Monday, February 28, 2011

Review of Taken To The Limit by Nico Rosso

Taken To The Limit by Nico Rosso

Thanks to everyone's favorite pimpin' romance blogger, Mandi at Smexybooks, I was introduced to both Zoë Archer and Nico Rosso recently. I inhaled the first book of Archer's series, Warrior, with the utmost joy, and am looking forward to reading more of her work. I was also intrigued about her husband's sci fi romance, Taken To The Limit. Since I have recently discovered this new-to-me subgenre of romance, I am eagerly exploring these books.

Before I read Taken To The Limit, I began to read Rosso's tumblr series called Dead Drop. It's a dark and gritty first person narrative with a real "hardboiled" or "noir" vibe to it. It's superb. The daily entries are short and powerful. Rosso has mastered first person POV....the reader is instantly immersed into Trey's troubled world, filled with crime, double crosses, and paranoia. Rosso's writing here is effortless. I love how quickly we get sucked into Trey's dilemma, and how real his character seems. He is at once filled with bravado, quick wit, and vulnerability. I am super impressed with this short series. Creating such a compelling character and storyline in this type of format is quite a challenge, and Rosso has done a stellar job.

So, my expectations for Taken To The Limit were pretty damned high. I was expecting tight, effortless writing, fascinating characters, and the extra bonus of sci fi world-building detail.

To be honest, I found it hard to believe that the same person wrote both of these works. While the sci fi portion of this book is excellent, the romance part is not.

Let's start with the good stuff. The sci fi part of this book is wonderful. Rosso's futuristic/alien world-building details are way cool....the body armor, alien races, battle on the moon. My favorite was the morphing gun with a woman's voice, transforming from one weapon into another. The action sequences were great. Rosso's strong points in this book are without a doubt the world-building detail and the action.

His two main characters, Korina and Morrow, have a lot of potential. He is a strong warrior of a hero, and she is an equally strong and determined partner. However, we never get the depth of character here that we get in Dead Drop. Which is crazy, since Dead Drop is so much shorter. But for some reason, Rosso is able to capture Trey's personality to a "T" in that short series, whereas the characters in Taken To The Limit often times have a "cartoony" quality.

The weakest part of this book is the romance. Sentences like "Their bond deepened, as if doorways in their deepest selves were thrown open" and "Without words, they told each other what was in their hearts" totally threw me for a loop. Now, if I were reading a Harlequin, I would expect stuff like this. Maybe. But this is the same guy who is writing sharp, clever material in Dead Drop.

The thing about romance is that the sex needs to reflect the type of story you're writing. If you're writing a sweet story, the sex is sweet. If you're writing a dark and disturbing romantic suspense, the sex is darker, edgier. If you're writing sci fi, with lots of intense action, the sex needs to be right on board with that. Intense, powerful stuff. The love scenes in this book don't mesh with the rest of the story. They were full of clichés and to be honest, distracting. This is not the first time I have read a sci fi/erotica where the science fiction and the romance are dueling with each other instead of complementing each other. I can see that blending these two things together seamlessly is definitely a challenge.

So, here's my take on this. The word that popped into my head when reading Dead Drop was "authentic"....there is a real authenticity to this reveals the author's true voice, feels totally genuine and not forced. The same cannot be said for Taken To The Limit. The author's strengths are apparent (sci fi detail, action/adventure), but so are his weaknesses (lovey-dovey romance stuff). I think Nico Rosso needs to stick with gritty, and he'll be all set.

Grade: C+

Here is a link to Dead Drop. This series is wonderful and addictive. I highly recommend it.