Stolen Moments
by Nica Berry, futuristic (2008)
Loose Id, $5.99, ISBN 978-1-59632-704-7

Stolen Moments is far less controversial than the lizard-loves-me story that was Nica Berry's Loose Id debut Venom's Bond. I know I'm probably one of the three people out there who found Venom's Bond interesting in an experimental manner, but be rest assured that Stolen Moments sees the author in more familiar waters. I can't help but to be slightly disappointed by that, to be honest. I was kind of hoping for a bunch of rogue Ewoks forcing themselves on a screaming Yoda.

Meet Terezia Escalante, our heroine. As the Chief Engineer of the spacecraft Cavalier, she believes she knows what she is doing when she sabotages her ship in order to allow an illegal stowaway to get away and deliver what he says is a cure for a deadly plague killing his people. Alas, the getaway is only partially successful - Liam, the stowaway, manages to get away but the resulting explosion causes Terezia to be badly injured. Liam is forced to leave her behind.

What do you know, when Terezia recovers three months later and has to face the music for her actions, she genuinely doesn't remember what she did. Throughout her ordeals, she finds an unexpected source of help - Liam's twin brother Lukha. Lukha is attracted to her but is not happy when he realizes that Liam has gotten there first, so to speak. And apparently there is some kind of... I don't know, chemical reaction due to the "Tharsian heritage" of the guys, I suppose, that compels Terezia to take two twin brothers instead of just settling for one because having sex with one of them makes you horny for all two of them. This is some kind of Thasian evolutionary mechanism to propagate the same favorable traits without having to resort to inbreeding, I guess. Or something like that, heh. Therefore, while Terezia doesn't fully understand why, she is drawn to Lukha. But with danger never far from their rear ends, it may take some time before ménage utopia is attained.

What I really like about Stolen Moments is how it tries not to be just like every other paranormal romances featuring two guys and a girl. Lukha and Liam may be twin brothers but Ms Berry does a credible job in giving each man ample personality to allow them to become characters in their own right instead of one guy split into two via binary fission. The characters don't just fall into bed - there are trust issues, for one, and Ms Berry attempts to address these issues. The villain is quite adorable, but I always have a soft spot for obsessive crazy men. The build-up is good too, with the story reaching its peak in a denouement that is both gripping and melodramatic.

The only issue I have is that the story seems to move on a fast-foward pace at times. Despite this being marketed as a novel, it is not that long a story. Therefore, I feel that there could have been more done to allow the plot to be better fleshed out even if it means an extra few thousand words have to be added in the process. I like Stolen Moments, but it has its moments when I feel that the story is rather underbaked.

Nonetheless, despite its flaws, Stolen Moments has plenty to recommend it, at least in my opinion. It dares to be different, for one, and the story doesn't rush into a contrived early sex clinch without the author providing a reasonable context for the scene to take place. It can get rough around the edges at times, but Stolen Moments delivers everything that is needed to give me plain old great time.

Rating: 86

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