Seleste ARC Reviews: Winter Fusion by Anna Hackett

Ex-space marine Savan Bardan survived the Galactic Wars to become the most ruthless trade negotiator in the galaxy. His planet needs energy to survive, and he’ll do anything to close the deal for the Perman fusion crystals that can provide it—even if it means seducing his beautiful, infuriating opponent, a rival icier than her planet.

Perma’s top negotiator, Brinn Fjord, lost her father when Savan delayed her planet’s Trade Guild membership years ago. She hates the handsome Rendarian and the planet he represents. She’s determined to finish the deal and get rid of him as quickly as possible, so she can celebrate the holidays.

But soon the rival negotiators are in a fight for their lives. Besieged by mysterious accidents and unforgiving weather, Brinn and Savan have no one to depend on but each other. As they put the past aside, they uncover a desire hot enough to melt ice, and Brinn discovers a secret that may keep them apart.

28,000 words

  • File Size: 243 KB
  • Print Length: 90 pages
  • Price: $2.99
  • Publisher: Carina Press (December 3, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009FX21H8
  • Buy Winter Fusion at Amazon

Plot: Of the three novellas in the A Galactic Holiday anthology, this one was the most plot-heavy. The characters’ backstories are integral to their enemies-to-lovers story, and if you take history further back, it gives an understanding of why Savan became a negotiator in the first place. Add a bunch of political intrigue, dirty dealing, and assassins to that animosity, and you’ve got a rich and full plot. However, the richness of that was one of the reasons it felt a little off for the characters to fall back into sex as often as they did. First time I understood completely. Maybe even the second, but I’ve always had an issue with books where the characters are currently on the run, their lives are in mortal peril, and all they seem to think about is getting it on again. In this particular case, the characters sort of slap themselves out of it, but the “OMG, we’re going to die out here in the ice and no one is ever going to find us, but damn he’s got a nice ass” yanked me out every time until things went back to the meatier bits of the story.

Romance: I like enemies-to-lovers stories a lot. This one worked well in that most of their anger at each other was due to a misunderstanding. Granted, said misunderstanding had huge consequences, but I can see how knowing the other person’s reasoning would help them make the jump from “I hate you” to “Body heat is a good way to stave off hypothermia” wink-wink-nudge-nudge. I also appreciated the fact that the characters did more than find each others’ bodies attractive. Even in the short time-frame of the story, they both give a lot of time to how the other person’s mind works and their thoughts on home & family and how their pasts have shaped them. It makes their romance more believable. Having said that… the story takes place over a twenty-four hour period of time. That’s it. While it kept the pacing fast and furious, it also made it much more difficult to buy that these two people who hated each other are suddenly looking at happily-ever-after.

Characters: I really liked both Savan and Brinn. I understood their motivations and the way they looked at each other. I liked how driven they both were. As I mentioned in the plot section, for a novella they were both given a nice backstory that made them easy to connect with. Even the minor characters were pretty well fleshed out, with each having a definite purpose and clear personality.

World-building: The world created in Winter Fusion really needed a place in a longer story. It’s not because the story here was too big for 28,000 words… It’s mainly because there’s so much going on with so many different worlds that those aspects felt thrown in. Things on other planets were mentioned rather randomly, and it would yank me right out of the story while I tried to figure out if I was supposed to know what Lalani was like when Lalani silk was mentioned (or the same with a suite on Duna). It seemed like the author built this huge ‘verse and then tried to fit it all in a 28,000 word novella, and it felt like too much for me…

I will admit though, that sci-fi romance is not a primary genre for me. This was the only novella in the bunch that fell into one of the traps that drew me away from sci-fi (and epic fantasy for that matter) years ago. Names. When the names for everything (other than the gods) are unfamiliar, it takes me longer to sink into a story. Within the confines of Winter Fusion, there are the main characters Brinn and Savan (who is often referred to by his surname Bardan), Elin, and Kolar. Then there are the planets Rendar, Perma, Duna, Lalani, Kebira, Nard Kartaan, and I’m guessing some variation on Shashin (where the Shashin assassin came from). It takes my mind about 10,000-15,000 words to get a bunch of unfamiliar names straight. When dealing with a full-length novel, that’s about 15-20% of the story, which is still a lot, but in a novella, that’s 33-50% of the story before I don’t have to think about who’s who. Of everything, this bit was what hurt Winter Fusion for me because it kept yanking me from the story which made it take a lot longer to read than it should have.

Rating this one was tough because of that part. However, the richness of the plot and the more than physical attraction between the leads really helped. So… if the name thing bothers you like it does me, pretend the rating could be a half-star lower. If that doesn’t bug you at all, pretend it’s a half-star higher. For accounting purposes, I’m splitting the difference.

***FULL DISCLOSURE: Seleste also writes for Carina Press.***

  • Sasha Summers November 30, 2012 at 10:08 am

    WooHoo! Congrats Anna on the stars for your fantastic story!

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