Caeli Crys is one of the few survivors of the Novali people. The Novali have special gifts; Caeli happens to be an empath as well as having the ability to heal people. Because of their gifts, many of the Novali were killed by the other people on her planet, the Amathi. Caeli escaped the Amathi and has been living on her own in the woods. That is-until she connects with the mind of Derek. Derek's spacecraft has been hit and is crashing near Caeli's camp. Caeli arrives at the crash site in time to help heal Derek, but not his partner, Tommy. After several days of helping Derek heal, Caeli and Derek connect on a deeper level. Caeli shares her history and her people's trouble with the Amathi. When Derek's command ship, the Horizon, sends a rescue team, she is granted asylum aboard the ship. However, the Horizon soon learns of another planet under attack and Derek's team is sent on a mission there. Derek knows that Caeli's gifts would be helpful on the mission, but fears putting her in danger again.
This is a fast-paced science-fiction romance that had me hooked from the moment Caeli connected with Derek's mind. I was very interested in Caeli's people and their powers. The story of Caeil's planet, Almagest, that she shared with Derek really drew me in. Through this backstory, I really got to know Caeli's character; I knew how deeply she cared for people and her true strength, with or without her gifts. I really think this could have almost been a story by itself. I am also really interested in how the planet fared after Caeli left, especially with the resistance that was rising. I do appreciate the parallels on Caeli's planet to what is happening in some parts of the world right now. Caeli sums it up best in the quote: "No, but I can't ignore the situation in front of me. My people did that. They chose not to see, not to act, and it cost us everything." Hopefully, this will be explored in the next book! While it was no surprise to me that Derek and Caeli formed a romantic relationship after being connected through their minds; however, for me this happened a little too quickly. Once on Horizon, the pace quickened. I was glad Caeli found her place so quickly as a physician and was valued among the crew. When Derek learns of the threat on the planet Tharsis, I knew Caeli would be involved. The situation was very similar to what happened on her home planet. This section of the book moved quickly and was filled with suspense. At the end of the book I am still left with some questions about Caeli's planet and how humans came to populate all of these other planets. Maybe book two, Infinity will answer these!
This book was provided for free in return for an honest review.
A Guest Post by Tabitha Lord
Writing the Hero
In epic space opera stories, like the HORIZON series, characters have to grapple with epic questions. For example: What decisions, large and small, will they make that will come to define them when it matters? Who will stand and fight, and who will betray their neighbor or simply look away? What is redemption and who finds it? The choices a character makes when faced with these kinds of questions help drive their development, move the plot forward, and define them as a hero – or not.
But writing a hero is, in some ways, a balancing act. The character has to evolve, make mistakes, and grow. They can’t be perfect or they aren’t interesting or believable. At the same time, we have to root for them and trust in their intrinsic goodness, even when they’re struggling. The plot will present them with challenges, but it is their response to those challenges that really connects them to the reader and invests the reader in the story.
Sometimes, for a heroic protagonist, it’s a matter of making the best awful choice out of only awful choices. As a writer, I purposefully throw my characters into some pretty rough situations and let them claw their way out. My main male character in the HORIZON series is an inter-planetary spy. He works for the good guys, but he’s often in situations that require him to make split-second, gut-wrenching decisions. It’s my job to show him grappling with those. If they were easy, or if they didn’t have lasting side effects, readers wouldn’t relate to him.
My main female character is also a heroic protagonist. She’s suffered terrible trauma at the hands of a brutal dictator, but instead of allowing that trauma to crush her, she’s joined a resistance movement and aligned herself with their cause. If, however, her suffering didn’t affect her or impact her future actions and choices, she’d lack depth. And, we’d never get to see her triumph over her demons.
In my opinion, readers don’t want perfect heroes. I think they want human heroes - heroes who are flawed and relatable, but despite having to overcome great adversity, still triumph. So, step aboard the starship HORIZON and meet Caeli and Derek, the heroes of my imagination, and let me know what you think!