Sci-fi romance books are a guilty pleasure of mine. And with the holidays approaching, that means downtime and airplane rides — so lots of time to catch up on guilty pleasure fiction. I’m always a sucker for romance in my stories anyway (and you know how I feel about BioWare romances), so having some romantic moments and steamy scenes in a science fiction book just makes the story so much more entertaining for me.
Having read quite a few of these books, I have a few I’d recommend for the holidays. They’re all fun, easy reads for your time off or travel. Some are better for their sci-fi worldbuilding — others for their smut factor. I’ll rate both so you can figure out which you’d prefer. =)
5. Naked in Death
Lately I’ve been a little obsessed with this series. Written by Nora Roberts under the pseudonym J.D. Robb, this is a series of crime novels set in the near future (like the 2050’s). The protagonist is Eve Dallas — one of those tough women who loves being a cop and tends to work herself half to death during every case.
Her love interest is billionaire financier Roarke, who’s also Irish. (Insert your favorite Irish actor here.) A lot of readers go crazy for how perfect a guy Roarke is, but that’s exactly why he drives me a little nuts. He has several homes, he’s intelligent, he’s charming, and he takes care of Eve when she’s too obsessed with a case to take care of herself. I get the appeal. (He even has a Wikipedia page.) But I prefer characters with more flaws.
The good news is that Eve is flawed. She’s a fascinating character to follow, and getting to know this slightly futuristic world during crime investigations is a lot of fun.
This novel by Eve Silver is so much fun. If you like post-apocalyptic science fiction, this is your book. The main character Raina Bowen is like an ice road trucker in a world that’s experiencing a new ice age, and she’s on the run from a very bad guy. The drama is a little over-the-top — and I don’t like that it sometimes preys on Eve being a woman — but the love interest is one of my favorites in romance. His name is Wizard (yes, ridiculous), and he is extremely handsome but has very poor social skills. He takes everything too literally, which can be hilarious. I kept imagining him as a really hot version of Spock.
Some complain that Driven is derivative, because it feels like a weird Mad Max/Terminator/Ice Road Truckers thing — but that’s exactly why I love it. Since I’ve never read anything like that in sci-fi or romance, it feels refreshing to me.
The smut factor here is also off the charts. I’d say it’s the hottest on this list if that’s what you’re going for. =)
3. In the Black
This book by Sheryl Nantus is one of the latest sci-fi romance books I’ve read, as it was a Vaginal Fantasy book club pick this year. The main character Sam is the captain of a Mercy ship — a spaceship that travels to far-flung mining communities to service the locals with sexual talents. I love that this ship doesn’t just have women, it also includes two men — and they all have additional talents beyond physical pleasure, ranging from chess to accounting to boxing. In this way, I imagined them more like geishas, or the companions in Firefly.
When one of the women on the ship is murdered, an investigator named Daniel LeClair comes aboard to solve the case. He and Sam have instant, intense chemistry. The fun part here is the build-up, as there aren’t a ton of steamy love scenes but a lot of flirtation — one involving them making coffee in zero-g. (Apparently that can be really hot.)
Another thing I enjoy about this book is the way the author describes gravity as a commodity. If you want it on the ship, you have to pay extra for it, so most of the time, the inhabitants get by without it. It’s interesting to see the crime scene in zero-g, for instance, and to imagine everyday activities like showering and sex without gravity.
Since the world-building is pretty limited to the Mercy ships and the love scenes are scarce, I’d recommend this book most for being a quick, entertaining mystery novel.
2. Fortune’s Pawn
This book by Rachel Bach is so good, I went on to read the rest of the series.
My favorite thing about the book is main character, Devi Morris, a fighter whose dream is to be part of the king’s personal guard. She joins a mercenary ship to prove her mettle. She’s religious (about her king). She loves her home, Paradox. She’s crazy about her armor, to the point of naming her weapons and being devastated when anything happens to her suit. And she prefers to remain unattached — until she experiences the chemistry she has with the spaceship’s mysterious cook.
There’s a big mystery that develops toward the end of the book, and while Fortune’s Pawn scratches the surface of it, the rest of the series really digs deeper if your interest is piqued.
I’d recommend this book mostly for the amazing lead character and original world-building. I reviewed the book here if you want to learn a little more.
This is absolutely my favorite science fiction romance series. I’ve read the whole thing, and some of the books I’ve read twice. The main character is a woman named Sirantha Jax, famous for being one of the best jumpers out there. (Jumpers are able to jack into “grimspace,” which is kind of like hyperspace, so the pilot of a spaceship can make an FTL jump.)
The world-building is excellent, as Sirantha busts out of prison and joins a crew on the run from the government, planet-hopping as she falls in love with the ship’s pilot. Initially, I wasn’t crazy about the fact that the pilot, March, is able to read minds — how is that sci-fi? — but re-reading the novels, I realize it works well for Sirantha and March. They both have a lot of issues, and their connection is pretty amazing. The best thing is that their relationship is not “innocent.” Sirantha is in her 30’s, and she’s been both married and madly in love before; in fact, she’s getting over the death of her lover at the beginning of this book. Meanwhile, March has a lot of trauma in his past, and he’s not your typical handsome, perfect guy — he’s gruff, with literal scars. The love scenes aren’t the hottest I’ve read, but their romance over the series is my favorite in the genre.
Overall, I’d say this book by Ann Aguirre is a great balance between science fiction and romance. Both are excellent. Though the book came first, it reminds me of Mass Effect — so bonus points there. And the series gets better as it goes on, so if you like this one, I recommend just sinking into the whole thing. =)