If anyone deserved to get fit-shaced, Penny Jones did. So what if the Marshals got pissed? As if making her lie to everyone in her life wasn’t bad enough, they also had to mandate no drunkenness. Who wouldn’t feel the need to get drunk after hearing about the big C?
And with that first, information-packed paragraph, we meet the main character of Intergalactic Matchmaking Service: Penny’s Story. Within a few chapters, we learn that she had a one-night stand, became pregnant, chose to delay cancer treatment in favour of having the baby, and then finds herself terminally ill with an infant she needs to ensure the future of. No spoilers: that’s what the back-of-book blurb tells the reader as well.
Since this is a science fiction romance novel and not a short story, there’s a twist: Penny’s estranged sister, Claire, just happens to be the American co-ordinator for the Intergalactic Matchmaking Service, and the alien species she liaises with, the Nordonians, just happen to be able to cure, or at least control, cancer in humans. However, this being a novel that stands firmly in the romance genre, there are complications.
Marko was excited to be a part of the “team” around the first Nordonian babies born in thirty years. It would also be nice to be able to help Claire’s sister with her disease, but he realized that would most likely never happen. The directives from the Council were clear . For Claire’s sister to receive Nordonian help, she’d need to have a Nordonian mate.
The blending of science fiction and romance (and xenophilia, for that matter)is an established literary tradition, dating at least to the John Carter of Mars stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Some stories are more strongly science fiction, others are more strongly romantic. Penny’s Story is more of a romance with science fiction elements than a science fiction story with a romantic plot. The reader learns why the Nordonians are so interested marrying Earth women, and a little bit about where they come from, but the real focus is on the specific characters in the story. The scope is of a cozy romance, not a sweeping epic.
Despite this, I found the most effective parts of the story were the action sequences. As one might guess knowing that Penny is in Witness Protection, she has criminals after her, and there are key scenes where one set of characters have to rescue others. The action worked well within the story, and was a good vehicle for character revelation, especially for how the Nordonians handled themselves. In fact, the Nordonians were perhaps the most well-rounded characters in the book. The reader has the opportunity to gain a lot of sympathy for their situation, and admiration for how they are handling it.
If you enjoy romance novels with some fantastical elements, I’d recommend Penny’s Story, with two major caveats. The first is while there is no explicit sex (just implied), some of the violence took me aback, more for its details than for its extent. In the country I live in, no-one brings a gun into their workplace unless they’re a police officer, a soldier, or a professional hunter. There are scenes in the book where an office worker brings a handgun to their place of work, just taking it in stride as a matter of necessity. It was important to the plot, so I can’t say it detracts from the story. I did find the various characters’ reaction to it disturbing and distracting, however. For that reason, I'd issue a caution to readers used to places with more gun control.
The second caveat is that since the Nordonians are exclusively male, and exclusively looking for fertile Earth women to have marriages and babies with, Earth men are entirely relegated to secondary characters. Virtually all of the women in the book (it's not just Penny) end in a relationship with a Nordonian. Again, no spoilers, since the relationships are established early in the book. I was comfortable with this as part of the story's focus, but men who read romantic fiction and others may feel excluded.
About the Book:
“Penny’s Story” — Penny was supposed to be dead. At least that is what Claire has believed for ten years. Find out what happens when Claire's sister comes out of the Witness Protection Program. Penny is fighting a losing battle with cancer and needs Claire to raise Sunny, Penny's newborn daughter, once the cancer takes its final toll. Why is Penny's ex-boyfriend, Jason, telling his cronies that Penny has money and information about their illegal dealings? How does the cartel find out she has even left the Witness Protection Program?
Will Marko have to watch as another woman he cares for dies a horrible death? Will he lose his job as Medical Officer on the starship for bending the rules? Can Pacer finally have the peaceful retirement he desires? How will Claire deal with her quiet life being turned upside down? Catch up with Maggie and Daxon, along with Shirley and Mathenzo.
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (November 30, 2014)
All of the Intergalactic Matchmaking Services books are available as an e-book on Amazon.
About the Author:
Ava Louise was born a U.S. Army brat overseas, in France. She is the proud mom of two wonderful young men. It's taken her a while to figure out what she wanted to be "when she grows up," but Ava has finally found her niche in the writing world. Since writing came to her later in life, she likes to think she is living proof that it's never too late to reach for a dream or to achieve it. Before writing her own stories, she usually reads from a wide array of genres. She loves Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Mysteries, Thrillers, and Young Adult.