Series: The Phoenix Adventures

Crashed on an Ice World by Anna Hackett

Crashed on an Ice World by Anna HackettCrashed on an Ice World by Anna Hackett
Series: The Phoenix Adventures #9
Published by Anna Hackett Pages: 125
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three-stars

He’s her boss. She’s his best friend. These two deep-space convoy security specialists are fighting their simmering attraction…until a starship crash on a deadly ice world changes everything.

Elana Korra loves her security job as a medic on the convoy ship, the Sky Nomad…except for the fact that she’s in love with her boss. Rynan is tough, loyal, and protective, and she knows he will never cross the line with her despite her deepest fantasies. But one scorching kiss sets up a smoldering tension, and as they head off into uncharted space on a treasure hunt to find an invaluable old Earth treasure, Elana knows it is time to make a change—get Ry to admit how he feels about her or leave. But a deadly attack leaves Ry and Elana on a damaged, out-of-control ship hurtling toward an unforgiving ice world.

Rynan Phoenix lives for his job of keeping the Phoenix Deep-Space Convoy safe. The nightmare of his childhood has taught him to steer well clear of romantic relationships, and he’s forced himself to ignore Elana’s compact body and gorgeous face. But when they find themselves stranded on an ice world with passengers to protect and space pirates hunting them down, Ry is forced to confront just how he feels about the most important woman in his life.

Ry and Elana will need all of their training in order to keep themselves alive. As they find hints to the old Earth treasure, their desire turns hotter and deeper…but then they discover that far more dangerous things call this ice planet home…

I got into this one with trepidation, not because of Anna Hackett’s world-building—that one’s flawless, imaginative and has a tendency to suck you in no matter what book series Hackett is publishing at any time. The search for a Viking treasure trove on an ice planet, the chase by space mercenaries, the ultimate find…let’s just say it’s an exhilarating ride, the way any Indiana Jones movie is.

But if I found the treasure-hunting adventure fascinating, the relationship between Rynan and Elana was less so, simply because this dealt with the unrequited love of a woman who had gone years putting her dreams aside for her best friend who didn’t want to see her as anything more, yet hooked up with everyone and anyone in this time, right in her face. All this because of his mummy-issues that he couldn’t get over, and also used as excuses for his lifestyle and behaviour.

That alone nearly made me put down the book several times in the story.

In ‘Crashed on an Ice World’, several pivotal moments changed this holding pattern, though apparently all it took was the word of an old woman to make Rynan realise that he had been in love with Elana all along, to suddenly want to be all-in with her. Elana quitting to finally move on with her life, was still not enough for Rynan to risk stepping past that boundary. This ‘conversion’ was way too unbelievable, but apparently a leopard could change its spots, as Rynan went from commitment-phobic to all-committed in the space of second…free to suddenly take up with Elana at the flip of the switch.

I wish I could recommend this one more, but the pairing and the convenience of it just made me cringe. The whole treasure-hunting journey kept me reading however—it’s a very, very short read that tops out at 125 pages—though I found it simply hard to get on board with a protagonist who’d for so long, wanted the woman in front of him, but shoved it aside for other women.

three-stars

On a Barbarian World by Anna Hackett

On a Barbarian World by Anna HackettOn a Barbarian World by Anna Hackett
Series: The Phoenix Adventures, #8
Published by Amazon Digital Services on December 18th 2015
Pages: 184
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two-stars

When an independent deep-space scout crash-lands on an unknown alien world, the last thing she expects is to find herself claimed by a barbarian warrior.

Aurina Phoenix spends most of her time zooming through uncharted space and gathering intel for her family's deep-space convoy, but her life takes an unexpected detour when a meteor shower brings down her ship. She finds herself on a barren, low-tech planet inhabited by dangerous beasts...and lands in the arms of a brawny barbarian warlord.

Markarian warrior Kavon Mal Dor is known for his skill in battle. He lives to protect his clan...and to avenge the murder of his father. Every move he makes is part of his grand plan for revenge, including finding a legendary sword and marrying a warlord's daughter. But when a beautiful skyflyer crashes into his world, she is the one thing he never counted on.

Fighting their incendiary attraction, Aurina and Kavon make a deal: she'll help him find the sword and in return, he'll give her the emergency beacon she needs to get home. But as the search for the sword plunges them into a dangerous adventure they find themselves consumed by a powerful passion and questioning everything they've ever wanted.

‘On a Barbarian World’ begins like the rest of the books in this series; the main characters are placed in an untenable situation, where their beliefs are poles apart, until crisis bonds them and eventually brings them together.

While I love the imaginative fervour and the great sense of adventure of the Phoenix series however, the ‘barbarian’ construct in this one managed to raise my hackles each time I read about the way Kavon the Warlord bosses his dominance over his territory, over his men and the array of luscious women available for his ‘sampling’…until he meets Aurina Phoenix, the woman who refuses to conform to his way of life. For this reason I found it impossible to taking a liking to Kavon – protective instincts or otherwise – and the way it all ends, with some sort of compromise that I found entirely ridiculous and unbelievable. Throw in the near, instant love (or rather, that strange thing called lust that neither can seem to overcome except for screwing each other senseless), and I’ve a guaranteed foot out the doorway with a grimace on my face.

I’m going to be treading very carefully when it comes to this ‘barbarian’ arc of stories now, simply because being swung up, carried over some brawny giant’s shoulder – while being subjected to his medieval treatise on ‘protection’, ‘claiming’ and his bevy of disposable women – is just the bitter cup of tea that I need.

two-stars

Return to Dark Earth by Anna Hackett

Return to Dark Earth by Anna HackettReturn to Dark Earth by Anna Hackett
Series: The Phoenix Adventures #7
Published by Smashwords Edition on September 8th 2015
Pages: 220
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three-stars

His career plan never included becoming one of the galaxy’s most infamous treasure hunters. And it certainly never included his one weakness: Nera Darc.
Astro-archeologist Niklas Phoenix loved his job studying and safeguarding artifacts at the Institute of Historical Preservation…until he learned that it was all a lie. Forced out of the Institute, he joins his treasure hunter brothers, but now the Institute is trying to lure him back for the ultimate treasure hunt—a return to the planet that seeded life throughout the galaxy. But only one thing convinces him to go—his deadly, seductive rival has joined the expedition.
Dangerous and enigmatic, Nera Darc has made a life for herself where she calls the shots and bows to no one. Niklas Phoenix has become her dark obsession and on the lethal mission to Earth, they are compelled to join forces to survive. But Niklas threatens to tear down Nera’s internal walls and melt the ice around her heart…but she knows caring for someone is just a weakness others can exploit.
As Nik and Nera strip away each other’s secrets, a brilliant passion is unleashed, but the dangers of Earth strike from every side, and a darker enemy is closing in.

I feel somewhat torn in trying to rate this book. Nera/Nik is a pairing that’s been a long time in coming, and ‘Return to Dark Earth’ promises a breathless adventure through an Earth so destroyed that it is near unrecognisable. Yet it’s missing the camaraderie of the Phoenix brothers that has been present nearly throughout the series, a component that I felt was vital to the mood and tone of the story. Instead, the introduction of new characters felt awkward and left me wishing that the old gang could have been there instead.

three-stars

In the Devil’s Nebula by Anna Hackett

In the Devil’s Nebula by Anna HackettIn the Devil's Nebula by Anna Hackett
Series: The Phoenix Adventures #2
Published by Smashwords Edition on July 16th 2014
Pages: 176
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five-stars

He lost it all. His career, his woman, his sanity. Two years ago, on a deadly mission to the lawless Devil’s Nebula, Commander Zayn Phoenix’s life imploded. Now the former Strike Wing pilot fills his days with dangerous adventures alongside his treasure hunter brothers. But his nights are another story: haunted by nightmares of one unforgivable act. Until an assassin lures him into a hunt. A hunt for her freedom from the Assassin’s Guild. A hunt for a derringer used in an ancient and infamous assassination—of old Earth president, Abraham Lincoln. Zayn is compelled to join the perilous adventure with Ria Dante that will take them straight into the heart of the Devil’s Nebula, but not for money, fame or treasure. He joins because Ria has the face of the woman he left for dead in the Nebula years before.

‘In The Devil’s Nebula’ is quite the revelation in this series – exciting, fast-paced and rather extraordinary in the expansion of the space-treasure-hunting world that Anna Hackett has created.

I was waiting for Zayn Phoenix’s story and Ms. Hackett delivers one that is unforgettable. Haunted by his captivity and a death that shouldn’t have happened, he finally faces his past again in the form of an assassin – a woman whom he thought he’d killed 2 years ago. But Ria isn’t his dead commander – yet at first glance, she’s everything he knows he’d lost.

There was much to love about this book: the breathless adventure, the mix of myth and legends and the growing relationship between Ria and Zayn. While I was initially frustrated by the apparent coincidences that weren’t quite explained in the first three-quarters of the book, I’m glad to say that these were resolved with a mind-boggling revelation that actually took me a while to take in.

five-stars