"An Exciting Beginning to a New SF Romance series"

Tessa Camen is a woman of skill, and the Secret Service Special Agent in charge protecting the President of the United States. During a public address Tessa recognizes a potential threat and throws herself bodily upon her leader. As shooting and the resultant pandemonium ensues, Tessa removes the President from the scene. Her maneuvers are to no avail, because as their car leaves the scene it becomes clear that they have been betrayed by one of their own. Tessa's last thought as she throws herself in front of the bullet meant the President is that she's failed in her duty.

Tessa awakens to find herself naked in the arms of a hunk. She's pretty sure she's died and gone to heaven but her first thought is for the life of her president. Kahn informs her that her quick action had saved the president in that instance, but that in fact she has been dead more than 300 years. He tells her that seconds before the assassins bullet would have killed her, she had been transported to the future and that the current government of Earth had chosen her as their best candidate to perform a challenge that would win aid for their now polluted planet. Success would also win full membership in the Federation for his own world which had been mostly destroyed by nuclear warfare. That was to be his reward for training her for "The Challenge". All he had to do was to bring out her psi ability. Tessa is skeptical of the whole scenario and speculates that this could be a terrorist brainwashing tactic. Time travel wasn't possible and she certainly didn't have any psi ability.

Kahn is disgruntled at having to train a woman to perform the challenge. Women on his planet were protected and respected. Bring out a person's psi required them to be highly frustrated, and he would have to use different methods on Tessa than he would on a male contestant. The method went was totally counter to his own beliefs. Rather than using his considerable combat skills he would have to frustrate her sexually but, he knew that the needs of his world must come before his personal integrity.

However distasteful the training would be, Tessa fit all the criteria. She was selfless, a virgin, and had no living relatives, something which had complicated previous challenges. But Khan hadn't taken into account that Tessa was not a docile or obedient Rystani woman. She was a warrior. Rather than frustrate her and bring out her psi, his methods make her quite brazen. It isn't long before Kahn realizes that he's met his match and that in order for her to succeed in the Challenge he's going to have to adapt as much as she does. A change of tactics is definitely in order.

Of course no good science fiction romance is complete without and evil enemy to make the quest more challenging. Jypeg is evil alien with a vendetta against Khan. He had killed Khan's wife in a raid on Rystan and bore the scars of Khan's fury. The scars were a subject of mirth on Jypeg's planet and he will do anything to destroy Khan for the insult, even if it means breaking the laws of the Federation by interfering with the Challenge.

The cast is rounded out with Dora, a sentient computer, with an affinity for Tessa, and sex on the brain. She stirs the pot by providing the information Tessa needs to deal with her circumstances, often to Kahn's complete aggravation.

As the two cultures collide, Tessa and Khan will find much to admire and respect in each other's customs. The greatest challenge after all is of the heart. When you throw an alpha male and an alpha female together there are bound to be fireworks, and that's what makes this story so much fun to read. Sparks fly as the two go from being combatants to becoming soul mates. The sexual tension is palpable, but the best part of all is the love and respect that Tessa inspires in Kahn and his people simply by being herself. She is a being unlike anything they've ever encountered but her courage and heart will be a lesson for them all. The story ends with a preview of the sequel, "The Dare," and I suspect that Dora may just get a chance to try her feminine wiles out on a real man after all. The result is bound to be hilarious. I can't wait.

Copyright 2006

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted October 30, 2006



...a hunk named Kahn, who told Secret Service agent Tessa Camen an outlandish story about traveling through time, saving the world, and a Challenge only she can accept. Kahn offers her proof she can't refute: Tessa has been brought forward through time to save Earth by winning an intergalactic challenge.

Kahn only has a few weeks to train Tessa to use the psi-abilities he insists she has. He is confident in the success of a time-honored method that uses sexual frustration to bring out her powers, but Tessa is dubious. She's a martial arts expert and can fight her way through anything, but she's never had much luck with emotions.

Luckily for Earth, Kahn can be very convincing...

Read an Excerpt


The Challenge
(Quest: Book 1)
by Susan Kearney

Tor Books
February 1, 2005
Available: February 1, 2005
ISBN #0765348918
EAN #9780765348913
420 pages
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Other Books by
Susan Kearney

Beyond Magic
Dancing with Fire
Solar Heat
Kiss Me Deadly
Island Heat
The Quest
Midnight Magic
The Ultimatum
Beyond the Edge
The Dare
On The Edge
The Hope Chest
Hijacked Honeymoon
Essence of Midnight
A Burning Obsession
Out for Justice
Five Times Trouble
Under Wraps
Bordering on Obsession
Saving the Girl Next Door
Defending The Heiress
Daddy To The Rescue
Royal Pursuit
Royal Ransom
Royal Target
Double The Thrill
The Battle of Betazed
Lovers In Hiding
Hidden Hearts
The Hidden Years

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