I’m very pleased to welcome Laurel Richards to my blog today, especially because I get to congratulate her on her new Samhain Publishing release, A Stellar Affair!
Thank you for having me on your blog, Rosanna. I write a range of fiction, all with some degree of romance mixed in, but I have a special love for sci-fi romance. A Stellar Affair is my new SFR novel from Samhain.
I’m a firm believer that most people across planet Earth basically want the same things. Those things include safety, love, family, friends, the ability to support ourselves and our loved ones, and having our hard work rewarded. To watch the media or listen to the politicians, though, you’d think none of us have anything in common. The news would have us believe that people on different sides of an issue are enemies who can’t possibly get along.
This dichotomy was a large part of the inspiration behind A Stellar Affair. All Ardra really wants is to own her own home and find someone to love. Just when she thinks her dreams have come true, however, her life is ripped from her, and she finds herself plunged into the middle of a war she wants no part of. That’s where she meets Jack—a good guy determined to make a difference in the universe. He started out using his ability to read and manipulate people’s thoughts to heal people and act as a therapist. When his people asked him to use his psychic talents to help their side of the war, though, he answered their call.
Everything changes when Jack meets Ardra. With her, he doesn’t see an enemy. He sees a person. The more he gets to know her, the more he falls for her, and Ardra slowly loses her heart to him too. The two find love in the midst of war. Can they find a way to fight for their dreams?
A Stellar Affair explores the mind and heart and how one can strengthen the other. I tried to keep this novel a lighter read while exploring what really are some very dark topics. I hope readers will enjoy the characters and the universe I’ve created for them.
Sometimes the heart leads and the mind must follow.
Ardra has no idea why she’s been abducted and thrown into a Roimiran interrogation room. She is simply a Tetch botanist on her way to a distant planet, not an enemy spy. She’s scared of the piercing eyes of the mind-reading precept assigned to uncover whatever secrets her mind might be holding. But even more worrying is the strange soul-deep connection between her and her captor.
Jackson Deimos excels at slipping in and out of someone’s memories to retrieve military intelligence deliberately hidden away—even from an unwitting carrier. But Ardra’s brain is a labyrinth of defenses he’s never encountered before. Plus, her beauty shouldn’t be this much of a distraction.
As their battle of wits and wills wears on, their emotions are the first to betray them. But if Jack can’t break through Ardra’s barriers, his superiors will turn her over to someone who will—by force. Leaving Jack having to choose between doing his duty or following his heart.
Ardra stared at his open palm. This was a precept? The guy looked like an ordinary man, not a monster or mutant. In fact, he was handsome and friendly looking. He couldn’t have been older than his early thirties. His hair was a fine light brown, and he had striking hazel eyes, which were now fixed on her. Under different circumstances, she might have attributed her fluttering pulse to something other than nerves. When she shook his hand, his fingers felt warm and soft and made her shiver.
“Rosemary Warner.” She offered the false name again.
After they had been captured, she and the other passengers had been questioned and pressured into giving information. Tarrin had recited his name, rank, and serial number, but she wasn’t a soldier. Figuring the less the Roimirans and their precept knew, the better, she had done some fast thinking and blurted out the only other name she could think of—that of her brief traveling companion back on the space station. Now that she was here, she was very glad she had done so.
Jack studied her for a moment before he motioned toward one of the tall, round chairs at the island counter. “Please sit down.”
She settled into the seat and looked around. Behind her, there was a couch, a cocktail table and some overstuffed chairs in the living room, and a covered patio opened off the back of the house. She could see a bit of yard and wild fields rolling away toward a small forest. The kitchen was open, and she had the impression that a bedroom sprouted off somewhere down the hallway to her left.
“I’m making some iced tea,” Jack said. “Would you like some?”
He turned his back on her to get something out of the cabinet and then returned with two glasses. Although she hadn’t answered, he tilted the pitcher and set a full drink in front of her. So far, she had refused everything her captors had tried to offer her, so she hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since the previous morning. She was thirsty, but she stared suspiciously at the glass. Wasn’t there some rule about not accepting the first thing the enemy offered you? She didn’t know, but she decided to play it safe.
“I hope you like tea,” he said. “Some people think it’s too mundane now that they’ve invented all those new fusion concoctions, but I like to keep things simple. How about you?”
“Sure.” She played along, though she wondered what kind of interrogation this was.
Jack sat across from her. “The temperature seemed right for it. If it needs more sugar, let me know, although I tend to make it sweet.”
He was acting sweetly too. Was that the plan? Was he going to be nice to her until she let down her guard, or was he some kind of strange Roimiran welcoming party? She felt off-balance.
“Can you believe this wonderful weather we’re having?” he asked. “You can really feel that summer is around the corner. I like the warmer months, don’t you, Rosemary?”
Ardra nodded absently, but she was distracted by a familiar tinkling noise on the patio.
Jack followed her gaze. “Those are my wind chimes. Do you like them?”
“Yes,” she said. “My mother’s house used to be filled with the sound of them.”
“That’s interesting. Where was that?” He asked the question casually, but she wasn’t fooled.
She frowned, but the suspicious look she gave him didn’t seem to bother him. Instead, his expression turned sympathetic.
“You look tired,” he told her. “I hope you didn’t have a bad night.”
Ardra rubbed her eyes and stifled a yawn. After she and the other passengers of the Oberon had been taken aboard the Roimiran ship, they had been transported down to this planet and separated. She assumed the guards had thrown Tarrin and Slade into a holding room too, but she had no way to be sure. Then last night, the guard who had escorted her here had told her she would be taken to the precept for interrogation in the morning. Although she had nothing to hide, that announcement hadn’t helped her get to sleep. It had been a long night.
Jack took a big sip of his iced tea, and she gulped in envy as she watched. The next thing she knew, she was lifting her own glass and allowing the cool liquid to flow into her mouth. He smiled at her.
Maybe the tea would perk her up. She had to fight the dozing sensation that came over her.
“Are you really a precept?” she asked, still thrown off by how normal Jack seemed.
He looked a little surprised by the question. “Yes, I am. Not what you expected, huh?”
She shook her head. God, why was she so lethargic all of a sudden?
“I know,” he said. “Precepts are getting a reputation as the bogeymen of the galaxy, aren’t we? I promise you I’m not that bad.”
“And you work here?” she asked.
He laughed, and the sound was as pleasant as the tinkling of the wind chimes. “I’m a homebody. I live here, and I work out of the house. It’s convenient.”
“And where is here? What planet is this?”
She didn’t think he would answer, but he must have figured there was no harm in sharing.
“You’re on Ryso,” he told her. “It’s one of our better kept secrets, a temperate planet not far outside of Tetch space.”
She took another sip of her drink. Her hand shook so badly she nearly spilled. For some reason, it had become difficult to concentrate, but the more she fought it, the more her adrenaline surged. She felt like something was wrong, but she couldn’t put her finger on it.
Manic Readers: http://www.manicreaders.com/laurelrichards/
Samhain Publishing: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5513/a-stellar-affair
All Romance eBooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-astellaraffair-1802780-343.html