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Review by Riley

About Verdant String

The seven planets of the Verdant String, the green, fecund sources of life spanning five solar systems, comprise the Verdant String Coalition. This is the setting for a new science fiction romance series from award-winning science fiction romance novelist Michelle Diener. While the people of the Verdant String know they have a common ancestor, a group of explorers who colonised the planets at the same time a thousand or more years ago, the mysteries of who they were, and where they came from, persist.

About Interference
(A 25,000 word novella introducing the world of the Verdant String)

Interference can go either way . . .

The tiny moon of Cepi is on a countdown to destruction, and while Nyha Bartali has been persuaded to take her four wards for a final look at the archaeological wonder, now she’s eager to leave. The only problem is, someone has other plans–plans to exploit Nyha and her girls’ status as the betrayed orphans of the Verdant String in order to give them time to steal Cepi’s secrets.

Nyha and her wards’ value as survivors of the destruction of Halatia means it would be political suicide for any leader of the Verdant String to endanger them again–something the hostage-takers know very well. What the hostage-takers don’t know is that Nyha and her girls have more help than they realize.

Mak Carep knows his team’s presence on Cepi is the last flex of Arkhor’s muscle before the moon is blown to bits. Arkhor has interfered on Cepi since it discovered the ruins four hundred years ago, but sometimes, interference can have unexpected consequences. When Nyha and her girls are taken hostage, Mak and the rest of his special forces team are the only ones who have any hope of rescuing them, and they’re ready and willing to do what Arkhor does best . . . Interfere.

About Insurgency
(A 45,000 word short novel set in the Verdant String series)

The Parnian city of Var is under siege. Buildings are being targeted by insurgents whose only aim seems to be destruction. Nick Bartega is part of the Protection Unit team investigating the explosions, but with no discernible pattern, and no one taking responsibility, he and his colleagues have hit a blank wall.

That is until his neighbor, Tila, is caught up in the first real mistake the insurgents have made. Cornered, forced to take Tila’s whole office hostage, the insurgents are surrounded and out of options, until they use Tila as their shield.

Tila sees herself as Parnian first, Halatian second, but her dark blue hair, and the strong emotions her very existence provokes in others means the insurgents see her as the perfect hostage. No one on Par wants to give the order that might catch her in the crossfire. They’d rather let the insurgents get away.

But Nick, and his commander, Drake, see the first glimpse of a pattern in the insurgents behavior. Not that long ago, Halatians were used as hostages in another incident on the tiny moon of Cepi, and the parallels are hard to ignore. So is this attack on Var an isolated incident, or is there a bigger conspiracy at play?

Whatever the truth, Nick isn’t prepared to leave Tila in the insurgents hands. And he’s prepared to break any rule, and disregard any order to do it.

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Review of Interference and Insurgency

Another new series from Michelle Diener!!!  Yes – I am happy!  As far as her SFR series go, Class 5 and Sky Raiders, each one is unique in setting and in atmosphere. Verdant String is another singular series set in an egalitarian society that is being attacked from the inside and from outside.

The history of the Halatians is slowly doled out, but seems to be critical to both novellas, so I am guessing the series too. Blue-hair Halatians stand out on the Verdant String planets they have been forced to relocate to after their planet was destroyed in what I am assuming was a natural disaster. The survivors have managed to find new lives, but because of the past, they will always be the guilty reminder of what the other Verdant String planets did not do. Sadly, that makes them the optimal pawns, in politics, in society, in everything.

You see this truth in both of the prequel novellas Interference and Insurgency. The main characters are Halatian women caught up in circumstances they could not control or anticipate. Also key are the special forces/protection unit men that they meet and endure the conflict with.  While the romance in Interfence between Nyha and Mak seemed a bit rushed, in Insurgency, Tila and Nick had a charming, slower start.

There is a special character in Insurgency that I really liked.  Drake is the head of the protection unit and had a an exceptional, if infamous, role in the rescue of the Halation people.  I hope we get to see more of him in the series

In both stories, the women were the captives and were rescued by the men. Not that the women were weak.  In fact Ms. Diener’s heroines are never that.  But I hope the rescuing will be mixed up in the future.

Interference hints at the history of the Verdant String and it’s technology.  Insurgency gets a bit more into the Halation disaster. Both are providing background to what is sure to be a great new series that I look forward to with great anticipation!

The author provided a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.

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