Series: Santuario, Book 1
Author: G.B. Gordon
Genre: Science Fiction, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Steamy
Source: review copy from publisher via NetGalley
Published: October 2012 by Riptide Publishing
Police teniente Alex Rukow has spent his life trapped on Santuario, his people’s isolated home-slash-prison-island. They’ve been living in poverty under the tyrannical regime of their own elite familias for the last two-hundred years, ever since their generation ship landed on the planet and found it already populated by earlier Earth settlers, the Skanians, who banished them to the inhospitable south.
Increasingly shamed by the decisions of their ancestors, the Skanians seek to open their borders. But dissent exists on both sides, and in the midst of this explosive political situation, a dead body appears on the island.
Bengt, a Skanian investigator, is shipped to Santuario to lead the murder investigation—which, he quickly realizes, the local teniente wants nothing to do with. As far as Bengt is concerned, things can’t get worse than the brutal climate, his own memories, and a growing attraction to a partner who will barely say two words to him. But then he and Alex run afoul of the local familias, and the problems with their investigation and their budding relationship seem like nothing compared to just getting out of this whole mess alive.
Reviewed By: J9
In a Nutshell: Great sci-fi world with wonderful atmosphere but not a true romance in my opinion.
The Set Up: Alex is a police officer on the isolated poverty-stricken island of Santuario. When a mysterious dead body washes ashore, Alex calls the ruling Skanians on another continent to help solve the murder. Bengt is the Skanian investigator sent to Santuario to work with Alex but when he and Alex run afoul of the local mob families, their very lives are in danger.
Why I Read this Book: I loved the synopsis on NetGalley and wanted to read it.
What I Liked: The sci-fi world is great here. The planet was settled by Earth settlers who remind me of Swedes but then a ship of Hispanic-like settlers arrived and were forcefully settled on a jungle island with no way off. Now 200 years later the Santuarions want to be integrated into the Skanian society. There are a lot of cultural differences between Alex and Bengt and I liked this imaginative exploration a lot.
The mystery plot of the dead body and how the men work to solve the case is fast paced and kept my attention as well. The mob families have a lot of power on Santuario and it was a bit violent for poor Alex as he worked this case. Overall the suspense part of this pot worked well in my opinion.
What I Didn’t Like: The romance failed for me. There is no sexual or emotional intimacy until 20 pages before the book ends and that was barely explored. Worse, the men’s relationship is unresolved and left me pissed that I’d invest my time to read a suspense book masquerading as a romance. I read romance because I want the relationship to be the book’s focus and that wasn’t the case here in my opinion. I know this is set up as book one in a series but there is nothing in this relationship to make me want to continue reading about the men in subsequent books.
IMO: This book worked as a sci-fi suspense novel but not as a romance novel.