Author: Alison Aimes
I’m going to put this right up front because Alison Aimes’ debut book Trapped actually came with a warning right up front. I was puzzled by it. It doesn’t read like a trigger warning, instead, sounding more like a promotional blurb. At the outset there is an unequal power structure between her two main characters and the sex that takes place within it. That relationship changes over the course of the book, but if there was concern about criticism for it, don’t write it. Don’t come up with a premise and then apologize for it. If she feels it needs a trigger warning, put it out there simply and don’t dance around it.
Here’s the thing though, it would appear that Aimes set out to write an erotic romance set in space, but that’s not what she did. She actually wrote a very good science fiction novel where, dare I say it, the sex was almost superfluous. Not in its entirety, some would have been fine here and there to support the romantic elements, rather than use it to create them. To me, it almost felt out place in what was otherwise a well written book with good world-building and sufficient conflict to support multiple sub-plots. She probably could have dropped fifty-percent of the sex and expanded the epilogue. At only 220 pages, there was lots of room for more description, more dialog, more stress, more relief and I would have happily come along for the ride.
She successfully creates an alpha-male who comes off sympathetic, even scared, without losing any of his masculinity. It was nice to have such a prominent character be so un-full of himself. Convict 673 aka Caine completely lacked the cockiness of most alpha-males prominent in today’s romance literature. His female counterpart, Cadet Annabella “Bella” West, is intelligent. She makes choices for her survival, keeps her bargains, shows integrity, and doesn’t apologize for the consequences. She’s was a survivor even before she crashed into Caine’s life so her actions were consistent, even if they seemed extreme to her. I like these two characters and I like them together. I just wish I had more of them and not just more of them in bed.
One criticism was that in having her story thousands of years into the future, Aimes fell short in the cursing department. She developed a system of travel, government, and universal measurements for her future universe, but apparently swear words are still the same in the year 9015. It’s evident that she was using it to indicate something primal, even uneducated, but to me it felt out of place in otherwise intelligent dialog.
This is book one in the series and because it’s titled The Condemned, I suspect there will be more convicts in future installments. We have a couple of unaccounted for characters that will have to be found. What I really want, however, is another book with Caine and Bella as the main characters existing in their new relationship within the confines of the political power structure set up in Trapped. *fingers crossed*
Cadet Bella West has one simple objective when she joins the scientific mission to Dragath25, the notorious penal planet housing Earth’s condemned. Earn the credits necessary to save her family from starvation. But when her shuttle crashes and the majority of her crew perish, her simple mission becomes complicated fast. Now, to stay alive she’ll have to depend on one of Dragath’s own. But such protection doesn’t come free.
Convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, 673 has become more beast than man after eight grueling years on an unforgiving, hazardous planet of dirt and rock—and even more treacherous inhabitants. He doesn’t look out for anyone but himself and he certainly never grows attached. So when the bold female offers him pleasure in return for protection, he takes the deal without hesitation. He never expects how her touch will alter him. Or the growing realization that saving her may be the key to his own salvation.
But as dangers mount and their ‘simple’ deal unravels will he prove to be her surprise savior or her ultimate downfall? Because caring for someone on Dragath25 may prove the greatest hazard of all.
Release Date: March 1, 2016
Publisher: Orchid Publishing
Series: The Condemned #1
Genre: Sci/Fi Romance
Format(s): paperback (220 pages), e-book
Book Source: NetGalley
Trapped (The Condemned #1)