Blog Tour and Giveaway: Adrift: Isabelle Adler

Isabelle Adler
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Released January 30, 2017
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Some jobs are just too good to be true.

Captain Matt Spears learns this the hard way after a mysterious employer hires his ship to hunt down an ancient alien artifact but insists on providing his own pilot. Ryce Faine is handsome and smart, but Matt has rarely met anyone more obnoxious. With tensions running high, it isn’t until they are attacked by the hostile Alraki that Matt grudgingly begins to respect Ryce’s superior skills, respect that transforms into a tentative attraction.

Little did he know that their biggest challenge would be reaching their destination, an abandoned alien base located on a distant moon amid a dense asteroid field. But when Matt learns that Ryce isn’t completely who he says he is and the artifact is more than he bargained for, he is faced with a difficult choice. One that might change the balance of forces in the known galaxy.

Matt doesn’t take well to moral dilemmas; he prefers the easy way out. But that might not be possible anymore, when his past comes back to haunt him at the worst possible moment. When faced with a notorious pirate carrying a personal grudge, the fragile connection Matt has formed with Ryce might be the only thing that he can count on to save them both.

Before I get into my review of Adrift, by Isabelle Adler, take note that this novel is first and foremost a work of science fiction! While it has a small M/M romantic element to it, reading it with the thought that it is a romance novel, erotic or otherwise, will leave you sorely disappointed. I must admit, I fell into that trap, as I’m always on the lookout for good books that blend my two favorite genres. Viewing this through the lens as a purely science-fiction novel, I can comfortably and objectively state that this author’s debut novel is a good read for those who prefer their sci-fi not to be deep or heavy and are looking for sci-fi stories with LGBTQ characters that don’t involve graphic sex.

Matt Spears is the captain of his own spaceship with a crew of three, hired by clients requiring discretion in performing jobs of dubious (or not-so-dubious) legality. He’s just accepted a job that pays so well that he ignores his better sense about it being too good to be true. On the surface, it’s a simple salvage mission: fly to a moon in a remote part of known space to retrieve an artifact of an ancient and long-extinct alien race. The catch is that Matt won’t be flying the ship. The client’s biggest stipulations are that his man, Ryce Faine, will pilot Matt’s vessel and that everything else about the job is a secret. But when the artifact turns out to be of a nature far more dangerous than he bargained for, Matt is faced with a choice that could tip the balance of power in known space.

This sort of set-up is certainly not new in sci-fi. Throw in some tension with several shady characters and past nemeses, and it’s a recipe that has worked in many a genre. Fortunately, it works in Adrift as well. Much of the story feels like it could be the pilot episode of a TV show. There aren’t big pyrotechnics or epic space chase/battle scenes, just a well-composed story with plenty of tension set in a space environment with characters that can be easily identified with, even if they aren’t deeply developed.

These facts (along with the fact that the title page of the novel identifies this as book one of a series called Staying Afloat) make me think that Adrift is likely the first in a serial-type series of novels. Though I haven’t found any other indication of this, I hope it is the case, as there were plenty of loose ends that would allow a continuation of the story found here. The romance-lover in me also hopes that we will get a continuation, because the romantic aspect of this book is very light—three fully-clothed kisses is all we get. I want to get the feels I so love about romantic fiction, and these two characters definitely have potential. In this novel, though, outside the initial physical attraction, I honestly don’t understand why Matt and Ryce are attracted to each other in a way that is beyond the friendship that forms out of the mutual trust they build in the story. Therefore, more would be a good thing.

As far as the storytelling is concerned, this plot falls into the category I refer to as fun science fiction. By that, I mean the storyline isn’t the sort that makes the reader think deeply about some social issue or moral dilemma our modern-day existence presents. Instead, it’s a story that, with suitable changes, could as easily have taken place in another genre, say as a Western. The writing style is smooth and clean; nothing about the author’s writing pulled me out of the story. And the quality of the plot was well-developed enough to keep it from being predictable.

As a whole, Adrift is a good debut effort as a work of science fiction. From the romance standpoint, it’s almost not existent. That being said, I’m always appreciative of positive portrayals of LGBTQ characters in fictional worlds where the issue of a person’s sexuality is no big deal. I said before that more stories from this author would be a good thing. I must amend that to say that more would be a very good thing, because both aspects show potential.

The author and/or publisher generously provided me a complimentary copy of Adrift in exchange for this fair and honest review.
“No way,” Matt said. “No way in hell.”

The low hum of music and the loud voices threatened to swallow his response. The Blue Giant was like any other canteen on any other small-time maintenance space station, offering cheap drinks and free talk, catering to drifters, smugglers, freelance pilots, and the dregs of every known society. The strong smell of synthetic spirits enveloped the crowded room in an almost tangible cloud. It really wasn’t the best location for conducting business, even over interstellar communications channels, but one could stand being cooped up in a spaceship for only so long.

Matt ignored the noise best he could as he squinted at the commlink screen. This wasn’t a regular type of job, but then again, freelancers didn’t exactly have regular jobs. As it was, this one promised to be very well paying. His potential client had introduced himself as Mr. Ari, though Matt suspected it wasn’t his real name. They usually weren’t. At the moment, he was more concerned with Mr. Ari’s terms and conditions than with his identity, fake or otherwise.

“This is nonnegotiable,” Ari said firmly. There was no image on-screen, just his computer-altered voice in the earpiece. “I require that my own pilot navigate your ship to destination. He’s the only one who will know the exact route and the details of the mission. I’m merely hiring your ship to transport my man and provide him with assistance.”

“It’s my ship and I’m the only one flying her,” Matt said indignantly. “No way I’ll just let some stranger take over. Now, a passenger, that’s another matter. I’ve nothing against passengers, so long as they’re nice and quiet.” And good-looking, but he wasn’t about to say that to the client’s face, or to the lack thereof, as the case was. But another pilot? This was ridiculous. If the only thing this guy needed was a ship, there were much simpler alternatives than hiring Matt’s services.

“As I’ve said before, Captain, this job requires subtlety and a very specific set of skills,” Ari said. Even with the distortion, he somehow managed to make “Captain” sound like an insult. “Which, with all due respect, I doubt you possess. This is a salvage mission, and the location must remain a secret until you get there. To put it simply, you sit back, let my man do the job, get back safely, and collect the cash—as long as you keep your mouth firmly shut about any of this. I’ve been told that your ship is fast and well equipped, and that you are discreet. I’d hate to think that I’ve been misinformed.”

Matt took a long sip of his beer to stall for time. The beer had a distinct sour artificial aftertaste, but at least it was cold. “What kind of salvage?”

“An abandoned alien site. I’m afraid I can’t divulge further information at this point, other than it would require a jump to another sector.”

“Huh,” Matt grunted. The guy was definitely too well-spoken to be a scavenger; on the other hand, off-world archaeological salvage (if that was indeed Ari’s intent) was usually done for strictly academic purposes and required government permits. Any other form of salvage, whether human or alien, was considered theft and was absolutely illegal. That and some other guy had to fly his ship? There was no way in hell he’d agree to that. This Mr. Ari could either fuck off or pay him way more than he was offering. “Well, you make it sound very tempting and all, but still. A pilot has his pride, you know. No one takes my seat, twenty thousand Fed-creds or no.”

“Name your price,” Ari said tersely.

“One hundred thousand,” Matt said, testing the waters.

“Done,” Ari said with a finality that left Matt a little dizzy. He was sure Ari would balk at the asking price. He wondered belatedly whether he could have gotten away with being even bolder. “My pilot will meet you at Dock G5 in two hours. You’ll get twenty percent of your fee now, and the rest when the job is done.”

“Agreed,” Matt said. How did this guy know exactly where his ship was? Shit, he could hardly back down on the offer now. “I’ll send you the account number.”

“Now, Mr. Spears, I must stress again how delicate this assignment is.”

“Of course,” Matt said. Really, this was tedious. Every client thought they were the only one in the galaxy who had dirty secrets. He wouldn’t have been in this line of work for as long as he had if he couldn’t keep his mouth shut and his eyes averted.

“You might encounter…competition,” Ari said. “While this is unlikely to happen, there is a chance that other parties might try to intercept you.”

“What do you mean, ‘intercept’?” Matt asked suspiciously. “Just to make it clear—I’m a runner, not a mercenary. If it’s something dangerous—”

“The reason I’m not willing to be more specific is precisely because I don’t want any information to leak out and pose a threat to your mission,” Ari said, sounding a bit too vague for Matt’s comfort. “However, you should be on alert, and report any incidents to my agent.”

Now he wanted him to report to the guy? Matt was utterly and completely done with reporting to anybody for the rest of his life. He was more than capable of handling any situation, and he wasn’t about to play the chain-of-command game with his client’s representative. However, he kept it prudently to himself. You didn’t sass somebody who was willing to shell out all those credits.

“Got it,” he said dryly. “I’ll be on alert. Anything else?”

“You may discuss further details with my man, and he’ll be handling all future communications. Good luck, Captain.”

“My pleasure,” Matt said. He disconnected the call and sagged back into his chair, pushing away the beer. He had a very, very bad feeling.
Isabelle Adler

A voracious reader from the age of five, Isabelle Adler has always dreamed of one day putting her own stories into writing. She loves traveling, art, and science, and finds inspiration in all of these. Her favorite genres include sci-fi, fantasy, and historical adventure. She also firmly believes in the unlimited powers of imagination and caffeine.

Isabelle Adler's all-time favorite sci-fi books

As a lover and an avid reader of the sci-fi genre, I had a tough time choosing absolute favorites. I’ve selected those that had made the most impact and resonated with me both emotionally and intellectually.

The Goblin Reservation by Clifford D. Simak

En route to an interplanetary research mission, a scientist is abducted by a strange, shadowy race of aliens and taken to a previously uncharted planet, a storehouse of information that would be invaluable—even to an Earth so advanced that time travel allows goblins, dinosaurs, even Shakespeare to coexist.

This a fun, whimsical tale with a strong mystery element and humor, but don’t be fooled by its apparent silliness—there are some deep and strong ideas regarding friendship, acceptance, sacrifice, and standing up for what you believe in.

Dune by Frank Herbert

Set in the far future amidst a sprawling feudal interstellar empire where planetary dynasties are controlled by noble houses that owe an allegiance to the imperial House Corrino, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides (the heir apparent to Duke Leto Atreides and heir of House Atreides) as he and his family accept control of the desert planet Arrakis, the only source of the 'spice' melange, the most important and valuable substance in the cosmos. The story explores the complex, multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion as the forces of the empire confront each other for control of Arrakis.

This is one of the most popular sci-fi works in the world, and one of the most poignant. Its many layers are often deceptive, but by unpeeling them one by one, you can get a true glimpse of the human nature as it constantly struggles against itself.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

This is the beloved, classic story of a mentally disabled man whose experimental quest for intelligence mirrors that of Algernon, an extraordinary lab mouse. In poignant diary entries, Charlie tells how a brain operation increases his IQ and changes his life. As the experimental procedure takes effect, Charlie's intelligence expands until it surpasses that of the doctors who engineered his metamorphosis. The experiment seems to be a scientific breakthrough of paramount importance—until Algernon begins his sudden, unexpected deterioration. Will the same happen to Charlie?

While this is a tragic story of striving toward scientific advancement and its ultimate failure, it presents the reader with the different aspects of the human experience, dealing with the themes of mental impairment, intelligence, and compassion.

Solaris by Stanisław Lem

When Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface, he finds a painful, hitherto unconscious memory embodied in the living physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others examining the planet, Kelvin learns, are plagued with their own repressed and newly corporeal memories.

This work explores a theme common to sci-fi—contact with an alien entity. But what happens when the entity is so tremendously ‘alien’ that we, as humans, cannot comprehend its logic? Is there ultimately a limit to our understanding of the universe?

Tour Schedule

1/30 Love Bytes
1/30 Stories That Make You Smile
1/31 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
2/1 Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents
2/1 Prism Book Alliance
2/2 Happily Ever Chapter
2/2 Reviews by Tammy and Kim
2/3 We Three Queens


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