Review copy was received from Author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Maelstrom by Cara Bristol
Series: Cyborg Force #4
Published by Self-Published on February 20, 2023
Genres: Romance, Science Fiction
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple
All Sandy Jodane ever wanted was to belong, to be loved. Instead, she’s become a pawn to be used and discarded by her empire-building politician mother. After turning to stardust to deaden the pain of rejection, she finds the strength to beat her addiction and live life on her own terms. But just as she makes a clean break, she finds herself on a desolate alien planet, taken into custody by a powerful cyborg determined to break her and get the information he needs.
A failed marriage proved to cyborg Quint Stroud that duty and love don’t mix so he’s dedicated himself to C-Force, fighting for justice in the galaxy. He’s now facing the toughest assignment of his career: protecting the life of a unique intelligent alien species on planet Sajave from a corrupt Earth president who would destroy it. Saving the alien will require help from an insider—the president’s complicit, reprobate daughter. He vows to do whatever it takes to coerce her cooperation.
The series finale has arrived and I couldn’t be more eager to pick up a book. A shades of gray heroine faces off with the most intimidating cyborg of them all with the survival of the alien Sajave and greedy human corporations at a flash point. Maelstrom was a forceful cyborg romance finale.
Sandy Jodane is the ruthless and powerful earth president’s daughter. She has the reputation, somewhat earned, of being a strung-out druggie to those in the know, but a dutiful daughter to those on the outside looking in. To her mother, she is a disappointment and usable pawn, unless she becomes not worth it, and then she’s disposable. To the head of C-Force, she is potential leverage. But, to Sandy herself, she’s a big question mark. Who knew getting captured could be so freeing?
Maelstrom brings together an unlikely pairing with motifs of enemies-to-lovers, forced proximity, and redemption of a bad gal character woven together well to match the expectation of a final book in a series that has been sexy and action-packed from the get-go.
I enjoyed how Sandy is a flawed, vulnerable person who has been neglected and emotionally (if not out-right physically) abused daughter and has taken most of her life to figure things out. I like that her changes weren’t a result of Quint, but her own agency though his actions did force her to pick up the pace and take a leap of faith at the crucial point.
Meanwhile, Quint is suspicious, but attracted to a woman for the first time since his ex wasn’t willing to share him with his military career (which many relationship partners face giving this another layer of authenticity). He sees something in her that surprises him because he expected her to be a mini-me of her cold, ruthless mother, but he also sees she’s fighting demons and he doesn’t think she’d do any better than his ex at handling his career even if she did choose to help against her mother.
President Katherine Jodane is a formidable opponent to the cyborg team which kept up the tension for me wondering how they’d beat her after she gets one up on them once again and they were already the underdogs.
The real stars of the series have always been the enigmatic alien sentients and and I loved seeing its role grow through the series to the big climax in the end.
All in all, this was a furious-fast read because I had to know how it all wrapped up. Then I felt the disappointment of having no more of the series left to anticipate. I can’t rave about Cara Bristol’s cyborgs enough (this series or her others) and I also can only hope she has more spicy sci-fi romance readying to launch.
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