LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52516-X
Sci-fi Romance, 2002
If you’re tired of the usual “futuristic” romances featuring half-witted psychic empath virgin princesses of a subjugated tribe being enslaved by some barely-civilized Fabio cosplaying Buck Rogers, Patti O’Shea has a treat for you in Ravyn’s Flight. I won’t go as far as to call the heroines (there are two here) kick-ass types, but they… well, they’re better than the half-witted psychic empath Space Barbies thing anyway.
Since I am a picky reader, it’ll probably be only me who is disappointed with this story. Patti O’Shea writes romances, true, but must she make the romance heroines so romance-heroine-ish? I want kick-ass space babes. I don’t want helpless babes needing to be saved, although the heroines here are a bit more intelligent than your average empath/virgin braindead Space Barbie.
The story starts out very promising, violent even, with our heroine shivering in terror as she hides away from a scene of carnage that have destroyed all her crew mates. It’s sort of like the Predator versus Alien thing, really. Cool. Ravyn Verdier is a communications specialist in a special team sent to test whether Jarved Nine is suitable for colonization. Obviously, the answer is now no.
Damon Brody leads the Special Operations or Spec Ops team sent to rescue what’s left of Ravyn’s team, only to realize that the murdering fiend is the one who sent the rescue signal. Before we can say “Oops, my bad!” Damon and Ravyn are the only ones left and it’s a race for survival.
In the meantime, another Spec Ops team is sent to investigate the missing two teams. This team, we have Ravyn’s brother Alex leading a crew, among whom is Stacey, Ravyn’s best friend and the one who has been in love with Alex forever and ever and heaven help us all, Lil’ Miss Thing here is going to use this mission as a Prove Myself Or Kill Everybody Along With Me thing.
The violence is never elaborate, except for maybe a brief paragraph describing some gory things the creature do to its victims, but there is violence. This is why I find myself expecting something a little bit different, something taut, scary, and atmospheric like Pitch Black with a happier ending, perhaps. There are taut pacing and very good build-up of suspense and anticipation, so if this book is Patti O’Shea’s debut, I am in awe.
But really, the heroines. Stacey is annoying as the earnest/pouty “I’m doing all to prove myself and my love to that man of mine!” heroine, and Ravyn is a disappointment. After her initial show of strength and courage, Ravyn soon turns into one of those bizarre heroines who would whine about bathing and luuurve and even endangering them both one or twice. These women cannot match or even be useful to their lovers, in fact they actually rely on or depend on these men. Hence my disappointment. I mean, come on, look at Aliens, look at Pitch Black, look at any of the better-made science-fiction movies starring women in lead roles out there. They kick ass. They can be vulnerable, yes, but they are never deliberately dumbed down or weakened just to be helpless (are helpless heroines more “romantic” or something?).
Still, it is a good story, and it is a step up from the usual Space Empath Virgin Nitwit Princess Barbie stories. While staying faithfully within some of the more frustrating limitations of the romance formula, Ravyn’s Flight still manages to entertain me. Now just give those heroines a giant bazooka (and I mean a real bazooka, if you don’t mind) in their hands and then I’ll be a happier reader.