Review: Perfect Homecoming by Sandra Sookoo

phssPerfect Homecoming is a Science Fiction Romance novella by Sandra Sookoo. It wasn’t without its flaws, but it was a nice, light read. And I will definitely be checking out more books by this author. (Please note: This book was provided to SG for review around Christmas last year and Charlee apologizes that we weren’t able to get to it sooner. Isn’t it nice to recall a winter holiday in July?)

Setting/Story/Characters Impressions:

Christmas is a central theme and I think the author did a very good job integrating the very earthy holiday in a sterile space station setting. There is a very interesting scene, where the hero uses a program he wrote on a holo-deck to simulate the picture of the American living room come that time of year, complete with festive food and presents. It was very well done.

The first time we meet the hero, Andrew, he’s guiding a military cadet through a shuttle mission. He’s patient, encouraging and really seems to know his stuff. I was immediately intrigued about him and what he was doing so far away from earth so close to Christmas. I mean, he generally seemed like a nice guy. Surely, there as someone just waiting to drop a gift-wrapped phaser in his Christmas stocking, if ya catch my drift.

The first time we meet the heroine, Mira, she’s thieving, i.e. eating from a buffet table setup in the space station commissary without paying for it—pick pocketing pedestrians along the way.( That’s actually how the hero meets her. Talk about a very cute meet.) She’s fresh from a smooth prison break, and is trying to bide her time on the space station until she can catch the next transport. She’s not quite she where she’s headed, but she’s ripped off so many people that she’s not entirely too picky as long as it doesn’t end with her neck on a block.

All of this setup was done really well. The hero and heroine were both well-developed and nicely drawn. That being said, something smacked contrived about the hero to me. I’m not sure if it was actually the character or the writing used to frame his actions, etc.

Like you know when the author introduces this assassin (or some similar form of “Oooo, he’s powerful” or “Oh! He’s panty-soaking competent!”) and spends the next ten pages telling about what an awesome, deadly, “I can shoot the wings off a fly” holy mother of badass this guy is—and you’re kind of confused because the guy doesn’t really “act” like a badass. Like the most badass thing he’s done the last fifty pages you’ve been reading is swatting a fruit fly in under an hour. But you’re like, “Meh, maybe it’ll come.”

But it never does. The narrative and description just continues to conflict with the actual character’s action. So by the end, when the author mentions how the hero is like so ubber smooth, you roll your eyes because not two pages ago he tripped over a piece of dust. Yeah, that is the kind of narrative vs. characterization incongruence that continuously pulled me out of the story and stopped what might have turned an alpha military guy into a pile of sex for me.

To me, the way the narrative was describing him as “alpha” was contrived. Mostly because the guy was a gamma. Seriously, the more “alpha” I was supposed to see, the less I actually did. The heroine was actually more dominant in the relationship, which is fine. But call a tracker-beam a tracker-beam and an alpha an alpha.

The heroine’s characterization was executed a lot better. Actually, usually I’m mildly annoyed by the whole “no one will love me because my actual form is ugly” type of Beauty and the Beast conflict in a woman. Why? It’s usually the heroine’s only conflict and it makes for a really boring book and an irritatingly whimpy FMC. That didn’t happen this time. The heroine did have other concerns like getting out of Dodge before someone played pin the laser flare on her ass. I appreciated that.

She was also portrayed as a competent thief, which I also appreciated. Once again, if the narrative does nothing but moan about what a badass thief someone is and I don’t ever actually get to see them steal something successfully, I am instantly peeved. Thankfully, that was avoided. She actually stole all the time.

Now, I did have some logic issues with the plot. Not the actual plot of the story. That was fairly simple and is hardly worth mentioning as this story really only focused on the “romance” and not the circumstances “framing” the romance.

What I had a problem with had more to do with some of the story logic the plot relied on. For instance, part of this story relied on the hero not knowing the heroine was an alien. She’s got that Beauty and the Beast quirk, remember? Yeah, well—she also spends like most of her time slipping up. Saying things and behaving in ways that would’ve flagged she’s an alien to anyone who has IQ enough to tie their shoes. Seriously. It was that obvious.

How long does it take our hero to “put the pieces together?” Like most of the book. It was so outrageous that by the time he was like “so, I know you’re not from Earth. Why? *taps noggin* I’m hella smart” I literally exclaimed in the dead of night to all the crickets watching me read, “Get the f*ck outta here, Sherlock! Like seriously, I kneel before Zod and your powers of deduction.”

That being said, their actual romance does progress very nicely. It was cute and romantic in a way that I think some readers are really going to enjoy.

The Steamy Bits

Well-written and appropriate to the characters.

One thing I must give the author credit for is giving the sex room to grow. Do the hero and heroine have a slightly drunken one nightstand after their first meeting? Yeah, but it isn’t perfect. It isn’t even mind blowing, and that was really nice. Fresh, even. Because it made the second time–when they’re in love and it was great–that much more special.

Paranormal/Sci-Fi Aspects

The aliens and the diversity among them was very well portrayed. I had a clear picture of the few planets and species that were mentioned. I especially loved the way the heroine’s native species was handled. She is an alien from Neptune, and the author took the time to give her species scientific and practical reasons for the way she looked.

For instance, she had tentacles? Why? Because Neptune is far away from the sun and light is hard to come by. The tentacles helped her “see” like a bat’s sonar.

Or what about the gills? Neptune’s atmosphere is thin and they helped her body absorb oxygen more efficiently to help supplement what she couldn’t take in through her lungs. Brilliant.

If more detail had been needed about the other aliens we glimpsed in this book, I’m sure they would’ve been just as cool. The author’s aliens, the culture and their impact on the humans in her world were all superbly done and my favorite part of the book.

Style and Presentation

Some of the dialog was good. Some of it was ridiculous. Most of the ridiculous lines came from the hero. I’ve been surrounded by military men my entire life, I’ve never once heard any of them wax on all poetically the way the hero in this book did. About his feelings! (Yes, this is the very same guy that was supposedly “alpha.”) Of course, I wouldn’t have minded if it had been backed up with a line where the reader found out about the hero’s fondness for reading, poetry or something similar.

As it was, it smacked of unbelievable and amusing sometimes. It really was very obvious that this man wasn’t “real.” He was a woman speaking as a man. If you took away the dialog tags on a ream of conversation between the hero and heroine, you’d find that a) they mostly sounded the same OR b) you’d probably think the heroine was the dude.

Otherwise, the book was very well-written. The setting description was especially lush.

Presentation: Book Cover

I haven’t usually included this in my reviews as a point of remark, but it needs to be said—the cover is lacking. It doesn’t really do the story justice, and I (as a reader) wouldn’t have been compelled to purchase the book based on the cover. I would definitely recommend it be redone simply as a selling point.

Closing Notes and Recommendation

If you’re just looking for a light, romantic read to warm your space shuttle—this is the one. (It’ll go nice with eggnog.)

Length: Novella

Genre: Science Fiction Romance

Primary Book Format: e-Book

Publisher/Imprint: Purple Sword Publications

Blush Quotient: Shimmering Pink

Smart Girls Rating: 3 Star

Buy it Here: Amazon

Find out more info about the author and series here: Author Website

(Disclaimer: This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.)