Review – In the Void (Tales from the Edge #2) by Sheryl Nantus

In the Void cover image

Publisher: Carina Press
Publish Date: 6 Oct
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Catherine Rodgers doesn’t like Mercy ships, or the courtesans who work on them—not after her husband left her for a Mercy woman. But after her yacht gets blown up to prevent her from cracking the lid off a corporate scam that’s left hundreds dead and a few people very rich, the only ship around to save her is the Bonnie Belle.

Sean Harrison has worked as one of the Belle’s courtesans for years, bringing happiness to countless women along the space lanes. When he’s asked to care for Catherine while the Belle brings her to safety, it should be just another job.

Somehow it’s anything but. Sean is captivated by Catherine’s sense of justice and responsibility. And Catherine finds a softer, more emotionally intelligent man in Sean than she expected. Drawn together in darkness under the threat of death, they find the beginning of something lasting. But with pirates after the Belle and a price on Catherine’s head, that beginning might be all they get.
This blurb came from the author’s website.

Earlier this year I found my eye caught by In the Black and thought the premise was different enough for me to take a chance. I enjoyed the story and the variety of different characters not to mention the different viewpoint provided for the employees of the Guild who worked on Mercy ships. So when I learned Nantus was continuing in this world I had to request a copy. Once again I found myself engrossed in her world.

I really enjoyed returning to the Bonnie Belle and seeing how the crew and employees were doing after their earlier traumatic events. I was also hoping to learn more about the courtesans and what caused them to become a courtesan. Unlike the first story with a threat onboard the Bonnie Belle, in this case the physical danger came from outside but several layers of emotional danger came from inside the ship. The Bonnie Belle still short a courtesan from their full compliment was continuing its usual route and trying to regain some of the profits lost from their extended stay at a mining colony. Then Sam, the ex-military ship captain and heroine of the first installment, continued keep the essence of her military training and refused to ignore a distress call even if it wasn’t exactly by Guild regulations. As a result, they brought onboard the sole survivor of a luxury cruiser and a whole new series of challenges.

Catherine, a high level executive, was traveling to Justice to testify against a scheme of short-selling space grade metal primarily used in military ships and therefore causing an unacceptable level of structural failures when her ship mysteriously exploded. The only vessel close enough to rescue her happened to be the Belle, a Mercy ship, and Catherine hated Mercy ships ever since her ex-husband publically left her for a courtesan. Suffering from shock, grief, betrayal, and in the last place she ever wanted to be I loved watching Catherine struggle, start to recover her balance, deal with a few more emotional blows, and then come out fighting. As she was facing her new reality I was able to learn more about each member of the ship as they reached out in one way or another – not always nicely – yet the team they made at the end was very impressive.

I have had a soft spot for Sean since the In the Black because he seemed so wounded yet sweet and caring as a result of his wounds. It was great seeing him start to feel again and stumble over those feelings even as he mentally tortured himself for not remaining detached. His fellow courtesans really didn’t help because they alternately warned him off, taunted him or disciplined him for breaking his training. And yet when it came down to it everyone stood together. Sean usually held the role of caretaker and comforter, which showed in this story as well but the others took turns in their own way when he was in need. It was good to see him stop punishing himself and take a chance on being happy if only for a brief moment.

In addition to the central romance as I have alluded to earlier I enjoyed the other interactions as well. It was as if everyone had become closer in the first installment and were still feeling their way through the new atmosphere. It was certainly a treat to see the Space Marshal and watch his interactions with Sam as they tried to hide their relationship yet couldn’t manage to keep the tension hidden. And Jenny the mechanic, who loved Belle like she was her own child, came to the rescue on more than one occasion with all sorts of tricks up her sleeves. For all she stayed mostly hidden during the events of In the Black her shell was gradually unfolding as well. She really came front and center when the Belle was under attack by the Pirates.

In the Void was a very good story. I enjoyed all of the different aspects and how deftly Nantus juggled emotional pain and the variety of different reactions it can cause. It was almost like each of the supporting characters brought out something different along with a different way of handling the situation and allowing both Catherine and Sean to overcome their situations. And the closing scenes **melt**. I really hope she continues to write in this world because I can’t wait to find out what happens next to the members of the Belle.

I give In the Void an A-

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