Next up here I have a special treat. I was digging around some old electronic files recently and found some things that I treasure almost as much as some of my old paperbacks. A lot of people nowadays know about a book called Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair. But do they know about or have the original story that appeared as an e-book called Command Performance from before she made it to the big time in print?
I do, plus several of her other books in their original e-book form. 😀
Anyhow, I bring all this up to point out that prior to say, about, oh, 2001, I’d most likely already bought some e-books off the Internet but I wasn’t all that sold on the practice. To say it was a hit-or-miss proposition was an understatement. Do not get me wrong. There were already several fairly well-established electronic publishers who were producing good work in the romance line out there and they weren’t all focused on erotica/erotic romance, either. Some of my earliest romance e-book purchases were from Hard Shell Word Factory, which is still open as far as I know, and LTD Books before it closed.
For some odd reason, most of the e-books I picked up back then tended towards a combination of science fiction and romance. Not all, but definitely the majority. They weren’t all great writing but, hey, at least they were attempts to make the combination work. It seemed the time had come and I was finally on that quest to find that one last thing that the mainstream romance genre wasn’t doing to my satisfaction. Oh, it was still dancing around it. All over the place, but it wasn’t really doing it.
Not to my science fiction-fantasy-romance fan satisfaction. And therein lay the problem. I am a reader of romance but I am a huge fan of science fiction. Fantasy, too, but in a more tempered, mythological way, if that makes any sense at all.
And then I stumbled across Linnea Sinclair’s e-books.
Oh. My. God. And that’s putting it mildly. 😀
Okay, very rarely do I openly declare myself a fan of any one author. Also very rarely do I openly promote individual authors. So, let me put it this way, I distinctly remember that right after first reading her ebooks, I started raving about them on every forum I visited like they were water in the desert, which in a certain sense they were. The simple reason is that I’ve never in my life read anything that comes as close to being that elusive half & half romance combined with something else as her books do.
It wasn’t just one book either. I don’t remember the order I read them in originally, and it doesn’t really matter, but I do know that four of them were spot-on for me – Command Performance, Finders Keepers, Accidental Goddess and Gabriel’s Ghost. I loved them all but Gabriel’s Ghost blew me away because it was in first person heroine’s point of view. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d willingly read, much less enjoyed, a first person romance. Years don’t even come close. Decades is more like it.
You have to understand something here. It’s not simply that I don’t care for first person because I do appreciate its advantages as a narrative device in certain stories. It’s more that I learned to avoid it after reading way too many of those old Gothic romantic suspense novels that featured the more or less brain dead heroine who was perfectly willing to believe anything bad about the hero on the basis of very little information, run into the worst places at the drop of a hat to get herself in trouble, again with very little to go on, and who ends up falling in love with him, yet, again, on the basis of what? More or less nothing. All told from within her viewpoint.
I swear to this day that those old stories are a large part of why so many romance readers are so insistent on hero’s viewpoints getting equal playing time with heroine’s points of view in romances today. We want to at least know why they’re both acting stupidly – if we have to put up with it at all. 😉
But I digress. All of Sinclair’s stories feature a strong competent heroine, perfectly capable of holding their own with any of the guys. In all ways. Gabriel’s Ghost goes one step farther and shows not only her capabilities but her vulnerabilities yet still manages to show his, too, as it slowly peeled the layers off of these two complex characters. Now that is what a first person romance is designed to do.
Heck, it’s what a romance, period, is designed to do.
And to do it with science fiction equally layered in, of all things? Whoa.
Now the science fiction geeks among us could argue and maybe even rightly so that even her books don’t have enough science fiction in them to qualify for that magical half & half label but that’s not really the point. Not to me and, to be perfectly honest, not in the grand scheme of things. Because, you see, the point isn’t whether there’s enough science fiction there to satisfy the science fiction fans that all things are equal. The point is that there’s plenty of science fiction and, yet, still enough romance that’s not overwhelmed by the science fiction.
Because that’s what I – a longtime romance reader – had been searching for. An honest-to-goodness romance combined with an honest-to-goodness science fiction. Not one tacked onto the other as an afterthought.
Oh, yeah. The sex. Was there sex? Well, yeah, there’s sex in her books, but honestly, who cares. We got science fiction and romance.
Sometimes with a cyborg.
Okay, I couldn’t resist that. So sue me. 😀