Commander Brongill of Da'Hap from the planet, Terrill has been sent to Earth on a mission to rescue the descendants of a Terrillian ship that crash landed there centuries ago. Since that time the Terrillian population has diminished and is on course for certain extinction unless they can cure a virus that prevents their females from carrying babies to term. One woman among the survivors, Alderina Rutgers, holds the key to curing Terrillian sterility. When she and her three children are abducted by the alien race, taken aboard their ship, and told that they are part Terrillian, she couldn't be more shocked. Considering that she has spent the last several years on the run from the mob, she is willing to go with the aliens to see if she can help. Little does she know that Brongill is actually out for revenge and intends to use Alderina to accomplish that goal, but when a mysterious assassin sabotages the ship and begins to leave a trail of dead bodies in their wake, with Alderina apparently slated as the next target, Alderina and Brongill must work together to defeat their common enemy.
I had a rather difficult time deciding how to rate Hiding Space for a couple of different reasons. First of all it appears to be categorized as sci-fi romance, but I wouldn't really classify it as such. In my mind, it is first and foremost a science fiction story with only the barest hint of romance. The two main characters do form a mild attraction for one another, and at the end, it is implied that they are going to be sharing a home, but they never even so much as kiss during the course of the novel. Going into reading this story thinking it was a romance, but getting so little romantic interactions was somewhat disappointing. I admit I don't have a great deal of experience with sci-fi romance and those I have read tend to focus more on the action/adventure aspects, but in this case the romance was almost negligible in my opinion. However, the upside to the lack of sensuality is that I can recommend the book for most readers including mature teens, as there is little objectionable content except for a couple of strong profanities and a couple of instances of moderately gory violence. The downside of course is that I wasn't fully satisfied with the story.
The other thing that made Hiding Space difficult to rate is that I spent a large parts of the book feeling lost and confused. At the beginning of the novel, I kind of felt like I'd been dumped into the middle of the story and had very little concept of what was going on. I think perhaps a little more background set-up to explain why the aliens were abducting Ally and her children would have been quite helpful. All I knew was that they were somehow the key to the survival of the alien race. There are also bits involving an anonymous assassin that come and go rather quickly and at the time, I didn't really understand at all what his/her objective was. I realize this was all part of the author's attempt to create an air of mystery and intrigue and on some level it did work. She slowly revealed more and more tidbits of information which gradually increased my understanding of the backstory. I think I finally understood most of the overarching plot by the end, but there were still many of the finer points of the socio-political climate between the planets and races that continued to elude me. I normally pride myself on having excellent reading comprehension, but there was just something about the way this book was written that simply didn't mesh well with the way my brain functions. Maybe it was because most of the information was imparted through narrative dialog which isn't my favorite way of learning about things. Some of it must have absorbed into my sub-conscious mind though, because I did correctly discern, in part, who the saboteur was before it was revealed.
Even though I had some trouble keeping up with the complex background plot, I did very much enjoy the action/adventure sequences. There were plenty of exciting things happening that held my attention. It was almost like reading an episode of Star Trek. Also, some of the concepts that fueled the story were interesting such as the warriors ability to separate body and soul, leading to battles in a type of spirit realm. I also liked that Brongill's spaceship, Tyche, is a character in and of itself, a sentient life-form with which he can communicate telepathically. The nanites that are able to fix and create things were rather fascinating as well.
Hiding Space is definitely more of a plot-driven story than a character-driven one. I didn't feel like there were a great deal of insights into the characters' internal workings, but what I got to know of them I liked. Ally is a widow who was toughened up by having to deal with her mob-connected in-laws who murdered her husband and had been chasing her family for years. For her, being abducted by aliens was practically a walk in the park. Her three children were great too and added a fun, youthful flavor to the story. Their exact ages aren't given but based on their behavior I'd guess they ranged from about six to sixteen, and they all acted age-appropriately. Brongill is a bit more mysterious. As commander of the ship, he has a mission to complete, but at the same time, he has a personal vendetta to settle. That includes killing Ally, but the more he gets to know her, the harder it is for him to go through with his plan. It seemed like Brongill (and perhaps the aliens in general) have suppressed emotions. As Ty teaches him about human love and courting rituals from her database, he seems rather fascinated by the concept but it's still a foreign one to him. I thought that it would have been fun to explore that side of him more fully, and it probably could have led to a much more robust romantic relationship as well. Ms. Andrews has an upcoming sequel to Hiding Space titled Animosity which follows Ally and Brongill as they continue to try to bridge the gap between alien races, only now as a married couple. Even though I had some issues with the details of Hiding Space, I did enjoy the characters and the story enough to give the sequel a try when it comes out. I think it might be fun to see what kind of new adventures they have together. I'll just have to be sure I go into it not expecting much romance.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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