Anna M. reviews Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau

Deep Deception is the third book in Cathy Pegau’s science fiction/romance series set on the chilly mining colony of Nevarro, after Rulebreaker and Caught in Amber. The latter features a m/f couple, and the former, which I reviewed here at the Lesbrary, was one of my favorite books of 2011. Deep Deception is scheduled for release at the end of this month, and it may be my favorite of the series so far. I stayed up very late to finish it, at any rate!

Readers of Caught in Amber will recognize the mysterious Genevieve Caine as the right-hand woman of the menacing drug dealer who was the target of Nathan Sterling and Sasha James’s operation. Since that time, Genevieve has moved on and is working hard to avoid notice by the sinister Reyes corporation until she can leave Nevarro far behind. Unable to reach Sterling, she targets his colleague Natalia Hallowell as a likely candidate to help her uncover whatever wrongdoing the Reyes family is hiding in a distant mining town. Unfortunately, their introduction sows both the seeds of deep attraction and mistrust, as Genevieve seduces and then sedates Natalia in order to state her case.

Despite being tricked by Genevieve during their initial encounter, Natalia is no fool. She’s an experienced agent with the Colonial Mining Authority, and accustomed to operating in deep cover. She’s also on probation and not unwilling to investigate Genevieve’s claims, especially if it will occupy her mind. As the women travel together to probe the mystery in the mines, they struggle to trust each other without giving too many of their closely guarded secrets away–or their hearts. For Natalia, returning to the mines means bringing up memories from her painful past. For Genevieve, the stakes are higher than she will ever willingly confess, even to someone she is falling for.

I really enjoy the way Pegau has created the atmosphere of Nevarro throughout the series, especially the mining details that she provides in this third installment. The chemistry between Genevieve and Natalia is palpable, and I appreciated that their relationship had some time and reason to mature. The return of characters from Caught in Amber was also a nice touch, giving even more continuity to this romance series that so far has included both straight and lesbian couples. Why on earth can’t more series do that?

Anna reviews Rulebreaker by Cathy Pegau

Rulebreaker by Cathy Pegau, is set on a mining colony on a planet somewhere far away from Earth and some time after the year 2100. Liv Braxton is a small-time criminal who is convinced by her ex-husband, Tonio, to perpetrate one last con. This job will give her the money she needs to leave the business once and for all and retire to a vacation planet, far away from the threat of dying in the prison mines. Liv and Tonio have been hired by a pair of rather sinister brothers who intend to blackmail the Exeter mining company over their use of an unpublicized air filtration system for miners. In order to do so, they need someone on the inside, but as head of Research & Development R.J. “Zia” Talbot’s assistant, Liv finds herself becoming more attached to her employer than Felon’s Rule Number One: Don’t Get Emotionally Involved would seem to allow. Complications, including the arrival of Liv’s con artist mother on the scene and the continuous threat of exposure by either the authorities or the Exeter company, keep cropping up. Liv has been instructed to do whatever it takes to earn her mark’s trust and get the hard evidence the gang needs, but what happens when she becomes too willing to get close to Zia?

Despite the science fiction setting, the novel is more concerned with human elements, such as the interplay between Liv and Tonio, Liv and her mother, and–of course–Liv and Zia. The plot was believable, the setting was well-conceived and consistent, and there weren’t any threads left untied at the conclusion. Pegau showed herself willing to make difficult authorial decisions in order to lend weight to her narrative, and both Liv and Zia were portrayed as sympathetic, if flawed, people. My main quibble was the author’s resistance to using the Oxford comma, which could have made a sentence like “The guard, an elderly couple, Calvin and I lay on our bellies, hands on the backs of our heads and cheeks to the rough wood” more straightforward. . . but that is my own pet peeve, and I can’t really hold it against the book. I’ll just hold it against the book’s editor.

I knew I liked Rulebreaker when I kept thinking of other books and fanfiction to compare it to. Despite my strong dislike for the current trend of employer-employee romances in Harlequin romances, I do have a few I like in terms of lesbian fiction. For another good “boss romance,” try Too Close to Touch by Georgia Beers. I also highly recommend Telanu’s Andy/Miranda fanfiction from the world of The Devil Wears Prada, which can be found at her site, The Rag and Bone Shop. For a great lesbian “con” book, see Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. For another story of corporate greed and corruption and spreadsheets + romance, try Karin Kallmaker’s Car Pool.