by KS Augustin, futuristic (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $3.50, ISBN 1-59998-714-7

What interesting timing - I was just putting away my copy of Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (a terrible game, by the way, don't bother with it) when KS Augustin's Combat! comes my way. We are going to Sundi's World for this world, where our Shang Tsung-wannabe is a Prefect Dinoh. He is the boss that oversees the tournaments called the Reward Series where people bash each other's brain out for the amusement of the audience. The prize for the victor is a large sum of money. ... Until Prefect Dinoh announces that the contestants will pair off to fight and the victorious pair will then shag each other that same night. I don't get it as this "twist" doesn't really add much to the story other than as an excuse for the main characters to have sex. My mood is ruined by this obvious little contrivance.

Our heroine is Ebony Strike. She's doing the whole blood and guts thing for the kiddies, by the way. Our hero Aldanen is doing it because it's his job - he's an undercover agent working towards putting an end to the illegal tournaments and putting away Prefect Dinoh.

What could have been an interesting story is rendered into something more average when the author uses sex scenes as a shortcut to suggest that the two characters have bonded and therefore have found true love or something by the last page. There are some interesting ideas here, but the contrived sex scenes really get in the way. This could have been good, but the author decides to aim below the reader's belt one time too many where her priorities are concerned and everyone ends up losing sight of the track, so to speak, after a while.

Rating: 64

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