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Review by Riley

After you read my review, mark your calendar to return tomorrow to learn how Race to Redemption came to be.  Shari Elder will be the guest poster tomorrow.  I think you will enjoy her post!

About Race to Redemption

A woman who lost everything.

Intergalactic storm racing champion Elaina Carteret had it all—fame, wealth, men—until a horrific accident took it away. To get it back, she agrees to pose as Lainie Carter, medical transport pilot and corporate spy. Her risk-taking attitude infuriates Dr. Erik Johansen, who runs the medical outpost with an iron hand, a permanent scowl and the tightest bod on the planet.

A man desperate for redemption.

Unable to forgive himself for a past tragedy, Erik works himself into an early grave. He has no patience for the insubordinate Lainie Carter, who can’t take an order, disrupts routine, and flames his body to ash.

A planet at risk.

When the outpost is attacked, they’re thrown together in a race across the desert to stop a deadly biogenetic weapon. As a fragile trust blossoms between two damaged hearts, their pasts resurface and threaten their growing bond.

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Review of Race to Redemption

When I find some thing I like, but did not expect, I call it a “gem”.  Race to Redemption qualifies as a gem.  This books truly surprised me. It is the first Shari Elder book I have read, so I did not know what to expect. The book cover is not especially appealing to me.  The book blurb is enticing, but not a one-clicker. But I took advantage of Amazon’s look-inside functionality and read the first 4 chapters. Hook, line and sinker – I was caught.

First of all, Ms. Elder really knows her craft. In other words, she can write. Well. The short novel has the feel of a full-length book. Everything needed to tell a complete, complex, compelling story is there.  Did I mention she can write?  The story is littered with passages like these that make me think “I wish I could write like that”:

“A soft, innocent touch—bold in the way only a child can be, unaware of societal norms—wanting only what it wants and reaching out and taking it. It tugged at her heart.”

“Dark smudges built a home under clear green eyes and worry lines ran rivers across his brow.”

“His pain took concrete form, becoming a third passenger in the flyer with them.”

The story setting, a world/galaxy of privileged corrupt rich and poverty stricken poor sets the reader up for a story of class conflict, intrigue and maybe even a little revolution. The series title, Green Rising, refers to this conflict.  The high class structures that house the corporations and the elite corporate officials contrast sharply with the rundown drab dormitories that are homes to the poor workers.

The planet Ranhar’s desert environment is a factor in the plot from the desert racing domes to the desert medical outpost to the interesting ways the planet’s denizens conserve water (public baths). Much of the action took place on Ranhar, but to be honest, the inter-galactic setting was occasionally confusing. I often wondered exactly where we were.  Early chapters had headings, to help with orientation, but not all chapters had them.

Race to Redemption gets top ratings for exceptional characters. Elaina Carteret has something to prove. Dr. Erik Johnson has a history that compels him. They are easy characters to cheer for, but challenging to get to know. I mean that in a good way.  They are both nicely flawed.  These are both characters that have a past that takes time to be revealed but your patience will be rewarded.

The physical attraction between Elaina and Erik is immediate, even if it takes them a while to act on it. Expect some very sensual scenes with Elaina and Erik. The emotional attraction grows slowly.  With several obstacles between them, including the fact that Elaina is not who she says she is, one wonders if they will actually make it.

Early in the story, two Ranharran children end up at the medical outpost. These kids will draw you in, just as effectively as they captured the hearts of Erik and Elaina. They are very sick and the race to find a cure is a major plot point in the story.

From here, the action in the story accelerates. When the medical compound is attacked and the good guys are forced to go on the run, the storm racer must prove her real self to Erik. This will be a challenge that that both will have a hard time overcoming even while the antagonists are conspiring to make life difficult for both of them.

This brings me to the one part of the story I wasn’t crazy about. Bad guys/gals having sex. I enjoy a well written sex scene between caring adults that are physically and emotionally attracted to each other. But with the bad guys – not so much. Elder uses these scenes to establish the dynamics between the plotting, nasty evildoers, so they were useful. But I would have preferred an alternative method to reveal said dynamics.

I was very intrigued with storm racing.  Each racing scene reminded me of little Anakin Skywalker and his glorious pod race.  Except with the added hindrance of a storm.  Elaina is very proud of her skill as a racer and, at the beginning of the story, her whole life revolves around the sport, to the detriment of her family and her company, while it brings her fame and glory.  Race to Redemption has Elaina entering a different kind of race, where the outcome takes on far more significance for her.

The verdict. Yes, I may have mentioned one or two things that I wasn’t crazy about.  But, everything else about Race to Redemption is so great, I have to give it 5 stars.  This story is truly imaginative and quite exciting.  Race to Redemption is as twisty and thrilling as a level 20 desert storm!

The author provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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