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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Crimson by Ethan X Thomas

Crimson by Ethan X Thomas
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Science Fiction,
Length: Short Story (80 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Cactus

Submission isn’t an option—it’s a full-time job.

A Men in Space story.

Humiliated by the betrayal of his former Master, Lieutenant Benjamin Kraft will do anything to bring the drug czar Tazu to justice—anything but kneel again. Forget passion too. He’d rather risk daily grow-op raids. Then, just when Tazu is finally within reach, an ambush wipes out Ben’s entire squad and threatens the life of his partner—a partner he never realized he cared about, much less loved.

As a member of a former slave race known as starlings, Adam’s speed and strength make him a valuable asset to the police force even as his blue skin inspires prejudice and derision from the other officers. Ben’s always been able to look past that, so what’s changed? Suddenly his partner is rude at every turn. Ben may try to get rid of him, but too bad; Adam won’t be scared off. He has his own reasons for wanting to bring Tazu in, and he’ll do it even if it means putting Ben in his place.

Even if it means acting as Ben’s Master on their next mission: an investigation on a planet where sex is everywhere, and where whips and chains are the norm…

Sex in space never tasted so delicious. When Adam and Ben are sent after a well-known terrorist, neither man expects the outcome. Each has personal reasons for wanting the man caught but secrets and hidden desires threaten to tear the close-knit partnership apart. Now Adam and Ben must work together and through any problems to finish the mission and perhaps even gain a new beginning for their relationship.

This novella is the third book in the Men in Space trio and is the most complex. The story is very plot-based with an emphasis on the two cops – Ben and Adam – as they track down a known criminal. The world-building here is the most intricate of the three stories with different species and new details that add a fresh and interesting take on a science fiction, space theme. The story is also very action packed and the pace is quick. Both characters are entertaining and very masculine with their communication issues, repressed emotion, and dedication to the mission. The relationship takes a backseat to the action but there is definite passion and lingering desire that comes through.

Although this is a fun, interesting story, there is too much crammed into the novella length. The world-building is fascinating, yet woefully incomplete as numerous details and background information are omitted. It’s as if the author knows the world very well but forgot to fully translate that to the reader. The few glimpses offered are more than enough to keep interest; I just wish the complex world had been fully developed. Additionally the characters are not quite three-dimensional. Part of this is due to the quick start of the book. The plot begins assuming established facts yet doesn’t offer those, such as Ben is repeatedly said to be acting oddly but that is the only way we see Ben acting so if it’s odd, the reader has no other reference. Furthermore the BDSM scenes, which are not incredibly hard-core, seem to add very little to the story and characters. The role reversal is uncomfortable and awkward, just as the relationship between the men feels forced more than natural.

Despite these problems, Crimson is easily my favorite of the three Men in Space books. The unique and different world combined with the action-based plot keeps the entertainment factor high and doesn’t offer recycled plots for the sake of man on man sex. The BDSM portion of the book shouldn’t bother most readers though it is included later in the story. If you’re looking for something different set in space, check this out.

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