Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Review: Broken Souls (Eric Carter #2) by Stephen Blackmoore

Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: DAW
Source: Publisher
Author Links: Goodreads | Twitter | Website

When necromancer Eric Carter returned to Los Angeles after fifteen years on the run he knew things were bad, but he never imagined how bad they could get. Sister murdered, best friend dead, married to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte.
And things are just getting worse.
His link to the Aztec death goddess is changing his powers, changing him, and he’s not sure how far it will go. He’s starting to question his own sanity, wonder if he’s losing his mind. No mean feat for a guy who talks to the dead on a regular basis.
While searching for a way to break Santa Muerte’s hold over him, Carter finds himself the target of a psychopath who can steal anyone’s form, powers and memories. Identity theft is one thing, but the guy does it by killing his victims and wearing their skins like a suit. He can be anyone. He can be anywhere.
Now Carter has to change the game, go from hunted to hunter. All he has for help is a Skid Row Bruja and a ghost who’s either his dead friend Alex or Carter’s own guilt-fueled psychotic break.
If things go right, he just might survive a week where everything is trying to kill him and nothing is as it seems.

This is nowhere near what I would consider my normal genre, but I really liked it anyway.
Broken Souls has that Pulp Fiction feel to it that made me think of hard-boiled detectives and L.A. noirish stuff.
Or at least, this is what I assume those books are like.
*cough, cough*
I've, uh, never actually read a True Crime story. But this was what I imagine they would be like.
Take my ramblings with a grain of salt.
Eric Carter isn't the kind of guy who has a girlfriend, he's the kind of guy who sometimes spends time with some dame who works at the diner.
Again. Not really. But in my mind that's what he does.
Also, in my head, he has a gravelly voice.
What? That was an important part of my internal reading experience!

Ok, I was a little nervous going into this, because I hadn't read the first book. But I gotta say, Blackmoore did an excellent job weaving the backstory from the first book into this one. There weren't great gobs of random info-dumps, either. I was lost for a few pages, but after that, it was relatively smooth sailing.

So an Aztec goddess of death killed his sister, and fucked up his life on multiple levels.
And, one shotgun wedding later...they're married.
Why? Read the first book and find out.
His mission is to find another mage with enough mojo to help him serve her divorce papers.
And when the book starts, he thinks he's found just the guy for the job.
Right up till the dude tries to skin him alive, all in the high hopes of wearing him as a meat-coat.
Yeah. Probably not the direction he was thinking their meeting would go.

Eric's sort of an assy guy, but you end up liking him anyway.
He's not a do-gooder, per say, but he's also not do-badder, either.
Do-badder is a real word. I looked it up. And since I've already done the work for you, there's no need for you to check and see if I'm lying. Really.
Even though Eric isn't the classic Knight in Shining Armor, he's still got enough of a good-guy vibe to keep you rooting for him.

The book's story centers on finding out who this skin-wearing dude is, and why he wants Eric so badly. But it also weaves into what is going on with his wife...and her ex-husband.
The plot is good, the pacing is tight, and the ending left me wanting more.
Like I said, it's not my normal cuppa, but I wouldn't hesitate to read the next book.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

[Coffee Shop Talks] Stomp vs. Romp - Which Do You Prefer?

Stomp vs. Romp is an event held by Carmel @ Rabid Reads & Jennifer @ The Book Nympho where they prove which is better - action or romance. I've always been (and always will be) Team STOMP! Give me a good UF with kick ass action scenes over a PNR with a hot romance any day. Don't get me wrong, I like some romance in my stories, but I prefer intense action scenes and a heroine that enjoys kicking supernatural ass.  

Some authors who write amazing action/battle scenes -


New Cover Art - Storm & Steel, Shadow Study, Half a War, & More!

Covers found through Amazon, Edelweiss, 
& Pinterest via Christina Reads YA.

Black Heart by Mark Smylie

Storm & Steel by Jon Sprunk

Half a War by Joe Abercrombie

Mark of the Black Arrow, Book 1 
August 4, 2015 | Titan Books

Soulfinders, Book 5
February 24, 2015 | Mira

The Barrow, Book 2
 August 4, 2015 | Pyr

The Book of the Black Earth, Part 2
June 2, 2015 | Pyr

The Line #2 | Carina Press | Dec 1, 2014

Shattered Seas #3 | Del Rey | June 16, '15

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Audio Book Review: Disenchanted by Robert Kroese

Release Date: August 21, 2013
Published By: Brilliance Audio
Source: Amazon Kindle Unlimited
Author Links: Twitter | GoodReads

King Boric the Implacable knows death comes to all great warriors. He just didn't expect it to be so damn fickle. Felled by an assassin's blade, he should be spending eternity carousing in the Hall of Avandoor. Instead, his spirit is bound to his decaying body by the enchanted sword of Brakslaagt. And unless he can hunt down the mysterious Lord Brand, who gave him the weapon so long ago, he is cursed to wander the earth forever as an undead wraith. So begins Boric's extraordinary journey across the Six Kingdoms of Dis as a walking corpse who wants nothing more than to be disenchanted and left in peace. His is not an easy quest: along the way he is burned, riddled with arrows, and nearly blown to bits. But when he finally comes face-to-face with Lord Brand, Boric will discover that nothing - in life, in death, or in between - is exactly what it seems.

Disenchanted was such a fun, entertaining story that the 6+ hours just flew by. I loved the adventure, the characters, the dialogue, and the humorous moments often had me smiling or laughing out loud. 

Kroese's writing is clever and his pacing rarely leaves room for a dull moment. The tale is told solely from King Boric's point of view and shifts back and forth between the past and the present as he searches for a way to release his cursed sword while also trying to withstand the process of becoming a wraith. As an added bonus, delightful little footnotes are also scattered throughout the story. 

I really enjoyed the narrator, Phil Gigante. His female impersonations were less than impressive, but his accents and gruff voices were great. I was excited to see that he also narrates Kevin J. Anderson's Zombie PI series, so I'll have to move that higher up the "listen-to-soon" list.

If you're in the mood for a comical fantasy (and really, why wouldn't you be?), then I would recommend downloading Robert Kroese's Disenchanted

Friday, August 29, 2014

[Blog Tour] Review & Giveaway ~ I Want it That Way (2B Trilogy #1) by Ann Aguirre

I WANT IT THAT WAY on Goodreads

Other Books in the 2B Trilogy:

Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she's determined to make them come true—for her parents' sake as well as her own. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, she barely has time to think, let alone date. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B….

Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can't risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, a social life is out of the question. The last thing he wants is for four noisy students to move into the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia's and Ty's paths cross, and soon they can't stay away from each other.

The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can't know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

Okay.  So Ann Aguirre writes new adult these days.  Of course I had to jump on this book.  Ann Aguirre's Sirantha Jax series is up there in my top series ever list.  I can't even begin to tell you that this type of books doesn't even begin to resemble Aguirre's past work in sci-fi and fantasy.  But I had to know if Aguirre could pull off a sexy new adult book.  Let me say it here first - Ann Aguirre is crazy talented.  Anyone who can write such a diverse body of work is a master writer, hands down.  Not only did this book have all the elements I look for in a new adult read, but it was based on a deeper meaning and the writing was more impressive than many books in this genre.

I Want it That Way (curse you Ann Aguirre for keeping that song in my head on repeat!) is the story of Nadia Conrad and Daniel Tyler.  Nadia is a hard working college student, studying to be a special needs teacher.  She is from a humble background - her parents don't have a lot of money, but they have managed to save enough to help Nadia out with her tuition at a small town, Michigan college.  When Nadia moves into her new apartment, she immediately meets Daniel "Ty" Tyler.  Let's just say that he's nicknamed "hot ginger" by Nadia's best friend and roomie, Lauren.

Ty is a 24-year-old night student and he doesn't have time for the normal college antics.  He has responsibilities.  Ty juggles caring for his 4-year-old son, Sam, working a full time job and completing his degree.  He isn't in a place where he wants to develop any relationships, platonic or otherwise.  He's a bit quiet, somewhat grumpy, and a lot vulnerable.

When Ty and Nadia meet, they are immediately taken by one another.  However, Ty has trust issues and does whatever he can to avoid Nadia.  And believe me, Ty's trust issues are well-founded and run deep.  Nadia breaks down Ty's barriers bit by bit - not with huge gestures, but with just being herself.  Ty and Nadia decide to give a "relationship" a go.  This is not a regular, run-of-the-mill boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, but Nadia is willing to take Ty any way she can get him.  When Nadia makes a mistake caring for Sam and Ty, he shuts down and shuts her out.

Ty pushes Nadia away, and frankly he comes off looking like an asshole.  I understand that he has trust issues and responsibilities, but he's a jerk to Nadia for no reason.  Nadia takes it all in stride.  The one thing I love about Nadia is that she is a strong female character.  She doesn't go out and drink Ty away.  She doesn't use someone else to make Ty jealous.  She doesn't throw a pity party.  Although she hurts, she is able to continue on with her life and eventually, find the strength to straighten Ty out.

The writing in this book is top notch.  Aguirre can write anything as far as I'm concerned.  The writing in this story was so much crisper and literary than other novels in this genre.  Ty and Nadia were written as completely realistic people.  They were in a realistic relationship, in a realistic world.  They made real decisions and dealt with real consequences.  This is a very genuine novel.

The only thing that I found a bit far fetched was Nadia's acceptance of a 4-year-old boy.  I know, I know.  Some people are like that.  But when I think back to when I was 21 and in college, I can't even imagine wanting or being capable of caring for a pre schooler.  And Nadia is a great care taker - knows exactly what to do with kids.  Even though she works in a day care/preschool facitilty, this kind of care does not come easilty to college student.

I Want it That Way is a story about trust and love, and learning that sometimes, you can't plan out how and when you love someone.  Sometimes, you fall in love at the worst time in your life, but it's the love that sees you through those dark times.  If you are a fan of new adult novels that reach for deeper meaning, then this is a story that you cannot miss.

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author and RITA winner with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. Ann likes books, emo music, action movies, and she writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens, published with Harlequin, Macmillan, and Penguin, among others.

Author Links:

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Review: Unborn (Unborn #1) by Amber Lynn Natusch

Release Date: August 26, 2014
Publisher: 47North
Source: NetGalley
Author Links: Goodreads | Website | Twitter

Born into mystery. Shackled to darkness…
Khara has spent centuries discovering everything about the Underworld―except her place in it. But when she’s ripped from her home, solving the riddle of her origins becomes more important than ever. With evil stalking her through the dark alleys of Detroit, she finds salvation from an unlikely source: a group of immortal warriors sworn to protect the city. Khara needs their help to unravel the tangled secrets of who and what she is—secrets many seem willing to kill for. But time is running out, and the closer she gets to the truth, the closer necessity binds her to an arrogant fallen angel.
Can their shaky alliance withstand that which threatens her, or will her soul fall victim to the unholy forces that hunt her―those that seek the Unborn?
From the author of the bestselling Caged series comes a pulse-pounding new series of supernatural romance

That cover is badass!
I went into this expecting lots of action, lots of magic, and lots of, well, badass stuff!
Aaaaaaaaand, no.
It's got an interesting premise, though. Khara had spent her entire life (centuries) living in the Underworld as Hades' ward. Or at least six months out of the year. The other half she spent with Demeter, while she mourned for Persephone. See, Khara is the trade-off that Demeter made to get her daughter back for half of the year.
So, who were Khara's real parents?
She had no idea, nor any burning desire to find out.
Until one day, when a Dark One swoops into the Underworld, rips her away from Hades, and drops her in the middle of Detroit. She's found by a one of Ares' sons, and the journey to find out which way her family tree branches is on.
There's a brooding fallen angel who's taken an interest in what happens to her, a twin brother that she never knew about, and a psychopath from the Underworld hot on her trail.
Sounds cool, right?
And it is...sort of.
Khara, and everyone else, talks like they're from a different time period. Which, isn't necessarily a bad thing.
But, couple that with the fact that Khara sounds and acts like an emotionless robot?
I get why she's like that. She had to be stoic and emotionless to survive centuries in the Underworld surrounded by psychos.
After a while, though? It got old.
I still really enjoyed this story, but after I was about 90% done with it, I was getting antsy.
Really antsy.
The chemistry between Oz and Khara, which I originally thought would sizzle...didn't. I'm not really sure when they even started feeling things for each other, due to the wooden dialogue. It certainly didn't help that Khara's inner monologue was lacking in emotion, and Oz's inner thoughts were off limits.

She finds out (relatively early on in the story, so I don't think this is a spoiler) that she has several half-brothers, and they turn into her protectors for the remainder of the book.
I know that this falls in line with the mythology part of the plot, but I was hella-skeeved that one of her brothers had a hard time keeping his eyes to himself. Worse, he was the one who was closest to her! Her BFF, if you will.
But he was such a horndog that he evidently had difficult time looking at her as his sister from time to time. Although, the vast majority of these incidents happened in the beginning.
For my personal taste, however, there were too many conversations that went like this:
Random Brother: Perv, remember that she is our SISTER! Stop looking at her like that!
Pervy Brother: I know, I know! I'm trying! It's just so hard to stop being a horny bastard!

There are quite a few glowing reviews for Unborn, but I think this is going to be one of those novels that isn't for everyone.
Having said that, I finished this one in two days, so it did hold my interest quite well. There was a lot of originality in the way the story unfolded, and in the way the mythology was played with.
If this sounds like something you'd be interested in, give it a shot. And even with all my complaints, I certainly didn't feel like this was a waste of my time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Excerpt & #Giveaway - Athena's Ashes by Jamie Grey!

Series: Star Thief Chronicles #2
Publisher: Clever Crow Press
Release Date: August 26th, 2014

It’s Renna’s biggest job yet – convincing MYTH leadership that she’s put away her lock picks and is ready to save the galaxy, despite the dangerous implant in her brain. But with the Athena on the run, she’s working solo and facing her most ruthless enemy, the traitor Pallas, who’ll go to any lengths to destroy the MYTH organization. Including framing Renna for a devastating assault on MYTH HQ that leaves their defenses crippled and hundreds dead. 

Now that MYTH believes she’s a dangerous double-agent, Renna escapes their firing squad before they put more holes in her than a pair of fishnet stockings. But the ticking time-bomb in her head is the one thing Pallas needs to complete his master plan and he’s not about to let her get away. Even worse, he’s discovered the only thing that will bring Renna to her knees – threatening Captain Nick Finn.

Out of time and options, Renna’s got one shot to take down the traitor before he annihilates everything she loves, even though winning this battle may cost her everything.

Jamie Grey spent most of her childhood writing stories about princesses who saved the day and pretending to be a daring explorer. It wasn’t until much later that she realized she should combine the two. Now, as a tech-obsessed gamer geek, her novels mix amazing scientific developments, future worlds, and the remarkable characters that live in them.

Jamie lives in Michigan with her boyfriend and their pets, who luckily tolerate her overspending on tea, books, and video games. You can learn more about her at www.jamiegreybooks.com, or follow her on twitter via @jamie_grey.

Win (1) copy of The Star Thief and Athena's Ashes, along with 
a copy of the ebook novella (All the books in the Star Thief Series) 
+ some Athena's Ashes swag (INT)

Win (1) $25 Amazong Gift Card (INT)

For someone who was supposed to be the best thief in the galaxy, Renna had been spending entirely too much time locked up lately.
Not that a high-security hospital room in a secret MYTH base was much of a prison for her, but the IV line snaking from her arm might as well have been a pair of Saltani iron handcuffs. She swung her feet over the edge of the lumpy bed and watched the holoscreen on the far wall. Stats scrolled past, red text on the black background. Her vitals were stable; blood pressure was fine. Looking at her chart, she was the picture of health.
Except for the cybernetic implant taking over her mind.
Renna rubbed the back of her neck where the original incision site had started to throb. It had been doing that a lot lately, thanks to Navang’s depraved experiments and the drugs he’d injected her with. Drugs he’d used to create a whole army of human-robot hybrids.
Thana Samil, the MYTH doctor in charge of her case, said it was nothing to worry about, but Renna knew better. In the five days she’d been locked up here in the MYTH facility, the pain in her head had only gotten worse.
And then there were the weird side effects. She hadn’t stepped foot outside her room, but she knew a bank of super-servers sat in the northeast corner of the facility, as if she’d drawn the blueprints herself. Communications relays resided on each corner of the roof. She’d even felt the throb of the automated defense cannons guarding the facility.
If the doctor and her team didn’t figure out how to slow down the integration between the implant and her nervous system, Renna would be a walking machine before she had the chance to stop the person behind all this.
If Renna’s hunch was right, the traitor was close enough to touch. Maybe even inside this facility. But she’d never find him if she was trapped here for the rest of her short life. She slid off the bed to pace the stark room, careful not to disturb the needles in her arm. Six steps to the door. Turn around. Six steps back to the bed.
She’d done this to herself. She’d volunteered to be locked away and dissected, just to keep Myka Aldani safe. To keep Finn safe.
Her pacing slowed as a pang of longing shot through her. Captain Nick Finn. Former gang member turned MYTH soldier and her first childhood crush. Now, she suspected that she’d fallen in love with him, which worried her. Renna had spent most of her life making sure that didn’t happen. Yet somehow his bright blue eyes, square jaw, and straight-laced moral code had slipped through her defenses.
And oh, the way his fingers had tantalizingly stroked her most sensitive places…
Renna felt herself go warm as she remembered the last time she’d been with him. She’d escaped from Navang, but not before he’d started the process of taking over her implant. Finn had spent the night in her room, waiting for her to regain consciousness, and she’d practically begged him to make love to her. She could still feel the heat of his skin. She inhaled, half-expecting to smell his scent—sandalwood, gun grease, and something that was inexplicably him.
She needed to know what was going on between them, and if that meant more bunk-side exploration, she’d totally take one for the team. But until she knew how to stop Pallas and put an end to these experiments, she wasn’t going anywhere, despite the urge she had to run back to Finn. She’d stay in this facility and let them poke and prod her, just to protect him and Myka. Even if it made her crazy.
The lock on her door beeped, and high-heeled shoes clacked across the threshold. Speak of the devil.
Renna turned as Dr. Samil entered the room. The young doctor wore a pleasant smile despite the slightly frazzled appearance of her long blonde hair escaping the messy bun she always wore. Renna leaned back against the edge of her bed. “Do you always have to look so happy at the prospect of stabbing me with those instruments of torture?”
Dr. Samil’s blue eyes sparkled. “For someone who’s done her share of killing, I can’t believe you have a needle phobia.”
“We all have our weaknesses,” Renna said with a shrug. “Pointy, shiny, metal bloodsuckers just happen to be mine.” 
Samil set her holopad down on the counter and pressed her thumb to the scanner to unlock the drawer. She pulled out a tray of tools. “I guess it’s time for the torture to begin.” 
The doctor brushed her bangs back off her forehead, and Renna gritted her teeth as she slid back onto the bed, preparing to be poked.
“How’d the last test go? Is the implant fusing normally?” Renna stared pointedly at the far wall as Samil fumbled with the glinting needles on the tray. “Or whatever normal is in this fucked-up situation.”
The doctor shook her head, flicking a finger against one of the syringes before pushing the plunger. Pink-tinged liquid squirted from the needle. “I wish I knew. I haven’t seen anything like this before. It’s fascinating.” Her voice was full of that breathless excitement Renna had come to hate. “Whatever Dr. Navang did prompted your ordinarily harmless implant to start fusing directly with your nervous system. If my hunch is right, any other cybernetic implants installed during this time would also fuse to your body. You could even start picking up other electronic signals.”
Renna flinched. Not only because of the quick jab of pain as the doctor deftly slid the needle into her arm, but because she was already picking up those electronic signals. Things were progressing faster than the doctor knew.
“Relax. I promise this won’t hurt.”
“That’s what Navang said.” Renna tilted her head and fixed Samil with a frown. “And look how that turned out.”
The doctor finished injecting Renna with whatever drug cocktail she was trying today, then smiled. “There. Wasn’t so bad, was it? I promise I don’t like torturing you any more than you like being tortured. Unfortunately, I need one more sample to check your antibody levels.”
“Of course you do.” Renna grudgingly let the woman extract a vial of blood and then crossed her arms as Samil slipped the vial into her pocket. “So what did you mean about the other implants?”
Dr. Samil nodded as she tapped some information into her tablet. “Navang wanted to create an army of hybrids he could control, right? Well, the first step was to keep their bodies from rejecting the modified implants he installed. But it didn’t work. His technique destroyed some of their own tissue and risked the constant rejection of the implants. Hence the need for a steady infusion of the anti-rejection medications.
“The new formula he tested on you was a different attempt at the same thing. If he could find a way to make your body fuse with the implant, make it think it was part of itself, eventually technology could overtake biology. Even better, when the process was complete, depending on the type of implant, he could have different types of soldiers. He’d be able to control them all using his neural network. They’d be nothing but mindless robots until he gave them orders.”
Samil’s voice rose as she spoke, her gestures growing even more animated, but a dull ache had started in Renna’s stomach. She remembered the expressionless eyes of the minions at Navang’s lab as she’d slaughtered them to ensure Finn and Myka’s escape. Her heart squeezed as she recalled Viktis’s assurance that she would make it. Her skin crawled at the realization that she was nothing more than an experiment to the doctor, a shiny new toy to be studied until the novelty waned.
But this was Renna’s life. She wasn’t going to sit here helpless while other people tried to save her. “How long do I have?” she interrupted before Samil could get even more excited. The woman positively hummed.
Samil paused, blinking at Renna. “Of course. Right. My assistant has had some success in creating a new drug to slow the fusion. It’s not exact, but I’m hopeful it will work.” Wispy, flyaway hairs floated around her face like a halo as she shook her head. “I’m confident we’ll have a breakthrough soon. I promise we’ll figure this out.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Doctor. The headaches are getting worse every day.” Renna rubbed at her sore temples, closing her eyes as a wave of pain started to build. She shored up the walls surrounding her heart and refused to even think about losing the connection she’d made with Finn. “On the plus side, if your drugs don’t work and the implant takes over my brain, I hear metal body suits are all the rage this year.”
Samil crossed her arms and leaned back against the table, a frown marring her pretty features. “You’re awfully calm about this whole situation.”
Renna shrugged. She was ten years younger than the doctor, but she suddenly felt like she was a hundred years older. “I’ve learned to deal with the unexpected in my line of work, doc. If you can’t change something, you figure out how to work around it. It’s the only way to survive.”
“That’s a cynical view of life for someone who’s only twenty-three.”
“You saw my file. I grew up in the Izan tenements on Earth, with a prostitute for a mother and a background in stealing. I’ve worked hard to move on, but growing up like that leaves a scar. Or two.” Renna forced herself not to touch the physical scar on her neck, the daily reminder of that life and everything she’d worked so hard to forget.
Thinking about her mother’s attempt to kill her in a drug-induced rage still made Renna flush with shame and hatred. Still made her wary of trusting anyone. Even Finn.
Samil’s expression softened. “I know. And for someone with your past, you’ve come a long way. You’re now part of an intergalactic organization, doing your part to save the universe. You’ve become something bigger than just a thief. I admire you for that.”
“If I had a choice, I would’ve been long gone by now. I’m no hero, and I certainly am not a team player. I don’t need to depend on a galactic organization. I just need myself.” Renna settled back against the pillows and crossed her arms. “MYTH can keep its good deeds. I’m just in this for the dental plan.” And just maybe to make sure she got a shot at happily ever after.
Samil chuckled, and Renna felt a responding smile twist her lips. Despite the needles and the fact that the doctor viewed Renna as a science experiment, she liked the woman. Samil was whip-smart, and if anyone could solve this puzzle, it would be her.
“What am I going to do with you, dove?” the doctor asked with a shake of her head.
“Save me, I hope.” But the doctor could stop using that stupid nickname any time now. Thinking of Renna as a meek little dove was laughable.
“I’m doing my best. I do wish Navang’s facility hadn’t been destroyed. If I had access to his drugs and research, it would make all of this so much easier. Or even Myka Aldani. At one time, he was the key to all of this.” 
Renna’s pulse jumped, and she dropped her gaze to the stark white tiles on the floor. This was exactly why she’d sent Finn on the run with Myka. Destroying the facility had been the only way to stop the human-robot hybrid army Navang and Pallas were building, but it had also signed Renna’s death warrant and put the kid in even more danger.
Had she made the right choice? Could she have stopped Navang another way?
“Do you know why Captain Finn destroyed the place?” Samil asked. “It doesn’t make sense. The captain doesn’t disobey orders.”
“You know Finn?” She clenched her hands in her lap at the unexpected pang of jealousy. The past seven years had changed Finn into a different person, and those years were wrapped in a protective cloak that seemed to surround his heart. He was different, but that Finn from her childhood still remained. She’d thought they’d have plenty of time to get to know him again, to figure out if there was, in fact, a relationship developing under her nose, but life never worked out the way she planned.
Samil nodded. “I was ship doctor for a year on the Athena. He’s a good man. It must have been something big for him to turn his back on MYTH.” Her blue eyes searched Renna’s. “Are you sure he didn’t tell you anything?”
A lump formed in her throat, and she had to swallow around it before answering. “Finn and I didn’t exactly get along when I came on board.” Sticking to half-truths was the safest bet for now, until she figured out who she could trust.
“Right. I’d heard he was angry that Major Dallas wanted him to work with a thief on the last mission. You, I presume?”
“Guilty as charged. He wasn’t likely to confide in me either way.”
“Probably not. I know how he felt about people like you.” Samil’s eyes widened. “I mean, people who don’t follow the law.” She shook her head with an apologetic frown. “I’m sorry, this isn’t coming out right. I just mean Finn’s a good man. For him to go on the run from MYTH means something is seriously wrong.”
Renna nodded. “I get it. I’m a thief. Untrustworthy. But I was hired to do a job and that’s what I did.”
“I didn’t mean anything by it, Renna. I’m sorry.” The doctor glanced at the door. “Now that I’ve put my foot in it, I’m going to go make sure my assistant has your newest sample. Stay positive, Renna, it’s going to be fine.”
“I hope you’re right because it feels like my brain is about to ooze out my ears.”
Samil unlocked another drawer with her thumbprint and rummaged inside. She pulled out a small, flesh-colored disk. “Here, put this medipatch on. It should help with the pain.”
Renna slapped it on her arm. “Thanks, doc. I’ll see you later. Hopefully much, much later.” 
Samil smiled as she left. The door swished shut behind her, and the sound of the lock re-engaging echoed through the room.