Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Advanced Review- Rulebreaker by Cathy Pegau

Advanced Review-


By Cathy Pegau
Aug. 11, 2011
Sci-Fi/ f/f
89K words
Publisher: Carina Press

Coming AUG 8th

Buy it Amazon (Kindle), Carina Press

Liv Braxton's Felon Rule #1: Don't get emotionally involved.
Smash-and-grab thieving doesn't lend itself to getting chummy with the victims, and Liv hasn't met anyone on the mining colony of Nevarro worth knowing, anyway. So it's easy to follow her Rules.

Until her ex, Tonio, shows up with an invitation to join him on the job of a lifetime.

Until Zia Talbot, the woman she's supposed to deceive, turns Liv's expectations upside down in a way no woman ever has.

Until corporate secrets turn deadly.

But to make things work with Zia, Liv has to do more than break her Rules, and the stakes are higher than just a broken heart...

I was excited to read Rulebreaker for several reasons. I’ve read snippets of other stories on author Cathy Pegau’s website and enjoyed her writing, her style. Also, this book has a f/f love story and it’s sci-fi, a combination that’s fairly unique. I wasn’t sure what to expect since this is the author’s first published book, but I can tell you that I loved it.

I’ll be honest; it’s going to be hard for me to review this book. There were so many elements that I enjoyed, but how do you describe why you like chocolate vs. vanilla? It’s easier to come up with reasons I dislike a book. I’d love to do it justice though.

The plot: the plot of this story was definitely fun and unique. It’s about a group of con artists. It starts out with the heroine, Olivia, and her partner in crime almost getting killed by robbers at a bank they were in to actually rob. What a start! It sucked me in right away. When it turns out that one of the actual robbers is Olivia’s ex-husband, Tonio, even more interesting. It’s a great set-up for future conflict and set the intensity and excitement level kept throughout the book.

Outside of the main plot of Olivia and Tonio joining forces with others to con a major corporation, there’re juicy little side issues going on that created a lot of added tension and gave more insight to some of the characters. One is Olivia’s mother, a con artist herself who reinserts herself into Olivia’s life causing a lot of internal conflict for Olivia to deal with.

Although set far into the future, created with intricate world-building, typical social problems of the 21st century are present like corporate greed and abuse as well as current privacy issues of living in an high-tech world. I liked the contrast of future/present, which gave this story elements of familiarity and tension. Heh

The characters: Olivia, the main character, is a scrapper type who grew up in the world of con artists. Her mother taught her everything she knew, even used her in cons as a child. Olivia works at a normal, boring job to make money between robbing banks, but it doesn’t give her that adrenaline rush she craves. While she doesn’t think twice about screwing people over for a con, she is the reluctant hero/heroine type, which I love.

Her part of the con is to seduce a high-level executive to get information. Unfortunately, she develops a conscience where Zia is concerned, which screws her up. She’s a flawed character, which made her even more three dimensional and interesting.

Tonio is Olivia’s ex-husband and con artist himself. He pops back into Olivia’s life and asks her to work with him on a huge job. There’s still a fair amount of sexual tension between them even as they make it clear to each other that working together and sharing a space doesn’t mean slipping back into old patterns. Other partners on this job are definitely sketchy and he spends a lot of time watching her back against those guys even as he has his own greed in keeping it going.

I liked that while the sexual tension was there, he doesn’t push her nor does he act on advances from her. Actually I rather enjoyed that they are closer due to a friendship and having a shared intimate past. There’s something comforting in that. He’s a good, decent hero that everyone loves.

Zia is the mark who Olivia is to seduce and she's a lesbian. As a character, unfortunately, I couldn’t get as good a feel for her as the others. I think this is because of the 1st person POV from Olivia. Since Olivia has a past and lots of history with Tonio and her mom, I got a good feel for who those characters were through Olivia’s eyes. Since Zia is a new person to Olivia, there’s not as much insight from Olivia about who Zia is.

What I did get about Zia is that she’s a cool, tough, corporate executive who doesn’t take crap and who seems to not have a soft side. She also seems to be up to some nefarious things herself. Although as she and Olivia get to know each other, it’s clear that Zia is more vulnerable than she lets on.

Outside of the main characters, the rest of the characters are distinct and vividly drawn out, which added a lot more depth to this story.

The romance: this is hard for me to say because, well, I love f/f romances, but I just wasn’t really feeling the love story between Olivia and Zia. YMMV on that though. The trouble is I can’t put my finger on why. Their love story is built slowly enough to have a realistic development and build-up, all the right words and actions are used, their interactions are normal for a romantic story, but I just didn’t feel any real heat between them.

Part of that was most probably because I wasn’t feeling who Zia was. What her perspective was with Olivia. I couldn’t feel why she’d be attracted to Olivia other than Olivia is efficient, which I can see Zia would be turned on by. But what was personally going on that she became attracted to Olivia was missing for me. I also couldn’t feel why Olivia is attracted to Zia other than she feels sorry for and protective of her.

That said, by the end I did feel that they could be a long term couple and that they really loved each other. Their sex scenes were sensually written and I loved that Olivia accepts falling in love with a women with aplomb. It’s like, oh OK, I love a woman now. That’s it not a big deal was a huge plus for me. Moreover, their interaction causes a lot of conflict in Olivia, which causes her to rethink her life and what’s important, creating character growth.

And to be honest, the rest of the book was so good that the romantic issues weren’t really a big problem to me. I experienced this book more as an exceptional sci-fi suspense/detective/thriller with romantic elements.

All in all Rulebreaker is an excellent read. It’s suspenseful and has a lot of interesting twists and side corridors that are fun to go down. The writing is smooth with a perfect pace, which kept me on edge until the end. I can’t wait to read more of Ms. Pegau’s books. I’d love to read more from this sci-fi world that Ms Pegau has skillfully and colorfully created.

Heat Level: 3 – a few f/f sensually written scenes. Not very graphic but not side stepped as either.

Grade: A-


Writer and Cat said...

Great review of a great book :). Of course I'm a little biased...

Jill Sorenson said...

totally agree! I read this and enjoyed the same things about it that you did. I also had the same problem with the romantic elements. My grade isn't quite as high. Looking forward to more from this author though!

Great review.

LVLM(Leah) said...

Jody- :D

Jill- I gave it a high grade because I loved the book overall.

I thought it's really well written, very polished, engaging and it was a unique story. While the romantic elements didn't really send me, they didn't piss me off or annoy me either. It's a "nice" love story, so it's not something that really had a negative or any impact on my feeling to the book.

Cathy in AK said...

Thanks, Leah. I appreciate the time and thought reviewers put into books : )

LVLM(Leah) said...

Cathy- I hope more is coming. :)