Beyond Meridian by CC Bridges
Two men. One passion. No choice.
A Men in Space story.
Captain Rick Raine got more than he bargained for when he agreed to take on a brash young man as a crewmember along with contraband cargo. Karl’s spirit intrigues him, but he didn’t sign up for battling privateers, the United Planetary Alliance—or his traitorous body’s response. Especially to a naïve kid who cheats at holo poker and knows a whole lot more than he should.
Deep in the heart of enemy space, Karl’s goal, to rescue the woman who saved him from a life of sexual servitude, is finally close enough to touch. Unfortunately, so is Captain Raine, who becomes erotic poetry in motion when he pilots the ship. Raine’s an honest thief, but Karl can’t trust him with UPA secrets that could get them both killed.
But when Karl signed on for this mission, no one told him to hang on to his heart.
[The Men in Space covers work for me as they’re suitably spacey looking and the naked men are ok. Bit over the top but what I expected from Samhain.]
Beyond Meridian is the second book (because I read it second) in the trio of stories in the Men in Space anthology. This is better than the first story and it’s packed with action and adventure for those thrill seeking readers. The characters are good with plenty of hot sex but this novella also includes a fully fleshed out and executed plot. The story is a little reminiscent of every other space story in existence but that familiarity shouldn’t bother too many readers as long as they know that going in.
The plot revolves around a young man named Karl who is on a mission to save a friend. This friend is like a mother to Karl and is currently undercover as a slave on a distant planet. Karl enlists space pilot Rick Raine’s help to free Karl’s friend in an action filled space adventure. Along the way the two men happen to fall in love.
The world building in this story is somewhat better than the first but still has very familiar aspects to it. Here there are two warring entities – the United Planetary Alliance and the Confederacy. The Confederacy promotes the heavy use of slaves and gives those slaves no rights and no identity. The UPA on the other hand are working to stop the Confederacy’s evil ways and in between the two warring factions are a number of “neutral” planets. There is obviously nothing especially unique or inventive about this space world and nothing especially science fiction based either but the elements are well known to readers so thankfully the story doesn’t have to provide too much background for readers to understand the setting.
Along the mission to save Karl’s friend are several side trips with contraband and even an encounter with space pirates. This keeps the action level high while Karl and Raine are dancing around each other sexually. The actual sex scenes don’t take place until almost the end of the book as the flirting and adventure fill most of the novella. This helps the story stay more plot based with a bit of sex for a thrill towards the end. The characters are decent but somewhat stereotypical. Raine is a well known dashing captain who sleeps with men and women in every port, but is known as one of the best pilots. Karl is the innocent young man with a shady past and more courage than intelligence. Of course Raine can’t help falling for Karl’s youthful good looks and naïve crusades.
The story and themes are classic ones and nothing startling unique or original but the writing helps keep the plot interesting and readable. The ending is a bit over the top and the final emotional resolution comes too fast. However there is a strong happy ending which should please fans and the almost non-stop action keeps the story from being dull or rote. As a fan of fun, over the top, and somewhat ridiculous space stories, this story delivered exactly what I was hoping.
Get it HERE!