confines of New Dawn, a ship traveling toward Paradise 21. Landing on her targeted planet, Aries finds more than she ever expected - dangerous life forms and another human. Aubrie Dionne did a wonderful job. The story is well-written, vivid, and heart touching. I'd recommend this read to anyone who enjoys a fast-paced story that delves into a sweet romance set in a futuristic atmosphere.
There's nothing I love more in a romance novel than a strong female protagonist, and that's exactly what you get in Paradise 21. I liked the heroine, Aries, instantly; from page one I knew she'd take me for a ride that was--pardon the pun--out of this world. Rejecting her oppressive life aboard the New Dawn, where one's destiny is determined by a cold, sterile process rather than their heart's desire, Aries sets off on the dangerous journey of a lifetime. Ms. Dionne's emotively written Paradise 21 is about hope, the fight for a better life and forbidden love...with a sexy pirate. I highly recommend this new release in which the exciting plot is driven by unique, 3-dimensional characters you won't soon forget. Rhiannon Ellis--author of Bonded in Brazil and Dark Wolf Protector