Star Cruise: Marooned by Veronica Scott
My science fiction romances take place in a farflung future civilization known as the Sectors. One aspect of life there is that humans and other sentients enjoy traveling on interstellar cruise liners, much as people sail the seas on Earth today in search of new sights and adventures.
In my latest novel STAR CRUISE: MAROONED, the hero and heroine work on board a small charter ship, the Far Horizon, taking extremely wealthy people on tours of the wonders in Sector 30. Here’s the opening of the book, as they approach the planet Dantaralon:
The shuttle broke out of the cloud layer and swooped over a breathtaking vista of pink and green foliage, practically glowing in the vid screens. The rainforest spread across the planet as far as the scanners could detect. Clouds of multicolored birds flew above the treetops, drawing the eye to their wheeling movement across the turquoise sky. Here and there, rainbows curved from puffy clouds, where seasonal showers had added moisture to the air. As Meg walked through the cabin, offering refreshments to their guests, she attempted to direct their attention to the view of the planet. Anchored by trees soaring hundreds of feet from the surface, the foliage and avian wildlife were something never seen on the highly civilized worlds where these people lived and worked. Although they’d paid a staggering amount of credits to be taken to this site, neither the primary guest, nor the people he’d brought, seemed to care. Drinking, playing cards, and indulging in sexual innuendo took all their attention.
Not much changed from cruise to cruise with the rich and powerful, despite Meg’s best efforts to share the simple pleasure she found in the surroundings at each port of call.
A few moments later they’ve landed:
As she triggered the door to allow the passengers to exit for their excursion today, Meg said, “We’ll be here for four hours, so you have plenty of time to stroll along the beach, enjoy the view, and relax. It’s safe to swim in the lake, but please, no further out than the marker buoys where the sonic barrier begins. The crew and I’ll be setting up your pavilion and amenities, and serving the requested lunch in about an hour.”
The music the Falls was famed for thundered outside. The water was effervescent, filled with bubbles of all the colors of the rainbow, having leached minerals from the planet’s surface as the river flowed toward the solitary ocean. The way the liquid poured through the cliff’s rocky channels and crevices produced constantly changing crystalline “music.” Meg loved it here. Dantaralon was one of her favorite spots. She stepped outside for a moment herself, before the work had to begin again. The air was warm, redolent with scent from the many flowering plants.
“Wow.” Red descended the short ramp to stand beside her, staring at the waterfall in the distance. “Impressive, like the brochures promised.”
“We specialize in conveying our passengers on a tour of exotic natural wonders,” Meg said. “This part of Sector Thirty is full of amazing sights on so many planets.”
“Seen one waterfall, seen them all. Come on, let’s get this done before the Primary starts complaining.” Drewson left the shuttle, jumped off the ramp, and went to open the cargo hold.
Meg Antille works long hours on the charter cruise ship Far Horizon so she can send credits home to her family. Working hard to earn a promotion to a better post (and better pay), Meg has no time for romance.
Former Special Forces soldier Red Thomsill only took the berth on the Far Horizon in hopes of getting to know Meg better, but so far she’s kept him at a polite distance. A scheduled stopover on the idyllic beach of a nature preserve planet may be his last chance to impress the girl.
But when one of the passengers is attacked by a wild animal it becomes clear that conditions on the lushly forested Dantaralon aren’t as advertised – the ranger station is deserted, the defensive perimeter is down…and then the Far Horizon’s shuttle abruptly leaves without any of them.
Marooned on the dangerous outback world, romance is the least of their concerns, and yet Meg and Red cannot help being drawn to each other once they see how well they work together. But can they survive long enough to see their romance through? Or will the wild alien planet defeat them, ending their romance and their lives before anything can really begin?
Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Three time winner of the Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances!a Rafflecopter giveaway