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REVIEW

"A thrilling and addictive romantic SF adventure"

Sirantha Jax carries the rare J-gene which allows her to be a Jumper, able to navigate spaceships through Grimspace, a galactic by-pass which significantly reduces travel time between two points in space. Having brought about the collapse of her former employer, the Farwan Corporation, Jax is between jobs. She's also broke due to premature reports of her untimely demise. To top it off she's feeling increasingly fragile.

Grimspace is an addiction for the Jumper, but each jump takes a physical toll. For most it affects the brain, ending in total burnout, but in Jax's case her body is breaking down rapidly. She needs to see the Doc, and find out what's wrong with her, so when the Conglomerate offers her a position as an ambassador and charges her with bringing Ithiss-Tor, a xenophobic insectoid culture, into the fold she cannot refuse. Her crew consists of her pilot/lover March, the mechanic Dina, and Velith the Ithtorian bounty hunter who had saved her life. Vel will be a valuable cultural resource for Jax on this mission.

As always where Jax goes, complications abound. When Jax and March "borrow" a skimmer to check on her finances it crashes before they can return it. Sabotage is suspected. They are rescued by a former mercenary friend of March's. Then they are approached by Sirantha's mother, Ramona, who gives her a sob story about her husband's suicide and their financial ruin. She claims the Syndicate will kill her if her daughter doesn't throw the mission. Jax of course makes no promises. Both these events have later implications which begin with March's merc friend begging a ride for himself, his non-human lover, and Jael, a "superhuman" Bred in a long since banned experiment, who appears deceptively young and defenseless but who has the ability to survive even a cellular disrupter. They site prejudicial policies against non-"normals" that will soon be enforced. Jax and crew soon realize the implications when the female goes into labor.

This prevents the crew from making further jumps as the newborn is too young to survive grimspace. Their only alternative is to find an emergency station to drop off the new family. But things are bit too quiet on Emry station and the reason is cause for alarm. With the political situation in disarray the Morgut (arachnoid type creatures nicknamed for having more gut than brains) have moved in, making food of those unfortunate enough to have been stationed there. After some extremely horrific moments when Jax has to endure deep concerns for March while guarding Vel's back, the station is secured and they are able to proceed to Lachion leaving the new family behind.

The Conglomerate is unhappy with the delays and has to spin the detours into a Goodwill tour or risk offending the Ithtorians. Things are no better on Lachion. Doc informs Jax that she is suffering from bone deterioration and recommends a stop gap treatment. He can do no more at the moment since the newly formed Gunnar-Dahlgren clan is at war with the McCulloughs. In the battle which involves the terrible winged Teras, Dina is horribly maimed. March grows increasingly frustrated with Sirantha. He has experienced so much loss and is unable to accept Jax's altruistic efforts to spare him the pain of what she feels is her inevitable decline. Feeling that she does not need him, he opts to stay behind to pay back his debt to Mair, the woman who had helped him quiet his mind when his Psi powers had emerged, by helping her daughter Keri survive.

Although Jael continues to be her faithful bodyguard, and Hit joins the crew as the new pilot, Jax feels lost without March. Soon however she has other problems to contend with. Someone definitely doesn't want her to make it to Ithiss-Tor.

I love the way Ann Aquirre puts the reader inside of each character giving a better understanding of their motivations and their angst. It's impossible not to care about each and every one of them, even when their emotions are covered by sarcasm and bravado.

Though Jax appears to be self involved at points, it is her illness that makes her so. On all other fronts she is a changed Jax who puts the welfare of others before her own, and sometimes even to her own detriment. By the end of this installment the diplomatic mission is no longer just another payday for her but a vocation she plans to sink her teeth into. Jumping is no longer her life. This is huge. March has his own demons to deal with as he compartmentalizes his humanity and his life with Jax to become the killing machine he once was and needs to be again to pay back his debt on Lachion. The ever tough Dina has to deal with being the protected instead of the protector and it's quite obvious that Jael has a few more secrets up his sleeve. I look forward to discovering more about Hit in the next installment. Oh did I forget to mention that Jax's PA now has a droid body and a new name, Constance? Surprises abound not the least of which was the ending, which is not the end by a long shot. Look for book 3, DOUBLEBLIND in October of 2009 followed by book 4, KILLBOX.

WANDERLUST is an action packed, engrossing and addictive science fiction thrill ride that leaves the reader on the edge of their seat waiting for the next fix. I want a t-shirt that says, "Jax is addicted to grimspace, I'm addicted to Jax!"

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted September 22, 2008

SUMMARY

**A PNR Staff Top Pick**

Sirantha Jax doesn't take chances...she jumps at them...

Sirantha Jax is a "Jumper," a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup needed to navigate faster than light ships through grimspace. Jax has worked for the Farwan Corporation her entire career. But now the word's out that the Corp deliberately crashed a passenger ship, and their stranglehold on intergalactic commerce has crumbled-which means that Jax is out of a job.

She's also broke, due to being declared dead a little prematurely. So when the government asks her to head up a vital diplomatic mission, Jax takes it. Her mandate: journey to the planet Ithiss-Tor and convince them to join the Conglomerate.

But Jax's payday is light years away. First, she'll have to contend with Syndicate criminals, a stormy relationship with her pilot, man-eating aliens, and her own grimspace-weakened body. She'll be lucky just to make it to Ithiss-Tor alive...

WANDERLUST is an September 2008 PNR Staff Top Pick!

Read an Excerpt

 

Wanderlust
(Sirantha Jax: Book 2)
by Ann Aguirre

Ace Books
August 1, 2008
Available: August 26, 2008
ISBN #0441016278
EAN #9780441016273
320 pages
Paperback
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Other Books by
Ann Aguirre

Devil's Punch
Shady Lady
Killbox
Hell Fire
Blue Diablo
Grimspace


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