Beyond Meridian by CC Bridges
Genre: Science Fiction, Action/adventure
Length: Short Story (70 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Review by: Cactus
Two men. One passion. No choice.
A Men in Space story.
Captain Rick Raine got more than he bargained for when he agreed to take on a brash young man as a crewmember along with contraband cargo. Karl’s spirit intrigues him, but he didn’t sign up for battling privateers, the United Planetary Alliance—or his traitorous body’s response. Especially to a naïve kid who cheats at holo poker and knows a whole lot more than he should.
Deep in the heart of enemy space, Karl’s goal, to rescue the woman who saved him from a life of sexual servitude, is finally close enough to touch. Unfortunately, so is Captain Raine, who becomes erotic poetry in motion when he pilots the ship. Raine’s an honest thief, but Karl can’t trust him with UPA secrets that could get them both killed.
But when Karl signed on for this mission, no one told him to hang on to his heart…
Beyond Meridian is a fun action/adventure story that uses classic themes to familiarize readers. Here the United Planetary Alliance is at war with the Confederacy. The Confederacy promotes slavery and uses slaves a main workforce without payment, identity, or care. The UPA is trying to stop the Confederacy and there are a number of neutral planets in between the two. Karl’s friend is a slave on a Confed planet and he’s trying to save her. This plot is rather basic and familiar, offering nothing especially new or innovative to the concept. Fans of the genre will have read the basics of this story many times before and even the hints of artificial intelligence, which well used, are not especially ground breaking or fresh. However, the writing is fun and entertaining and the men are interesting so the book skims along without many problems. The action is almost non-stop from pirates to raids to space battles and narrow escapes, which makes the book incredibly fast to read.
The characters are good, although they tread heavily on stereotypes. The captain Raine is a classic space rogue, having sex with men and women in each port. He is attracted to the youthful innocence of Karl, a good boy with a sketchy past. Their chemistry is immediate, although the sex doesn’t take place until much later in the book. The tension and flirting is kept high and the action keeps the book moving. The ending is somewhat overly dramatic, but as a space story, I expected some outrageous heroics. The final connection between the men gives a strong happy ending but the resolution felt forced and unbelievable. Yet the romance between the two should help smooth over any rocky moments at the end.
Overall, this is a quick and entertaining offering in a genre littered with familiar themes. There is nothing that will cause hard core science fiction fans to sit up and take notice, but nothing that will turn them away either. The men are definite eye candy and the sex scenes are pretty hot. Karl’s idealism makes a nice contrast to Raine’s world weary cynicism and the classic themes will be enjoyable to many readers. Romance fans looking for a light anthology about hot men set in space should check out Samhain’s trio of space stories.