Interstellar adventures! Daring escapes! Star-crossed lovers! If those sound like the ingredients of a great story to you, then you’ll want to catch Jenna Bennett’s latest romantic thriller, FORTUNE’S HERO.
The story follows Quinn Conlan, a galactic smuggler with a fast ship and a great crew who gets caught on the wrong side of an interplanetary conflict. But, despite the title, Quinn isn’t exactly a hero – At least he doesn’t see himself that way, according to the author.
“He’s just a guy doing what he feels he has to,” says Bennett, “because it seems the right thing to do and because, if he doesn’t, it won’t get done. He’s a good guy with a lot of good qualities, his habit of falling in love with the wrong woman notwithstanding.”
Quinn is ferrying a shipload of weapons to the insurgents on a planet called Marica when he and his crew are captured and sent to prison. Quinn’s escape puts him in the wilderness of a savage moon, trying to figure out how to get back into the prison to free his crew. It’s a very human story, set against a finely-drawn future background that isn’t TOO alien. While some authors like the idea that new people and cultures grow independently out in space, in Bennett’s universe Terrans settled other planets.
“More than a thousand years ago, people from Earth – Old Earth in the book – conquered space, to the degree that space let herself be conquered. They settled a half dozen worlds or so and are either quietly going about their own business or meddling in other people’s.”
The villains of this book, the Rhenians, have laid siege to Marica, because of Marica’s location. The action takes place on the moon Marica-3 which is uninhabited apart from poisonous wildlife and the prison colony. A hundred thousand prisoners kept in line by ten thousand guards.
When Quinn escapes he takes a hostage, Elsa Brandeis, with him. Stuck on a small, inhospitable moon he has to keep both of them safe from deadly animals and even plants while hiding from prison guard search parties. In the midst of all this, Elsa professes love for him. This is just one way the book shows that humans are humans. Of course there are bigger, very human issues.
“There’s the quest for land – in this case in the form of planets, not countries – the quest for power, for wealth, for dominance, for love… all the usual stuff, and for all the usual reasons,” Bennett says. “More specifically, one people has laid siege to another people’s planetary system because of that planetary system’s location – on the far end of the solar system – to protect themselves against invasion from beyond.”
The versatile Ms. Bennett writes mysteries and a variety of romance (contemporary, futuristic, paranormal, suspense) for different publishers. It seems easy for her to move from genre to genre and tell a great story, but she admits that moving from cozy mystery to speculative fiction is a bit of a jump.
“Most of it comes down to setting and world-building,” Bennett says. “Mysteries, or at least the mysteries I’ve written, are pretty steeped in real life and real places. They’re about normal people doing everyday things in a normal world, until a dead body falls into the middle of it and screws everything up. FORTUNE’S HERO is about as far from normal and everyday as you can get, although I guess in a way, they’re both about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances; it’s just that the circumstances is speculative fiction are so extraordinary there’s no comparison, really.”
But in all of Bennett’s writing, character development is always at the forefront. Readers of Sherrilyn Kenyon and fans who have been waiting for Han Solo’s swashbuckling successor will want to pick up this space spanning story now and get in on the beginning a cool new storyline. FORTUNE’S HERO is the start of the next great romantic space-adventure series.
New York Times bestselling author Jennie Bentley/Jenna Bennett writes the Do It Yourself home renovation mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime and the Cutthroat Business mysteries for her own gratification. For Entangled Publishing, she writes a variety of romance, from contemporary to futuristic, and from paranormal to romantic suspense.
For more information about her doings and undoings, please visit her website.