Life on Earth is no longer sustainable. In a last-ditch effort to ensure the survival of the human race, 10 colony ships are dispatched to establish a new home on planet Proxima B. Dr. Leah Warren is a geologist on the 5th ship which houses the science crew. However, when she awakens from stasis, she discovers something has gone terribly wrong. Her ship has landed; but she isn’t sure where and she is the sole survivor of the journey.
When she leaves the safety of her ship to investigate her new surroundings, she is captured by a rough group of men who intend to auction her off to the highest bidder. Their nefarious plans are thwarted, however, when Commander Keegan, a tall and muscular clan warrior, rescues her from their clutches.
Unsure if she’s truly been rescued or simply swapped captors, Leah must now navigate the culture and politics of a new world along with a growing desire for the woman who saved her. Meanwhile a storm is brewing as the clan’s leader lay dying. His son, Tiago is formulating a dark plot that could see Keegan destroyed, Leah enslaved, and the remainder of the planet’s population plunged into utter destitution and fear.
Leah is strong, intelligent and a little stubborn. I love how we are introduced to her. Awakening from stasis, she is confused and alone. Her disorientation grows as she experiences severe culture shock in this new society. Lacking any power, family or relevant knowledge, she struggles to understand her new hostile and misogynistic environment.
Vaun brilliantly takes the reader on this journey with Leah which is uncomfortable and bewildering but allows you to really connect with her character and understand her feelings and choices. You feel what it is like to be the outsider looking in.
Keegan is definitely my kind of character. Presented as a stereotypical soldier at first, she is strong, intelligent, loyal, and also lethal. However, we see early on that she has more depth and is also selfless, caring and protective. She has grown up in a classist society where women are property unless they’re strong enough to be a warrior. I loved watching her realize the fallacy of this system and instead of dwelling on the seemingly herculean task of changing it, take action.
The relationship between Keegan and Leah begins with a vast power differential. Keegan is a high-ranking soldier and used to being obeyed whereas Leah is a stranger to the land, bereft of status but accustomed to equality. The attraction between the two is instantaneous. It seems more lustful than loving at first, but the lust/hate sexual tension evolves into a deeper attraction when they are on more even ground and a steamy chemistry develops.
The Writing Style
The world building is spectacular. I love the concept of a planet where half is bathed in eternal sunlight, and the other half in eternal darkness. Vaun brings the planet to life through richly descriptive language that easily enables you to envision its cities, dry and barren deserts and cold, dark hills. Vaun also develops an interesting and intricate social and political structure based on the colony ship designations.
The pacing is steady, however I felt as though the ending was a little rushed. It is not an overly complicated plot, but still a very enjoyable read.
One of my favourite themes in this book its reflection on society. Even after a fresh start, humanity repeats the same mistakes of its past in the new colony. Greed, selfishness and the lust for power prevail once again, but can the actions of a few change the way the world works? Interestingly, the one ship that did not make the initial journey was the science vessel. Vaun has depicted the type of society that arises when science is absent, and it isn’t pretty. Can the return of science restore hope for humanity’s future? I loved how this played out.
Before reading this book, I feel readers should be aware of a couple potentially problematic themes. On Proxima B, not only is there severe classism, but there is also extreme misogyny. Women, for the most part, are treated as property, either as slaves or concubines. It works in terms of the development of the story, but it is something to be aware of before reading.
There is also an uncomfortable sex scene between Keegan and Leah that verges on non-consensual with the potential of rape occurring. Ultimately, this does not happen, but there is a moment when you believe it will that could be unsettling.
This is a great dystopian/science fiction novel with fantastic world building, action, betrayal and a smoking hot relationship between two strong women. It will make you examine society, question the status quo and realize it is possible with love and hope to achieve a better tomorrow.
Excerpt from Proxima Five by Missouri Vaun
Keegan knelt down, pushed strands of hair off Leah’s face, and studied her delicate features. Her cheeks were flushed, but otherwise her skin was pale. Keegan had never seen someone so pale, as if she’d been living underground, protected from the elements. Leah’s hair was dark, and Keegan had noticed her gray eyes the minute she’d gotten close enough to see their color. Gray eyes were rare. Everything about Leah seemed rare and otherworldly. Keegan rocked back on her heels and tried to imagine what this woman could possibly have been doing in the desert to come in contact with these men. Her body had no markings of ownership. Her pale skin implied she’d spent time in the Dark Hills. But she’d been tied up, so these men were not her family or her friends. Leah had been with them against her will.
She held Leah’s hand up and examined her slender, tapered fingers. Soft, smooth, no calluses anywhere. Her breasts, where they showed above the torn front of her shirt, were unblemished and full, the sensual curve of her stomach was exposed at the hem of her shirt. Leah was exquisite.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781635551228
- Publisher: Bold Stroke Books
Missouri Vaun Online
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