LoveSpell, $5.99, ISBN 0-505-52547-X
Sci-fi Romance, 2003
I can go on describing the plot of this book all the way to the end and then I would have spoiled everything. Too Close to the Sun is an action-driven futuristic in every sense, and when one obstacle has been overcome, then comes another. Robin T Popp’s debut is not a bad read at all, especially if one has a fondness for campy action movies. Unfortunately, some of the elements of the story make me want to grit my teeth in pain.
Angel Torrence is a galactic smuggler. One day she shoots a particularly delicate portion of an alien fiend’s anatomy. She escapes her the aliens bent on vengeance, only to realize that it’s more than a retribution – it’s a terrorist attack when everything goes kaboom. She steals into a spacecraft, Icarus, to escape, only to learn that she has only gotten herself into another sort of trouble. Our hero Colonel Nicoli Alexandres Romanof is on the trail of another bunch of baddies called the Harvesters. To do that, he has transferred his life essence into his assistant’s vial and allowed his body to be taken by the Harvesters. Naturally, he barks at Angel to help him or else. No sissy please for our hero. It’s his way or else. Then, when she helps him gets back his body, she is captured and has amnesia as a result. And on and on and on to the happy ending.
I groan when I come across the phrase “sex slave”. “If I come across oracle, prophecy, and destiny, I’m throwing this book out the window,” I mutter to myself as I turn the pages. I really don’t understand the Harvesters. Are they harvesting bodies for sale as sex slaves or are they transferring life essences into those bodies? And why exactly is our hero Ecoli Butterpuffs on a solo mission? What exactly did Angel do anyway to the bad guy? When it comes to world-building, Ms Popp seems content to drop names and leaves everything at that without any in-depth world-building. Not a good thing.
But I really scream holy moly when the hero starts calling our heroine “Baby Girl”. I’m sorry, but while I can take “Baby” or “Darling”, “Baby Girl” is like razorblades shredding my brain to pieces. Ecoli Butterpuffs is a stubborn hero, sometimes obnoxiously so because all he really has to do is to be nice a little, and have him calling her “Baby Girl” is just completing his Alpha Daddy-Knows-Best Creepy Sugar Daddy image.
It is a good thing, then, that “Baby Girl” thankfully disappears from the book for the most part after the heroine regains her memory, but then we’ve hit another snag. Angel is a virgin, and the reactions that result when Ecoli Butterpuffs learns that firsthand is predictable. And the book just has to close with the hero calling the heroine “Baby Girl” one more time for prosperity. Actually, between “Angel” and “Baby Girl”, the terms of endearment in this book have me climbing up the highest wall I can find to flee the sugar flood.
While thankfully without the most overused futuristic plot devices like “oracle”, “prophecy”, and “magic sex to make baby boys will break any curse no matter how strong”, with those annoying apostrophe overkill blissfully absent, and without “fantasy” names like CatDog and PepperSalt cluttering up the pages, Too Close to the Sun is still muddled down by familiar female sexual stereotypes and an alpha hero who often comes close to blowing too hard for no good reason. It’s readable – if one can tolerate the “Baby Girl” thing – but at the same time, this book isn’t that much to shout about either. As a futuristic, this book is still stuck in a 1994 timewarp.