Alison Aimes has hit the mark with her debut SciFi Romance novel Trapped. Strong on romance with an interesting SciFi setting, Trapped is about survival, sacrifice, love, hope and ultimately – salvation.
The setting is Dragath25, a desert planet that was turned into a prison world over 2,000 years ago.
The idea of this kind of a prison planet with no authority other than prisoners bothers me on a human level. The weak are doomed to a violent end. Some might say, ‘Why not? They are criminals.’ Sadly, in the future that this story takes place in, the elite Council descendants show little humanity toward anyone but themselves.
Only the strong survive. Prisoner 673 is one of the strong. He has set himself apart from the rest of the prisoners, one assumes, in an effort not to descend to their level. When he meets Cadet Bella West, he recognizes a survivor and nicknames her ‘fighter girl’ after he watches her deal with the soldiers that were bullying her rather than protecting her. Immediately, as a reader, I recognized that 673 is not the beast he seems to think he is.
Upon being thrust into a situation she and her injured companions cannot possibly survive, Bella offers anything in order to obtain help from prisoner 673. Anything. With an agreement struck, the partnership begins. In addition to being a fighter girl, Bella is a sweetheart. Just as she cannot desert her Council descendent friends and she chooses to see the good in them, her heart doesn’t allow her to see 673 as a beast. And almost immediately, 673 will prove he is so much better than a beast, even though he would not admit it.
The first trade (sex) between Bella and 673 is the initial step to a bond developing between them. Tentative at first, for both, then sweet, then passionate and, finally, hot! I liked this initial sex scene where both Bella and 673 learn about each others intentions, and therefore, their hearts. Though that part about hearts will remain unacknowledged for several chapters in the book.
The heroine and hero have much to learn about each other and about themselves. In the process, a chance for the future emerges. I enjoyed watching these two characters grow through the story, especially 673. Bella and 673 were emotionally complex and made me want to read Trapped, to see how far their love would take them.
Most non-main characters were pretty much caricatures. Crazy-evil-violent, stupid-stubborn-verging-on-bad-guy, or narrow-minded-and-power-hungry. I would have liked to see some better character development, even for the bad guys. Perhaps they are one and done and the next book in the Condemned series will have new bad guys.
A couple of the secondary characters, Winthrop and Davies, got a little more attention. Their place in the story did not feel throwaway and in fact, both had their own heroic moments in the story.
Trapped is a SciFi Romance tale with a desperate adventure on a challenging world and plenty of passion between two appealing characters. Ms. Aimes has written the first book of a promising series.
ARC provided by Net Galley.