by Mima, fantasy (2008)
Liquid Silver Books, $5.95, ISBN 978-1-59578-442-1
Within Reach is part of Mima's furry fantasy series, but unlike many of the previous books in the series, this one can stand alone very well due to minimal references to previous stories. Therefore, I believe that anyone new to the series won't get too short-circuited while trying to make sense of things.
Ruse is a Sandcat, one of the warrior-like humanoid Beasts that live in the countryside in the author's fantasy setting. He befriends a young human girl, Eledi, one day while he's in the city. This leads to a romance between him and the girl's mother Amaya. Amaya and Ruse are both outcasts in the city and poor Amaya can do nothing more than to sell her body to make a living. However, she feels that she and Ruse can never because their worlds are so different. But you know how these Beasts can be - they can be really tenacious, especially when the "Mate" word comes up.
On the whole, I have no major problems with this story apart from one thing: the characters are very flat here. Ruse is a nice fellow who respects women as much as he does all kinds of kinky fun stuff to Amaya, but that's pretty much all there is to his personality. Amaya is either brittle and stand-offish or she's a victim who finds succor in the arms of a Beast. I believe that author Mima is trying to make some kind of statement about how sometimes folks in the countryside who live simple lives can be more enlightened than folks living in cities, but the characters are so lifeless and their conversations are so stilted that I feel sometimes that this story is like a machine going through some preprogrammed motions.
On the bright side, the series have come a long way since the over-the-top cartoon that is the first book and I still find the author's take on a Gor-like setting, only with a slant that gives women more power than any Gor book ever will, interesting. The pacing is fine and the prose is readable. Perhaps it is time that Ms Mima spices up the setting by making the personalities of the characters in her story a little more vibrant and alive.
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