I downloaded this when it was being offered as a freebie. I doubt I'd have gotten it otherwise - I don't generally buy things with such a low word count.
Shadia has medical bills she needs to pay off. All she wants to do is get a temporary job, make enough to pay her bills off, and then move on. She prefers to live the life of a drifter, attached to and responsible for nothing and no one.
Once it's learned that she has experience with real animals, however, she is practically forced to take a more permanent position as a caretaker for the pets of the more affluent residents of Toklaat Space Station. She continues to resist becoming attached to the place and people around her, until a disaster prompts her to re-examine her way of living.
The descriptions I've seen on Goodreads and Smashwords all led me to believe that this story would focus more on the bonding process between Shadia and Feef, one of the pets Shadia regularly took care of. That didn't turn out to be the case. While the descriptions of the various pets and their individual characteristics and needs were really interesting, not much attention was paid to any one pet, at least until the disaster. Shadia didn't seem any closer to Feef than she was to Gite or any of the other pets.
For me, this story was so-so. It was too brief to do much more than scratch the surface of anything. Shadia, a loner, is rarely shown interacting with anyone. A short paragraph described some of the gifts her clients gave her, and I found myself wishing that the story had continued, even just a bit, past the ending. I wanted to see her begin to make connections with others more. I felt like I barely got to know her, any of the pets, the space station, and the other residents of the station.
- Powers That Be (book) by Anne McCaffrey - McCaffrey's another good author for animal lovers and soft science fiction fans. Like Shadia, the main character of this book finds herself unexpectedly becoming part of a community and forming bonds with others.
- Magic's Pawn (book) by Mercedes Lackey - Mercedes Lackey is another good author for animal lovers to try - quite a few of her books feature characters with birds of prey or horses as companion animals. Also, she has written many characters who are damaged in some way and derive emotional healing from caring for and spending time with those animals. There are several potential starting points for readers new to Lackey's Valdemar books - this is the first in her Last Herald Mage trilogy, which would get my vote for the most angsty books in the series.