The year is 2053. The Earth was devastated by an alien invasion. That happened eleven years ago. The remaining civilisation on Earth have devolved into a land with fewer laws and even fewer morals. Mari is an orphan who is fleeing a man who wants her to enter a loveless marriage. She is a young woman without any dowry, which means she’s unworthy of most male suitors, which means her choices are very limited. Because in this society, the male gains all of the woman’s wealth and the land her father owns upon marriage, and Mari has neither land nor money. Her only hope for financial security for herself is for her to travel to Scar City to find an artefact that was left behind by her father–the artefact that he recovered from an alien race known only as ‘The Barks.’ The only problem with this plan, besides not knowing what the artefact actually looks like and its location, is that two twins who only go by the names of Finn and Garath, (who also happen to be genetically modified Super Soldiers), are after the same artefact as well.
This is a fun and fast novel to read. I found it hard to put down. The characters are rich, and Clare Murray really lays down a good backstory for Mari within the first chapter that really makes you root for her as the main protagonist. The sex scenes are described in a lot of juicy details, which this reviewer appreciates and loves, but these scenes never venture into the obscene, which I also appreciate. However, I do question whether a virgin, which Mari is, would be so eager to take part in a threesome during her first sexual encounter? You might say I’m nitpicking, but I did find it a little unrealistic for my taste. Finn and Garath aren’t your usual romantic protagonists either. They do dominate Mari during the sex scenes and also in other parts of the book, but not in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, nor do you feel that they’re exploiting her with what they’re doing and it’s clear to see they both care for her greatly. Clare Murray makes you feel their inner strength and the telepathic bond these two brothers share intensifies their bond with Mari and with each other. Which makes you as the reader grow more attached to these characters.
You might think this novel is a bit sexist and it is in parts. But Clare Murray doesn’t shy away from this subject. She acknowledges it within the first few chapters of the story, but it doesn’t become such an issue that it takes you out of the story at any point. In fact, it adds an extra layer of drama that makes you hope Mari is successful in her quest to find the artefacts.
The World building elements of this book are great. You really feel like this fictional world is alive and teeming with possibilities. That can only be a good thing since this is the first book in the series, and I honestly cannot wait to read more. However, I wish this book had a little more action than it does. As we draw closer to the end of the story, the action does intensify, but I kind of wish we had a little more action throughout the story. Don’t get me wrong, the story and sex scenes will make this an excellent experience for any reader who picks this up, but as someone who loves films like Aliens I can’t help, but want a little more action throughout this novel. The Barks are the antagonists of this novel and pose a clear and present danger, but I only believe that because the characters tell me so. I don’t actually feel the tension I should be feeling with them as they draw ever nearer to Scar City. In fact, I feel the city is more of a danger to the characters than the alien race hell bent on destroying them. Is this a shortcoming of the novel? Maybe, but I’m willing to forgive this because the dialogue, the relationships that develop over the course of this novel make this an incredible read. The book even makes you laugh on occasion. This novel truly has a bit of everything in it.
So, will you like it as much as I’ve liked it? Well, that depends: do you like a Romantic Science Fiction novel with the emphasis on romance? To put it bluntly, if you’re looking for a new hard sci-fi novel series, then this book isn’t for you. However, if you’re looking for a fun read with a ton of descriptive sex scenes, then this book is most definitely for you. The world and characters Clare Murray has crafted are well worth you parting with your hard earned money. I know I’ll be picking up this novel when it hits the stores, even though I have a review copy on my Kindle. Unfortunately, now comes the hard part. Waiting for Murray to write and release book two in this series. I cannot wait to re-enter this world and reacquaint myself with these excellent characters.
Paired Pursuit by Clare Murray is set to be released by Samhain Publishing on the 1st of December 2015.