My review contains some spoilers.
I didn't love this, but I liked it enough that I'd be interested in reading the next book in the series once it comes out.
This novella is a mix of sci-fi space opera and Western and is set on the Rosewood space station. As a bounty hunter, Anelace's job is to kill the ravenous blobs that are a constant threat to those on the station. The less-habited areas collect blobs in droves, and it's rare for Anelace to come back unscathed. The person who patches her up most of the time is Meidani. Anelace has been interested in Meidani for years, but, as far as she knows, Meidani prefers men. She also figures that a good girl like Meidani could do better than a trouble-making hellcat like herself. Then Meidani asks her out and forces her to start thinking about what she really wants out of life and her relationships.
I most enjoyed the bits before Anelace and Meidani became a couple and the sweet moments early on in their relationship. Anelace may have been a cocky badass, but she was also adorable where Meidani was concerned. Although she'd spent years noticing just about everything about Meidani, she had enormous blind spots due to her belief that someone like her couldn't possibly have a lasting relationship with someone like Meidani. I loved that it was shy, soft-spoken Meidani who took the initiative and asked Anelace out (and made sure their date ended in Anelace's bed). Every time Anelace tried to hold back, Meidani nudged things forward.
Meidani knew that Anelace was a bit rough around the edges and didn't necessarily seem interested in changing her, but she couldn’t bring herself to be comfortable with Anelace's job and the amount of danger she put herself in. It put a wedge between them, and it took a painfully long time for Anelace to realize what her true priorities were and that there were acceptable alternatives to her bounty hunting work. That was one thing I didn't quite like about this novella – I wish that Anelace's final decision had come a little sooner. As it was, it felt less like she'd had an epiphany about wanting to stay with Meidani and more like her hand was forced by the circumstances. Considering what had happened to her, would she even have physically been capable of continuing to be a bounty hunter? It was so frustrating when, only pages earlier, someone practically dumped a solution to her problems on her lap and she just walked away.
When I first started reading, the blob hunting stuff struck me as being somewhat silly. The hunting scenes quickly changed my mind. I would have preferred it if the blobs had been more consistent – either dumb things that just traveled towards vibrations, or smart and vicious hunters – but there was no denying that the damage they could do was scary. I'm crossing my fingers that Jones has plans to write a Rosewood Space Western starring a scientist whose work involves studying blobs. I'm still wondering how that enormous blob Anelace encountered early on even came to be.
All in all, this was a nice read with good action scenes and an interesting setting. I liked Meidani and Anelace's romance and just wish that there had been a little from Meidani's perspective and that it hadn't taken nearly dying for Anelace to get her priorities straight. Oh, and by the way, a note for those who hate baby-logues: this one has a kitten-logue. Hurray!
Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
- Cowboy Bebop (anime TV series) - This has only the teeny tiniest of romance in it, plus *spoiler spoiler* a tragic ending, but it may still appeal to those who'd like something else with a sci-fi Western setting and good action scenes. It also has what may be only of the best-loved English dubs in existence.
- Firefly (live action TV series) - Another one with a sci-fi Western setting, plus more romance (although, darn it, Mal and Inara, my favorite potential couple, didn't get around to admitting they were attracted to each other before the series was cancelled).
- Earthrise (e-book) by M.C.A. Hogarth - The first book in Hogarth's Her Instruments trilogy. Another space opera with romance, although all of it is m/f. I think Hogarth has written f/f couples, but I haven't gotten around to reading any of those works yet. I've reviewed this book.
- Wilder's Mate (e-book) by Moira Rogers - The first in a series, and another genre-bender: in this case, romance, Western, and a bit of steampunk. Sorry, the romance here is also m/f. I really need to broaden my f/f reading. Anyway, I recall the sex scenes being about the same level of explicitness as found in Hellcat's Bounty, but maybe also a bit more frequent. It's been a while since I read it. I've written a review.
- Dynasty of Rogues (e-book) by Jane Fletcher - I've been wracking my brains for a f/f romance I could add to this list, and this was the best I could come up with. This might not be the best place to start reading the series, but it'd be a good one for those who'd like another romantic relationship involving a "trouble-maker" and someone from a good family. The sex scenes in this series aren't fade-to-black, but they're less explicit than the scenes in Hellcat's Bounty. I've written about this book.