Spaceport: Hidden Phase by Lexxie Couper

Spaceport: Hidden Phase by Lexxie Couper
Publisher: Changeling Press
Length: Short (95 pgs)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Type: Mild BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, Menage, Multiple Partners
Rating: 4 cherries
Review by Lotus

Don’t piss off Sabian Talano if you want to stay in one piece.

Talano’s the head bouncer at the spaceport’s most popular bar, Haze, and everything about him is shrouded in absolute mystery. No one knows who Sabian Talano is, and that’s exactly the way he wants it to stay.

So who is the woman in skin-tight red leather and why is she on ’Port Adana asking questions about the secretive head bouncer? And why do her eyes burn with hunger when she finally finds him?

Sabian Talano’s past is about to catch up with him. And it couldn’t be more dangerous. Or erotic.

Even the scum of the universe can fall in love… Well, given enough sex and hardship and life-altering events to make the rest of us curl into the fetal position. Life on Spaceport Adana is difficult to begin with, but peace is near impossible when you’re a government-trained assassin trying to hide from your past. Lexxie Couper is one of Changeling’s most well-known and talented authors, and in her skilled hands the story of Sabian and Falynn is told with sympathy and gritty realism. Believe me when I say that this is no easy task: these are not good or likeable people, and their most sterling quality seems to be that they do everything well, from sex to killing. Interestingly, the most human character in Hidden Phase is an android, but we won’t talk about him because his fate is beyond sad.

That’s not to say that Sabian and Falynn are not worth our attention. Sabian is tough, and more than a little scary, but there is a goodness in him that has nothing to do with sentimentality. He has not led a good life, but this is mostly because the world has been hard on him since birth, and it’s his understanding of someone in a similar situation that turns him around. This doesn’t change who he is at the core, but expands his experience and shifts his priorities, and gives the reader room to fall a bit in love with him. Falynn might even be a shade darker than Sabian as a character. Her life is tough to begin with as well, but she chooses even more hardship, and a path of blood and pain and death. These two will probably never be truly happy, but they find something in each other that gives them hope and makes them feel alive again. That might not be terribly comforting, but there is a certain romance to it.

Couper’s goal with Hidden Phase seems to be to tell a story that contrasts violence with love, and her success is present on every page. She has an immediate, visceral style that works well with her heroes, and with the tone of the Spaceport series in general. She even goes so far as to juxtapose a sex scene with an incredibly tense “hunting” scene, and it is masterfully done. My only complaint would be Forty-Two’s subplot, but you can judge for yourself whether or not that was called for. Hidden Phase is dark, sexy, unnerving, and even disturbing, but love triumphs and your reward for seeing things through is one of the most darkly triumphant endings I’ve ever read. This story is pretty much the definition of modern space opera, and Couper is a credit to that genre.

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