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Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair
Review by Madeleine Yeh
Spectra Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 0553587986
Date: 26 April, 2005 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Finders Keepers is a cross between a Harlequin Romance; aristocratic military officier falls for poor girl from the wrong side of the track, and a science fiction space opera, pirates and aliens and military attacks. The space opera combines Star Wars with odd elements from Star Trek and Babylon Five.

As a Romance story goes this novel is adequate. Trilby Elliot, the heroine is a fairly believable character. She is an independent freighter captain with a small ancient ship, operating with only an old 'droid, who is barely making a living on the economic fringes of society. Her rich upperclass boyfriend has become engaged to a suitable upperclass girl. Trilby has sworn off men in general, and arrogant rich upperclass men in particular. Trilby is repairing her ship on an uninhabited world, when a fighter pilot crashes on it. She rescues him. The pilot is an officier in the Zafarian navy, a lieutenant from the famous Razalka. Trilby is attracted to his well developed muscles and handsome face. A lowly lieutenant would have had similiar experience with overbearing superiors. After an escape from the murderous alien 'sko, a space battle and pursuit, they go to a Zaforian space station where she finds that Rhis Vanur, her beautiful lieutenant, is actually the infamous Khyris Tivhar, senior Captain of the Razalka. The next two thirds of the book in true romantic fashion has Tivhar courting Elliot. Tivhar doesn't carry off his share of the romance. His public persona is an arrogant, competent, ruthless military machine, the terror of friend and foe. He must have a nicer, better balanced personality; his officiers are fervently loyal and he has the trust of his superiors, but the story doesn't explain this.

The Science fiction aspect is badly jarring. It seems like every single cliche appears in this story. Elliot Trilby is first encountered on an uninhabited world, repairing her ship, like a shade tree mechanic changing oil on a semi. Her only crew is a diplomatic 'droid. The ship ducks into an asteriod field to escape pursuing 'Sko pirates. It uses braking vanes to slow down while traveling in deep space. Both of the main characters hack freely into the ship's computer. Force fields, invisibility cloaks. Jump gates and ship routes and space beacons. The technology shifts to suit the story. Jump gates and space beacons appear when the plot needs advancement.

The alien piratical 'Sko are the worst handled aspects. They are both well known and a complete mystery in differerent chapters. No one knows much about the 'Sko species, yet expatriate 'Sko live on human worlds. The human governments know something about their political structure and can understand their transmissions but doesn't know why they are a menace to space shipping. A human villian plots with the 'Sko against his own people, with little motivation.

The worse thing about this book is a lack of charm. I don't feel drawn to the characters. I can't bury myself in the story, overlooking logical discrepencies and minor inconsistencies. I don't care if Khyris Tivhar finds true love. The 'Sko are persuing Elliot Trilby's ship for a completely unbelievable reason. I don't have any desire to read more books by this author. There are some good aspects to this novel. The subordinate characters are distinct and well drawn but they do not make up for such a chaotic universe.

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