Thursday, June 23, 2016

Book Tour for The Champion of Baresh by Susan Grant (Review & GIVEAWAY)

I have enjoyed the works of this author since she first came on the scene in 2000.  Her vivid depictions of sci-fi living are among the best which is why I'm happy she's back!  Keep reading to get a compelling glimpse of The Champion of Baresh by Susan Grant and its tale of a woman dressing as a man to play in a beloved sport that will make her family's life better drawn to the jaded prince who feels lost while trying to make amends.  You'll also get my impressions of this book and can learn even more about it by visiting the other sites hosting this tour.  In honor of this first installment in the Star World Frontier series make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a $25 Amazon GC too!

RITA-winner Susan Grant is back with an all-new, stand-alone tale of two improbable lovers, their daring secret, and the gamble destined to alter the course of their worlds forever!
She was playing with fire...
Jemm Aves battles to keep her dreams alive on a dead-end world. Working for the mines by day, she’s a successful bajha player at night, disguised as a male to be allowed to compete in the colony’s dangerous underworld where club owners will go to extremes to retain the best players. Every win puts her one small step closer to her goal: saving enough to escape Barésh with her family. When a nobleman from one of the galaxy’s elite families recruits her to be a star player for his team, it's because he doesn't know her secret. Her ruse proves to be her most perilous game yet when it puts both their lives—and her heart—at risk.
Prince Charming he was not...
Prince Klark is eager to reverse his reputation as the black sheep of the Vedla clan, a family as famous for its wealth and power as it is for being a bastion of male-dominated tradition. If his bajha team can win the galactic title it would go a long way toward restoring the family honor that his misdeeds tarnished. He travels to Barésh to track down an amateur who’s risen to the top of the seedy world of street bajha, offering the commoner a chance of a lifetime: a way off that reeking space rock for good. But his new player comes with a scandalous secret that turns his plans and his beliefs upside down. He sets out to win a very different prize—his champion’s reluctant heart.


As soon as Kes left the locker room, Klark turned to the wall and slapped his hands against the cold, tiled wall, keeping them pressed there, fingers spread, willing his hands to serve as anchors to prevent him from going after her.
Sea Kestrel, a female.
A woman!
No mere woman, either. He remembered her as Jemm, the errant Nico’s alleged girlfriend: her long, strong, lean body and the graceful way she moved; that swaying, tempting bottom as she walked away; her wavy hair wild and loose—all but begging for his fingers to be tangled in it as he made love to her.
Damnation. The mental image alone made his body react and his blood run hot. Yet, this same female to which he was so attracted played bajha far better than he ever could. He had come to respect her as an unbelievably talented athlete, had let down his guard around her as a friend, and now she was a beautiful woman, as well? In his world, such disparate qualities could not apply to any one person. Yet, together, they added up to Jemm.




From the first page to the last there's much about this book that left me giddy with its virtually angst-free romance between apparent opposites and exhilarating action scenes set amidst class and gender distinctions.  Some of the themes are familiar but Ms. Grant put a fresh spin on them which added to my overall enjoyment and I didn't want it to end.

Jemm's grown up on a harsh world where her people are considered amongst the lowest class.  A lack of food, medical care, and a family torn apart by the death of her father and her brother's wife has her dreaming of a way out.  With so much oppression and feelings of hopelessness she clings to those moments of joy that playing bajha with her father's encouragement bring her and plans to use her talents to make a better life for them all despite the adversity.  Long held beliefs of a woman's role casts a shadow over her dreams though and leads to her hiding her sexuality at first in order to play.  When she meets Prince Klark though keeping her secret becomes even harder as their connection becomes more palpable with its increasing sexual tensions once he discovers the truth. Twists and turns take them on a heartwarming and uplifting journey that leads to radical change across the universe in an ultimately rousing conclusion. Jemm's a delightful heroine, strong-willed and loyal.  She has a big heart, an open mind, and her joy in playing bajha is infectious.  She dreams big and her belief in herself and her dream had me cheering.  She's a bit rough around the edges with her constant cursing but it made her all the more likable.  She brought joy to Klark's stale life and together they made a formidable match.

Klark grew up knowing his role as The Spare to his brother's one day ascending to the throne.  It's his role to protect his brother and keep their family line honorable.  That belief led to a horrible decision that hurt his family and bruised his relationship with them, as well as landing him on house arrest.  With his sentence ended he's sworn to himself that he'll bring honor to their family name and make them proud of him once again.  For so long he's lived a meaningless life of frivolity, never finding something meaningful to him, until he formed a bajha team.  Having them win the championship is his main goal and is what brings him to dirty and dangerous Baresh and the unforgettable bajha player who's like nothing he's ever seen before.  He's in awe of her the minute he meets her, drawn to her wholeheartedly, despite knowing nothing about her. Discovering her true gender creates new drama but it also opens his heart to feelings of love he's always denied before.  She brings happiness to his structured life, giving him moments of carefree fun.  Soon, he too is dreaming....dreaming of a future with her despite the odds and familial expectations.  Theirs is a joyous relationship full of laughter and smiles, along with steamy encounters that are both sensual and playful.  Klark may have started off a bit standoffish and a bit lost, but meeting Jemm had him focusing on a future with her, a future that has him a part of many big changes.  His heart was hidden early on but with each word and deed directed at Jemm he became a true romantic.  He fought for her on every level, reminding her that she was so much more than the downtrodden existence she came from and it left me in love with him.

This was a well-paced story for the most part with only a bit of lag in the middle as Jemm and Klark were training and getting to know more about each other. The main characters were strong-willed with personalities that were immensely appealing with a romance that had me smiling and cheering.  The secondary characters were a colorful bunch, from Jemm's heartbroken brother Nico to her fellow bajha teammates and their brotherly and playful interactions with her, and they added much enjoyment to the story and plenty of fodder for more stories set in this universe in the future.  Baresh is vividly depicted, warts and all, and shows the true strength of Jemm to rise above its bleakness.  The sport of bajha is similar to fencing and Ms. Grant's depiction of it is an exhilarating one full of pulse-pounding scenes that had me feeling like a part of the sweaty action and became a driving force for change across many levels. Fans of sci-fi will find this an entertaining and satisfying read that once again shows Ms. Grant to be the queen of this genre and I look forward to revisiting this world soon!

My rating for this is an A-

*I got this book from NetGalley for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Susan Grant is a New York Times bestselling author who enjoys being able to indulge her love of travel and adventure by piloting jumbo jets around the globe. Her careers as a commercial pilot and air force pilot have provided endless inspiration for her books. Susan is the author of The Star King, launch book of her popular Star series about a spacefaring Earth family, as well as the RITA-winning novel Contact. Her new series debuts in 2016 with The Champion of Barésh. Susan and her family live in the scenic foothills of northern California.
Love to arm-chair travel? Sit down, strap in, and visit Susan's Come Fly With Me blog at her website.


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