Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach

A review of the romantic science fiction novel Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach.

There was an article a couple of years ago promoting new female writers in science-fiction. Naturally, I hopped on board and took note of who they are and what they’ve written. Rachel Bach’s book, Fortune’s Pawn, was the one that stuck with me most. So when I finally came across it in Waterstones, I bought it.

It has everything I love in a space opera, from space ships, mystery, enemy aliens, badass mercenaries and a strong female protagonist. The plot had my attention straight away and the writing was stellar.

Fortune’s Pawn follows the story of Devi Morris, a mercenary attempting to become an elite member of the Paradox King’s personal guard. In order to do so, she needs more experience. To hurry things along she takes up a year-long mission on the Glorious Fool, a cargo ship with a reputation for high turnout. For this high-stakes career-enhancing move, Devi takes her trust battle armour (a staple in space opera), and her sharp wit, stubborn ego and wicked daredevil attitude.

She’s fun, I’ll give her that.

Aboard the Glorious Fool, Devi meets the other crew mates and learns that the ship isn’t what it seems. There are reasons so many people wind up dead after living on the ship, and why one year is worth five years’ experience anywhere else.

There are epic fights with savage aliens, mysteries abound when carrying precious cargo. Not to mention the rivalry between two pig-headed mercenaries, which added quite nicely to the depth of the ship, the characters between action, and helped run things along quite smoothly.

There are parts of this book I couldn’t put down, and other parts that had me laughing. Yet, there is a slight truth that I have omitted from the start of this review: I haven’t finished reading it.

It’s a strange experience to be fully engaged in a story and then read something that completely dampens the passion. I would like to state, however, that it is a purely subjective reason, and I even believe that one day I might actually finish this book. The one gripe I had about the book, despite initially starting out at something trivial, was its downfall.

I disliked the romance.

Mild spoilers ahead!

It felt very much like an insta-love (or insta-lust) situation, with Devi pining for an impeccable man with zero availability going on. The moment Rupert floated into a scene; it was riddled with descriptions of his perfections and saturated with the chemistry I was finding hard to follow. There was nothing amazing about this man other than how brooding he was.

Rupert is mysterious, and that’s okay, until he’s also the love interest. Then he becomes a walking-talking troupe. Instantly he is the one man that commitment-phobe Devi Morris wants more than anyone else, even if it is just for some simple sex. There are the scenes where she hates him because he’s so cold, but as a reader I already know they’re going to get together and it’s just painful.

Then they do have sex. Then I stopped reading.

I just didn’t care anymore. I wanted to, and I really liked reading everything else that was happening in the book, it’s just that one thing annoys me as a reader. Maybe if it hadn’t been such instant sexual tension on Devi’s part, I might’ve enjoyed a slowly blossoming relationship, but alas, that wasn’t the case.

The book is popular, and one of Rachel Bach’s highest selling books, and yet it wasn’t for me. I might go back at a different stage in my life because I really, really did enjoy everything else.

So, in short, if you like action, space and romance, this might be the book for you, even if it wasn’t the one for me.

Sometimes she writes. Sometimes she doesn’t. Either way, she’s not doing what she’s supposed to be doing.

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