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Today I am reviewing Aftermath by Mary Brock Jones. Some of you may remember a feature a few months back where I promised this review. I am posting on a Sunday because, according to Ms. Jones’ newsletter, Toil and Strife, which includes the first two books in the series will be available on Amazon today for a very low price. Free! Since I highly recommend reading the entire series, I don’t want you to miss out on this deal.

About Aftermath

The war is over, but can they win the peace?
Read the thrilling conclusion to the romantic Hathe trilogy.

War or Peace. It doesn’t matter. There is always an enemy, and Jacquel des Trurains of the planet Hathe knows all about enemies. He’s just spent years as an undercover spy battling the Terran invaders of his home world. Now the war is over and the Terrans routed, but Hathe has been left divided and hurting. Some one has to fix it, and who better than a decorated leader of the Resistance. Jacquel is sent back into battle, but this time he fights to restore his home.

It won’t be easy, even for the man dubbed the most charming hero of the Resistance. Years of oppression have left their mark on every dirtsider who stayed behind. And what of the Hathians who fled to the moon? The greed of a few for the sparkling jewel of the colonial worlds threatens to destroy everything when they return.

So, Jacquel’s bosses decide he needs some help.

A gifted diplomat, Rheia asn Postrova spent the war off-world, embroiled in twisted games to protect the secrets of Hathe. Talk, promise, beg; whatever it took to stop the other worlds betraying Hathe’s schemes to the Terrans. She’s more than paid her dues to her home world. Yet just when it seems she is free to seek what peace she can, she is sent to the last place she ever wanted to visit and ordered to help a stubborn man build bridges instead of walls.

Together, they must find a way to heal their home.

But Jacquel has lost too many already. Can he risk losing—or loving—one more? And Rheia has secrets of her own.

 

Review of Aftermath

Because Jacquel des Trurains was such a pivotal character in book 1 of this series, Resistance, I was very please so see him get his own story.

The post war setting of Hathe and its people is a fascinating background. Because of the huge subterfuge the Hathe people pulled over on the Terrans, the Hathe population has become split between the population that stayed on Hathe and played the role of peasants, and the rest of the population that escaped to the moon Mathe and hid there for the duration of the war. Known as the dirtsiders and the moonies, they are not re-integrating into the post-war world very well, now that the Terrans have been ousted. This quote from The Resistance may give some insight to the general mood of the planet:

On that day, when Hathe rose high in the sky to stand above the center of the ancient pillars on Mathe, the Resistance threw off their invaders in one swift reversal of power and took back their home.

It should have brought the shining future they had been promised, but too many had found the future ……. their old jobs taken by returning moonies and their confidence long eroded by constant subservience to their Terran conquerors.

Breaking out of that servitude was proving far harder than the Hathian Council had expected. First, you had to give a man back his self-esteem. Only then could you give him back his life.

When Jacquel is put in charge of a team tasked with cleaning the environment the Terrans poisoned, he grudgingly accepts the ‘garbage duty’ assignment. On his team, Rheia asn Postrova, a moonie with expertise in interplanetary affairs – in other words, a diplomat. Why the heck does he need a diplomat on his team? His boss forces Jacquel to eat his own words about re-integrating those who stayed on Hathe with those now returning from exile. Which is how Jacquel and Rheia get together.

I like that there is no love lost between the two at first. No love at first sight. The friendship develops slowly, through shared experiences, on the job and off the job. Some of those off the job experiences are unexpected and dangerous. Someone on the team is trying to get rid of Rheia, which makes Jacquel very unhappy. Not only is he starting to like this Rheia, but that someone is messing with the whole re-integration thing. Jacquel is not only unhappy, he is pissed.

While it is easy to sympathize with the downtrodden dirtsiders, in fact, there are good guys and bad guys among the moonies and the dirtsiders. Which is how it should be. Black and white is only a decorating color scheme.

There are plots. Jacquel will take a huge stand against those who would mess with his unsung heroes. And there are more plots. Rheia will risk her own life to try to uncover the masterminds behind the biggest plot. One man’s conspiracy is another man’s business venture. Like so many issues on this planet and every other planet, the drive for power and money keeps the intrigue alive and kicking.

Aftermath has a complex plot, engaging heroes and heroines, and disagreeable villains. The slow burning romance between Jacquel and Rheia is satisfying. But their roles as revolutionaries in the post war situation are what makes Aftermath a great read.

There is enough backstory in Aftermath to allow the reader to appreciate it as a standalone. But don’t do that. Enjoy the entire Hathe series (including Resistance and Pay the Piper). Once you get started it will be hard to stop. I binge read the series in a matter of about 4 days, so I know what I am talking about.

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

 

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