Escape Velocity (Valiant Knox #1) by Jess Anastasi #BookReview #ScifiRomance
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
The opening to Escape Velocity is gruesome and eye-opening, and a little shocking in its sheer, imaginative tenacity. As Commander Kai Yang escapes from a horrible prison, the reader experiences the risk and the desperation and the nastiness of the situation right along with him. The opening few chapters of Escape Velocity are so immersive, they effortlessly pull you under, until you’re so wrapped up in the characters and their emotions that you could be sitting right next to them, watching it all unfold with a psychic eye.
Despite her hold on him, he leaned closer. “Always so calm and collected. One of these days, you’re going to lose control. I’m going to make you lose control.”
Oh, god. Just the tenor of his low voice was almost enough to make her break. Her fingers contracted on his shoulders, digging into the muscles beneath his shirt. She gulped in a breath, and he closed the remaining distance between them. But he didn’t kiss her.
No, he brushed right by her mouth, his lips landing on the edge of her jaw, just below her ear. A shudder rocked her, and she only just managed to curb the moan wanting to slip free. His mouth moved up, over her lobe, breath spiraling warm against her skin. “Tell me again, Sacha, why we can’t have this between us?”
She opened her mouth, but no words came out, as if her brain had vacated the premises. Maybe just one kiss wouldn’t hurt. After all, they’d shared a kiss or two already, and it hadn’t really hurt anything…
Her comm vibrated in her pocket with a spell-breaking trill.
The sexual chemistry between Sasha and Kai is stunning, and their personal history lends some serious potential energy to their will-they-won’t-they budding romance.
Kai had returned and revived her emotions with all the subtlety of a tactical ballistic missile.
The romantic arc of the story is authentic and gut-wrenching. The Valiant Knox’s futuristic medical equipment may have mostly healed Kai’s abused body, but as a former POW, he is just starting his journey toward emotional recovery. And a relationship with his doctor, beyond professionalism or friendship anyway, will only mire him in dependency—no matter how hot they are for each other or how deeply he truly does love her. I love this dynamic in the story. It adds a believable element of tension and supports the very real and nasty mental repercussions of PTSD. The portrayal of the Commander’s psychological trauma and the way it naturally ramps up, along with the subtle little story and relationship clues that support it, is simply masterful. I was left with a few outstanding questions from the general plot arc (which I can’t voice without giving away spoilery details), but hopefully those are tied into the greater story universe and will be explored in the next installment of the series.
Oh the feels, so very many feels! Escape Velocity reads more like a modern day military romance than a sci-fi, but has enough space lingo and tech mentions sprinkled organically about to satisfy lovers of the genre. The tension throughout this entire story is delightful—not just romantic tension, but action- and plot-inspired too. Escape Velocity is one of those stories that is straight-up great, no matter its genre or subject matter. Luckily for romance readers, it also happens to feature some pretty juicy chemistry.
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