Author: Foster Bridget Cassidy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Publication date: June 21, 2019
Length: 175 pages
Reviewed by Sammy
A case of mistaken identity could lead to love for an aloof starship captain and a brilliant if underappreciated mechanic from the sticks—if they can survive the dangerous mission assigned to them.
Ginnovi Oshwald just needs someone to give him a chance. He can keep anything running, despite the “spark” his body produces that sometimes wreaks havoc with electronics. Gin gets his chance when Captain Lian Hartford comes to Tallahassee in search of a mechanic. The trouble is, he’s looking for Gin’s sister. But since he only has a name to go by, Gin tells a little white lie. What could go wrong?
Lian loves his ship and his work as a diplomat but has difficulty connecting with others—only partly because of his mixed human and alien heritage. Something about the eccentric mechanic intrigues him, though, and their easy friendship could become more… if they live long enough to broker peace between humanity and a hostile race while pacifying a crew that thinks Gin belongs in prison.
For a novella, Spark in the Stars really packed a huge story into a leaner page count. Author Foster Bridget Cassidy offers up an exciting sci-fi story complete with a brand new world, different races of both aliens and humanoids and a romance that plays up how opposites do attract. While the relationship part of this book felt a bit forced there is no denying that the rest of this story was very well done.
Gin has always been somewhat of a disaster when it comes to being around the thing he loves—mechanical objects. From the time he was very young an accident in his father’s shop left Gin with a spark—a jolt of electricity pulsing through his body that often rears its head at the most inopportune times and makes his fingers a conduit for explosive reactions. Touching the rubber bands he always ties back his hair with seems to ground the spark but too often Gin’s sister, Temina, needlessly belittles him and makes him angry which is when he loses focus and trouble often follows. When just such an occasion ends with a minor catastrophe at their mechanic shop, Temina tells Gin he must find another job. Gin is heartbroken and goes to the local bar to nurse his hurt feelings and that is where he meets Captain Lian Hartford.
Lian is looking to recruit a new mechanic for the ship he loves. Temina Oshwald is supposedly the best and he wants him on his crew. Not only does Lian not know Temina is a girl but when he meets Gin he thinks he has met Temina and Gin does not disavow him of that belief. This is Gin’s chance to go off-world and make his mark—now if only he can keep his real identity in the dark and not let the good captain see just how infatuated he is with him.
Spark in the Stars begins with a bang. I was immediately fascinated by the futuristic earth setting and the different alien beings the author introduced so seamlessly into the story. I loved how even those who were essentially humanoid in appearance often had a dual genetic makeup—part human and part alien. Rather than overstate the obvious as so many sic-fi novels are wont to do when they have those of mixed race, Cassidy touches on the subject with great care and compassion and then moves on to create a compelling story that moves swiftly. We know that his genetics affected how Lian saw himself and how others treated him but the idea that he then made up the crew of his ship with similar people who were like him was really a wonderful side plot. I really liked Lian—he was definitely a “by the book” kind of man but slowly Gin’s infectious joy at being on board wears him down.
It was understandable that these two would be attracted to each other but unfortunately the story rather abruptly made that happen. Suddenly Lian put aside all his reservations about dating a crew member and went full in with Gin. My one reservation with this story was actually that very quick capitulation on Lian’s part and then Gin’s immediate acceptance of it. While we had some warning that Gin was smitten and crushing on Lian, there was very little groundwork laid for these two guys to suddenly fall in bed with each other and then move on to declarations of love just a short time later. I think had that part of the story line been better developed this novella would have benefited greatly.
Spark in the Stars most assuredly was a solid sci-fi novella that had all the right elements to make it a success. I enjoyed this story and despite the abrupt introduction to Gin and Lian’s romance this was still a really nice addition to the sci-fi genre.
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