Hearts Akilter by Catherine E. McLean

Hearts Akilter by Catherine E. McLean
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (91 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Love, vengeance, attempted murder, and a bomb . . . No reason to panic.

When a medical robot insists he’s having a heart attack, Marlee Evans, a pragmatic maintenance technician, has every reason to panic. There’s a bomb inside him. Since Marlee can’t risk the bomber discovering she’s found the device, her only option is to kidnap Deacon Black, an unflappable bomb expert, and secretly convince him to disarm it.

Things go slightly awry when Deacon sets a trap for someone who is trying to kill him, and inadvertently, captures Marlee instead. Instantly intrigued by her refreshingly forthright and gutsy attitude, he’s smitten. Unfortunately for Deacon, Marlee recently hardened her heart and swore off men, especially handsome ones with boy-next-door grins. But as Marlee and Deacon attempt to identify and prevent the bomber from detonating the device, they discover that love may be the most explosive force of all.

Bombs are dangerous everywhere, but they’re even more deadly on a space station. Will Marlee and Deacon Black be able to diffuse this one before its too late?

Henry was a hilarious little robot. I especially liked hearing him talk about what he thought was happening when he first reported his robotic heart attack to Marlee. It was both a fun conversation and a nice glimpse of things to come. The scenes that included him in any way were by far the best ones in the story. Henry really was the heart and soul of this tale.

The main human characters often made illogical decisions that I didn’t understand at all. I would have like to see more attention paid to why they made these choices and whether my impressions of what kind of people they were based on their reactions to these scenes were actually what the author was intending to show the audience. It was never quiet clear to me if my assumptions about these characters were accurate based on the clues I found in how they did and didn’t handle certain situations.

The dialogue was well done. This isn’t the kind of situation that lends itself to a great deal of talking, so I was glad to see the characters keep their conversations short and to the point. They said exactly what they needed to say and then moved on to trying to solve the problem at hand. This was a smart way to write it!

I’d recommend Hearts Akilter to anyone who likes humorous science fiction.

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