Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2
by S.E. Smith, M.K. Eidem, Susan Grant, Michelle Howard, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green, Sabine Priestley, Jessica E. Subject, Carol Van Natta and Alexis Glynn Latner
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Science Fiction Romance
The pets are back! Embrace the Romance: Pets in Space 2, featuring twelve of today’s leading Science Fiction Romance authors brings you a dozen original stories written just for you! Join in the fun, from the Dragon Lords of Valdier to a trip aboard award-winning author, Veronica Scott’s Nebula Zephyr to journeying back to Luda where Grim is King, for stories that will take you out of this world! Join New York Times, USA TODAY, and Award-winning authors S.E. Smith, M.K. Eidem, Susan Grant, Michelle Howard, Cara Bristol, Veronica Scott, Pauline Baird Jones, Laurie A. Green, Sabine Priestley, Jessica E. Subject, Carol Van Natta, and Alexis Glynn Latner as they share stories and help out Hero-Dogs.org, a charity that supports our veterans!
I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley and voluntarily reviewed it.
I read Pets in Space 1 last year and really enjoyed it, so I couldn’t hit request fast enough when I saw this one pop up on Netgalley. I’ll be doing short reviews for each story and give a summary of the anthology as a whole at the end.
Pearl’s Dragon by SE Smith – 3 stars
This was a fun start of this anthology. Pearl’s Dragon is about a grandma named pearl who finds her true mate while visiting an alien planet. I thought it was great the main characters were older in this story, Pearl is 60 if I remember correctly and her dragon shifter mate Asim is described as an older warrior.
The story is told from the present time and then there are two large flashbacks to events in the past, which take up the majority of the story. One of those is about how Asim and Pearl met and the other is about a dangerous situation they run into. There are some fun pets involved, although I wish there was a bit more description of the alien pets as I wasn’t sure how to visualize those.
The romance develops a tad too quickly for my taste, but it is a short story and a true mates story, so it does make sense. I also had some trouble with the large amount of side characters and had trouble remembering who was who. At the end of the story was a list of other books in this series so I figured that those who read this series already will already know all the characters. It did made me curious about this series.
A Grim Pet by MK Eidem – 4 stars
This was a fun story. Just like the first one it was obvious this was part of a series and I had a little trouble with remembering the names of side characters and who they were and their role, but not too much. Mostly it made me curious to the backstory of everyone and I wanted to know more about these aliens. The males were a bit overprotective about their females, but it did make sense given their culture.
There are multiple aliens in this universe and the focus is on Lisa and her husband, the king. They have two daughters who befriend a raptor. The pet in this story wasn’t a pet, but more an animal they sort of befriended and seemed to be important to this culture.
I liked the little touches that showed this was an alien planet with some of their customs and even some of their speech, it was easy to follow, but made it obvious they are a bit different from humans. The two little girls were adorable and I thought the plot line with the raptor was neat.
The Prince, The Pilot, and the Puppy by Susan Grant – 4 stars
This story was so good! I am totally impressed by how this author managed to write a short story where the characters felt fleshed out and managed to write their whole story without it feeling rushed. I am convinced I have to give one of this author’s full length books a try soon as I really like her writing style.
This book follows two human main characters and a puppy. There is a small link with this author’s story from Pets in Space 1 where the dog from that story shortly met the puppy from this one. It works great as a standalone and I was immediately invested in these characters and hoping they would get their happy ending. The puppy also plays an important role and was totally adorable. I really enjoyed this story and was sad when it ended.
I also liked the hints we get of what’s going on in this universe and the aliens and I just want to know more about it. It also was neat how these both trained to be pilots and it was obvious they were close friends even though they both wanted more. It was fun to read when they finally made that step to lovers.
Wired for Love by Michelle Howard – 3 stars
This story started out great. It has a bit of a gritty feel, two alien main characters, a dog and the couple has some fun banter. For the most part I enjoyed this one, but there was a deal/ bargain they struck with each other that didn’t sit well with me. I wish he had done what she asked because he wanted to and it didn’t sit well with me that he would only do that if she gave him what he wanted in return. As I felt like he should’ve waited till she was ready. Because of that I had a hard time feeling their romance.
I did like how this seemed to be set on an alien planet and the two main characters were aliens too, which was neat. There are some things we learn about a war that took place, but the story mostly stays focused on the two main characters and Hunter’s past. I also felt a bit annoyed Hunter would snap at Narelle while she didn’t know what he went through or what she was asking of him. I did like Narelle’s character more than Hunter, but she was the type of character that hid her vulnerabilities behind a shield of strength and I would’ve liked to see more behind her shield or learn about her character. I felt like there was more that could’ve been explored about these characters and the world, but there’s no space for that in a short novel. There was a part in the last chapter that almost ruined the story for me, but the epilogue made a lot good again and it was a good ending.
Rescued by the Cyborg by Cara Bristol – 4 stars
This was one of the stories I was most curious about as I already have read a full length book by this author and her story in Pets in Space 1. I really enjoyed Rescued by the Cyborg. It’s a bit dark at times, the female main character is a difficult situation before cyborg Guy saves her. It has a great story, danger and some action. I also liked how we got to know a bit about the cyborgs and how they work.
I liked how the female main character was an alien with wings, which seemed pretty neat and unique. And we get a bit of hints of their culture too. Guy was a man of duty and was afraid he wouldn’t be relationship material after his fiancé left him. I liked seeing the romance between these two develop, they both seemed like great characters and I liked how we got a pretty good feel for both of them. And there’s an adorable kitty too, which was a fun addition to the story. It was really well written and I am convinced I have to pick up this cyborg series soon!
Star Cruise: Songbird by Veronica Scott – 4 stars
This was another story I was really curious about in this set as I really enjoyed Veronica Scott’s story in Pets in Space 1 and have read two of her full length novels by now as well. Songbird was a great read, I flew through it. It had a solid story with a bit of danger, music, two great main characters and two awesome pets.
I really liked the bond Grant had with his eagle bird, it wasn’t quiet the traditional pet as he was actually a war bird and there was some interesting backstory there as well. And I am glad we got to see enough of the bird and how it played a role in the story. It was great to see Grant fall in love with singer Karissa. Both characters really came alive and I enjoyed reading about them, seeing them grow closer and learning more about them. The descriptions were very well done and I was able to visualize well how Karissa’s shows looked like and the planet they visited.
There was a great twist at the end that I hadn’t predicted and I was happy with how it got wrapped up. It felt like a full story and it was well written. I also appreciated the cameo appearance of one of the characters and pets from this author’s story in Pets in Space 1 and how it took place aboard the same ship. I am looking forward to read more by this author.
Time Trap by Pauline Baird – 2 stars
Sadly this one didn’t quite work for me. I usually avoid time travel in stories as I just don’t like it. It doesn’t make sense and it annoys me so much it’s hard to enjoy any story that deals with it. There is little explanation about how time travel works in this story and I found myself confused a few times about small details, like who Briggs was, what he knew, what kind of work Madison did. The whole time travel part just added to my confusion.
I did like the talking parrot, he was a nice addition. And Madison gymnastic skills was an original touch, just like how Briggs liked to fix machines. But I found it hard to really get a feel for the characters or care about their romance. It also felt like this might be part of a larger series, so maybe some things are easier to understand if you’re familiar with it. Sorry this is just not my kind of story sadly.
Courting Disaster: Star Dog 2 by Laurie A Green – 3 stars
I was eager to start this one as I enjoyed Star Dog 1. Too bad it’s been a while since I read that one and I haven’t gotten around to reading the rest of the books yet, so there were a few moment where I was a tad confused about who was who and how everything tied together. The story was still easy to follow, it’s more the background and character connections I wished I had clearer in my head.
This story follows Jagger, a captain who gets a strange missions. He has a very big ego and it was nice to see his shock when he saw the ship he had to pilot. He also was still troubled by something that happened years ago and for a self proclaimed celibate monk he sure was easily distracted. Sadly I never fully warmed up to Jagger. Katsia was a nice character, although I did feel we got to know her less well than Jagger. And I also liked stardog Luna and the role she played in this story.
The story is pretty straightforward, with a small twist later on and was fun to read, but somehow the romance didn’t fully work for me. And then the sex scene that took place at a bit of a weird time and place didn’t really help matters either. Still a good read and it was well written. I plan to check out more books by this author.
Sensate by Sabine Priestley – 3 stars
This was an interesting story. The main plot line focused on a sentient AI that wanted a physical body and the complications that arose on the path toward that. I really liked that part of the story, but felt that at times there was a bit too much the author tried to fit in the story which made it feel a tad rushed at times.
There was a scene involving a side character that felt a bit off and rushed, although from the note at the end of the book it seems they will get their own story. I didn’t feel the romance as well as it felt like it was sort of fit in between all the other things going on. I did like that these two had a history, but I wanted to see more of them re-connecting now and feel their connection. I did thought the character Ru was very well written and I was pleased how that plot line got resolved.
Gib and the Tibbar by Jessica E Subject – 3 stars
This was a nice read. I liked how both main characters were alien races, although the whole bones on the outside of their body thing weirded me out a bit and I had trouble visualizing how those aliens looked. I also felt like I missed a bit of knowledge about the world, but it seems this story is part of a series so more will probably be explained here.
The male is a defender, kind of like the military in this world it seems and they have some mental powers as well. Although I am not quite sure how that works. While the female main character works in the kitchen for the palace. I liked how different these characters were, but were able to find common ground and learn about they others life and culture. The romance developed a bit quickly, especially when she wasn’t interested at all in him at first. And some parts were a tad rushed. The pet was adorable and I liked the part it played.
Pet Trade by Carol Van Natta – 4 stars
This one was really good and there were so many pets, which made me happy. And lots of unique pets too and almost every scene had pets in them. They played an important role in the story and were interwoven everywhere. I liked both of the main characters, they both had a tough life so far and are trying to find some peace and quiet on this planet. And seeing the female main character who was afraid of men slowly allow him close was great to see.
I thought both character felt realistic and I enjoyed reading about them. The romance was slow paced, which totally fit the story. There was a time skip in the middle of the story that worked well. I liked how much both characters cared about the pets. The author pulled of the short form really well and I never felt like I was missing something or things were rushed. I definitely plan to check out some of her other books.
Mascot by Alexis Glynn – 4 stars
A great ending to this anthology. Mascot featured an unique plant animal that was the mascot of a space station. I liked how this one took place on a space station, it made for a fun setting. This one was pretty plot focused, with the romance more as a side plot line, it fit the story. I did struggle a bit with the different factions and politics as we didn’t get as much information about that, but even without that the plot was still easy to follow.
It was well written, with some nice twists and interesting characters. I liked the camaraderie between everyone on the space station and how they banded together. The romance was well done and I liked how it took some time to develop. There was quite a bit going on in this story, but it didn’t feel rushed. A great read.
Summary of my thoughts of the anthology as a whole
Pets in Space 2 is a great anthology for those who like Science Fiction Romance. And each story features one or more pets, which is a lot of fun. I really enjoyed this anthology, I already knew some of the authors and others were new to me. It’s a great way to find out which authors style works for you and which less so.
I enjoyed most of these stories and had a great time reading through this anthology. Most of the stories are set in an already existing world created by each author, so there were some moments where I felt like I missed some pieces of information. Usually this information wasn’t necessary for the plot, but it still made me feel like I missed some background you would have when you already are familiar with that world. And at the same time often this made me curious to go back and read more books by those authors.
It was fun to see how many different pets this anthology had and how the different authors incorporated the pet(s) in their story. Each story has a romance as well. Some are set on alien planets, aboard space ships and even a space station. All in all I would definitely recommend this one to fans of sci-fi romance books.