ARC Review: Calamity by Constance Fay

Today’s review is about CALAMITY by Constance Fay. This is the first book published by Bramble, Tor Publishing Group’s romance imprint. CALAMITY is a science fiction romance that involves a scouting party, intergalactic mafia politics, and what amounts to forced proximity.

Author: Constance Fay
Series: Uncharted Hearts Book 1
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Bramble
Publish Date: November 14, 2023
Print Length: 320

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Official Synopsis

Winter’s Orbit meets Ilona Andrews in this sexy enemies-to-lovers romance.

The captain of a ragtag mercenary ship is given an offer she can’t refuse by the ruthless head of an intergalactic noble family. The only catch? She’ll have to team up with his son–an upsettingly competent hardbody with his own agenda–to get her reward.

She’s got a ramshackle spaceship, a misfit crew, and a big problem with its sexy newest member…

Temperance Reed, banished from the wealthy and dangerous Fifteen Families, just wants to keep her crew together after their feckless captain ran off with the intern. But she’s drowning in debt and revolutionary new engine technology is about to make her beloved ship obsolete.

Enter Arcadio Escajeda. Second child of the terrifying Escajeda Family, he’s the thorn in Temper’s side as they’re sent off on a scouting mission on the backwater desert planet of Herschel 2. They throw sparks every time they meet but Temper’s suspicions of his ulterior motives only serve to fuel the flames between them.

Despite volcanic eruptions, secret cultists, and deadly galactic fighters, the greatest threat on this mission may be to Temper’s heart.

My Review

I received a free, digital, advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. My review is my own and reflects my honest opinion about this book.

CALAMITY by Constance Fay science fiction romance set in what amounts to the mafia in space. Banished by her Family, Temperance (Temper) Reed works as the Captain of a scout crew living job to job. Then she gets a scouting offer she can’t refuse from the Escajeda, one of the top Five Families, which is exactly what she needs for some much-needed ship repairs. However, she’s less than enthusiastic about the stipulation requiring that Arcadio Escajeda, one of the Escajeda’s children, join the mission as their security. Whether for security or spying, Temper isn’t pleased. But she and her crew need the funds, which undoubtedly means they find themselves in a situation that’s more than Temper bargained for.

A very approachable sci-fi read, CALAMITY incorporates space travel but stays light on the technical jargon. This is a debut book published by Bramble, which is a new Tor Publishing Group imprint dedicated to romance. Thus, one can expect romance and spice all set in space and new worlds. For those who prefer some plot with their passion, rest assured that the bulk of the story focuses on the scouting task.

The tone and writing style of CALAMITY is sarcastic and straight forward with some dry humor. Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting this, so it initially threw me off. But once I settled into narrative and realized this casual style was intentional, I didn’t mind it. I did roll my eyes a few times, though, at the wry and cynical generalizations Temper makes about men. Yet she also realizes she can be just as ridiculous with her actions or thoughts. Overall, though, I felt that this story needed one more editing pass. I thought the construction of some sentences was odd, particularly in the first third of the story, so much so that I had to reread passages a few times. I also caught a naming discrepancy that I hope was fixed prior to publication.

Regardless, the fast-paced plot was easy to follow, though the crew doesn’t always have it easy. There are definitely some tense moments and even some gore as the plot hits a high action point. I found the information about how the Families operate interesting. Some operate in biotechnology circles while others focus on hard tech. So they’re always competing with each other and vying for a spot in the top Fifteen or Five. This also means that the Families basically heavily influence the market because that’s what rich and powerful people do.

With respect to the romance, unfortunately it felt mostly flat to me. I suppose one could categorize it as insta-lust. But even the lust seemed downplayed to just a few sentences of Temper thinking about how hot Arcadio is. And even though they’re on a ship and a mission together, I didn’t feel like there was enough interaction in the story to warrant much beyond attraction. In short, I wanted more interpersonal development and banter. Instead, I felt disconnected from their relationship despite enjoying the ride enough to keep going. Furthermore, Arcadio, while not one dimensional, was not as fleshed out as he could have been. Although CALAMITY is from Temper’s point of view, I don’t think this is the limiting factor since many first-person POVs have great development of other characters.

In summary, I think I set my expectations high when I found out about this science fiction romance. I don’t read a ton of science fiction, so the inclusion of romance is what drew me in. However, while this book didn’t blow me away, I enjoyed the time I spent reading it. Overall, CALAMITY by Constance Fay is tense yet entertaining intergalactic mafia mission. This is a fun, quick read for those who prefer lighter science fiction that incorporates a moderate dose of romance without sacrificing the plot. Lastly, while it appears CALAMITY might be part of a series, it reads as a stand alone.

Rating: 3.5
Content warnings: blood, death, gore, sexual content
Reading format: Kindle e-book

6 thoughts on “ARC Review: Calamity by Constance Fay

    1. It’s a fun read, which is probably what matters. 🙂 I hope you enjoy it & I’ll keep an eye out for your review!

  1. This wasn’t on my radar but the comp to Ilona Andrews and Winter’s Orbit makes me want to give it a go! As a romance lover, it is a bummer to hear that the romance didn’t hit but this still sounds interesting enough for me to want to pick it up. Great review!

    1. Thanks, Dini! It’s still a fun read despite my opinion that the relationship needed more depth. Def pick it up for some lighter sci-fi reading. 🙂

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