Playing by the Rules by J. Hepburn

Playing by the Rules by J. Hepburn
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (133 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy, F/F
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Life aboard a luxury yacht, travelling deep inside safe space, isn’t supposed to be exciting, and it’s one of the main reasons Tori works on board as a beautician and cocktail waitress. Her growing friendship with Annick, another beautician, is a pleasant bonus.

Then the ship is attacked by pirates, the very last thing she needs, but it soon becomes apparent that if they stand any chance of surviving she will have to dredge up the past she’s tried so hard to leave behind.

But even Tori’s unique history can’t help her sort out what to do when she’s caught between the friend she’s falling in love with and the pirate captain she’s seducing…

How would you survive a hostile takeover of your home and workplace?

This story had incredibly strong pacing. The idea of having a ship hijacked by strangers whose motives are unclear was spellbinding, especially since the audience is tossed into one of the tensest moments of the book almost immediately. There were no dull moments here. Nearly every single scene had me perched on the edge of my seat as I waited to find out what would happen next.

I would have liked to see more character development. It was hard to understand why Tori made certain decisions because I knew so little about how her mind worked. She also didn’t seem to change as a result of everything that happened to her during the course of the plot. Had the author spent more time explaining why this character responded to those events the way she did, it would have earned this tale a higher rating.

One of the most interesting things I learned about Tori’s current job was how it prepared her and the other employees for certain things that could go wrong while their yacht is travelling through space. It vaguely reminded me of the mandatory safety drills that contemporary cruise ships put their employees and passengers through before setting sail. Including such information about how Tori was trained was a smart decision that made her work life seem more three-dimensional than it otherwise might have been.

Playing by the Rules is a good choice for fans of science fiction and romance alike.

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