by Anne Avery

June 1998
ISBN: 0-505-52257-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Lovespell
Mass Market Paperback

Please be advised that in a couple of hundred years your clothing will conveniently open with the touch of a finger down the center seam! Or at least it seems that way in many futuristic romances - zippers never get stuck and buttons never snag in wayward fastenings. Calista York wears outfits from the 'touch-my-seam' school of fashion and that's real handy for Rhys Fairdane, who has a serious case of finger itch!!

However, it's also true that the extent of his attraction to Calista is uncomfortably revealed by many of his futuristic clothes (which Calista also knows she can open by a quick slide of her hand!). Calista and Rhys have a background together - five years before the story opens, they shared a magnificent but brief affair and the embers are clearly still simmering. Their joint appointment as traders to the mysterious planet Karta places them into teeth-grindingly close proximity and the sexual tension between them leaps to red alert!! It's almost too intense and the fact that neither act on their barely repressed urges for quite some time sends the reader into a tizzy of frustration as well, which is a shame, because there is actually a pretty good story going on behind all the gnashing of jaws, clenching of thigh muscles and cold showers.

Karta is the planet that produces saitha silk, the most desired fabric in the universe. This magical stuff can be made into clothing that not only enhances the appearance of the wearer but also improves their overall health and well-being! I guess it would be like having the Fountain of Youth woven into polar fleece! Needless to say, the profits involved in trading saitha silk around the inhabited Galaxy are immense, and both Rhys and Calista stand to make gazillions of whatever passes for cold hard cash! However, taking time away from their unfulfilled lust, it becomes obvious to them that something is not quite right on Karta, and Calista also realizes that there is more to Rhys than she previously realized - he has unsuspected depths that his tight pants haven't revealed!

If you set aside the white-hot burning lust that erupts from about the third page of this novel and continues on unabated for many chapters, this is a good book. Calista and Rhys are fundamentally good people - their histories have made them what they are today, although it is some time before we truly realize how far they have traveled (and it's not necessarily a distance counted in light years). The mystery of the Karta situation is well thought out and interestingly developed - the origin of the saitha silk is a lovely vignette of excellent science fiction writing. When Rhys and Calista finally do the deed (whew - pass me a cigarette), their emotions are immediately involved and the reader can easily share in their new relationship. Anne Avery makes us care about these two lovers, and the strength of her plot holds this story together and keeps it taut and tense through the exciting climax (pardon the pun) and resolution. While this may not be great science fiction, or great romance, it is a charming combination of both that makes for a pleasant afternoon's escape! Ahead, warp factor two, Mr. Chekov!

Reviewed in January 2002 by Celia.

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