Author: A.L. Bates
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing
Published: 29th January 2016
Genre: Science Fiction, Gay Romance, Gay SciFi
Fleeing from a troubled past that left him feeling tarnished and used, Sean finds work as a medic aboard the deep sea mining ship Ariel, on a distant planet.
Under the leader ship of the infuriating, yet charismatic, Captain Joel Riley, Sean settles into his simple, but dangerous, new life. It’s a life he soon comes to love; albeit one in which he conceals his sexuality and avoids intimacy.
But Sean’s new world is turned on its head when an old face threatens to expose him for the man he used to be.
With Joel’s help, will Sean learn to come to terms with his past and become a man he can be proud of?
There’s just something about ship board romances, isn’t there? In this case Ariel, the ship, is a deep sea mining vessel, a submersible that descends to incredible depths, crewed by a collection of odd characters who watch each other’s backs as they earn their insanely dangerous livelihood. Ariel isn’t the grandest of ships, nor the newest, nor the most technologically advanced. The same might be said for the crew. Every single one of them is flawed to some extent. All have 'pasts' that have left them with problems in the present. But Ariel is home and the crew are 'family' if a somewhat dysfunctional one. A key member is Sean, still not too sure of his place, but valuable as the only thoroughly trained medic aboard. Much of the action of the story is seen through Sean's eyes, as he tries to keep various lids on the seething pots of his past. How would the crew react if they knew that he's gay? How would the stern captain treat him if he knew that Sean had been a criminal and was still on the 'wanted list' for crimes against powerful people? On a more personal note, how would the captain react to the news that Sean is harbouring a very powerful crush on him?
All these things prey on Sean's mind as they drift through the deeps, but he does his job to the best of his ability, keeps his secret's unwillingly, scared of the repercussions, and achieves a measure of happiness. Then the ship answers a distress signal and Sean's comfortable if lonely world is turned on end. A face from the past threatens him with exposure, a man who can not only let the cat out of the bag about Sean’s shameful past but is intent upon leading him astray in the present.
Meanwhile the captain has problems of his own, and not just the safety of the ship and crew. He’s also realising that the warm feeling he holds for Sean isn’t entirely appropriate for a subordinate and that he feels that way about another man is a BIG shock.
Hazards abound, natural and man-made and everyone has to show their mettle before the story ends.
I did enjoy this, very much. There was an intimacy about the setting, bourn of the claustrophobic setting and the interactions between all the characters, that reminded me a little of the late lamented Firefly. The variety of characters and their skills afforded both protagonists with people in whom they could confide and/or be mocked by. The variety of hazards allowed almost everyone to be heroes at some point and the resolution was satisfying while allowing some leeway should the author decide to add more to the story of the Ariel. I would love to know more about the planet and the social structure of this universe. Not that I think this book is lacking in world building, but the very restricted set didn’t lend itself to much exploration. Kudos to the author for not giving into the temptation to info dump. We had enough information to be going on with.
So, to summarise, a good solid fun read with some sweetly drawn characters.
Don’t miss the Valentine’s Day Sale (February 11-17) 50% off on WIP’s website and 40% off on ARe!
Connect with the Author
A.L. BATES has a keen interest in Sci-fi and adventure novels and enjoys writing stories with strong characters in imaginative backgrounds. Although an avid writer, Deep is the first published novella by A.L. Bates.
A.L. Bates can be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authoralbates