Some readers have been lamenting the sameness of New Adult titles, particularly the “bad boy hero meets innocent heroine,” dynamic. Therefore, I started wondering if the ones with a science fiction setting might offer a different twist. In my reading experience, that's certainly the case with S.A. Huchton's Maven, which launches her Endure series.
I first learned about Maven after blogging about my love of undersea adventure stories. I'd expressed a wish to read science fiction romances set beneath an ocean (on any planet). Subsequently, author S.A. Huchton gave me the heads-up about her book. Here's the blurb:
Since losing her parents at 14, young prodigy Dr. Lydia Ashley has focused on one thing: an appointment on the Deep Water Research Command Endure. Now 21, she’s about to realize that dream, but nothing is how she imagined it would be. Her transitional sponsor forgets her, her new lab is in complete chaos, and, as if that weren’t enough, she’s about to discover something so horrific it could potentially destroy all life on the planet.
Daniel Brewer, a noted playboy and genius in his own right, may be exactly what she needs… Or he may make everything worse.
Has she finally found a puzzle she can’t solve?
Maven is a strongly character-driven book. The story takes place aboard the Endure, but the characters don't deep sea dive for exploration purposes or embark on wild undersea submarine chases. Rather, it's a type of “lab lit” tale.
The heroine and hero are up against a corporate-style villain and there are mild suspense/mystery elements (including a scene of sexual jeopardy). The science in the story is extremely accessible but doesn't feel dumbed down.
Lydia will appeal to readers who enjoy smart, capable heroines. She drives the plot and uses her brain when encountering each new obstacle. One item of note: most characters in the story pretty much adore her. Depending on one's viewpoint, Lydia is either the ultimate wish-fulfillment/empowerment fantasy or a classic Mary Sue.
Maven taps into the coming-of-age trope. The romance centers on her navigating the choppy waters of a first love. Overall heat level is on the mild-moderate, sensual side. The book ends with a Happily For Now.
Frankly, this struck me as a tale aimed strongly at readers aged 17-25. It's very heroine-centric. I personally wish there'd been a story like Maven during my young adult years, when I was cutting my teeth on adult science fiction. Because many of those stories were for adult readers, they infrequently took my youth perspective into account—especially as a female. It's good to know that young SF/F fans have access to more age-appropriate stories these days.
The Endure series continues with Nemesis, which is currently available. Lydia and Daniel still have issues to work out and new threats emerge.
Maven was my first foray into NA SFR, but after reading it, I did some digging and discovered a few more NA SFR titles.
Daemons in the Mist by Alicia Kat Vancil
From what I've been able to gather, this book is categorized as YA, but the second one in the series, The Storm Behind Your Eyes, reportedly ages up to New Adult. The author has labeled her series “urban scifi,” meaning a contemporary setting with threads of magic-like technology.
Across the Galaxy and Imitation by Heather Hildenbrand
The blurb for Across the Galaxy describes a story about an alien heroine who's in hiding on Earth and who must choose “between victory and the one she was meant to save.”
The blurb for Imitation is a bit oblique, but according to the author's site, it's book one in her Clone Chronicles. I'm guessing the heroine discovers she's a clone with a mission to accomplish and has an identity mystery to solve.
Clutch (Junco #1) - J. A. Huss
Clutch is the first in the author's four book Junco series. The blurb indicates a story full of “avian” aliens, political intrigue, action-adventure, betrayal, and secrets. Clutch features a hero on a mission to kill the heroine. I'm betting a major complication is that he falls in love with her. Juicy sounding stuff!
Ten Days by Olivia Mayfield
According to the author's site, Ten Days is …“based on the sci-fi short story 'The Machine Stops' by E.M. Forster.” The heroine's society is ruled by an entity known as the “Machine.” The setting appears to be dystopian (shades of George Orwell's 1984, perhaps?) and is a place where open displays of love and affection are discouraged.
Removed (Nogiku #1) by S.J. Pajonas
The blurb for Removed is chock full of tags: a half-Japanese spymaster heroine; far-future Asian colonial and post-apocalyptic setting; political intrigue; secrets; and sword fighting. Sounds like an ambitious saga.
The Crimson Hunt (Eldaen Light Chronicles #1) by Victoria H. Smith
The Crimson Hunt features a college setting. The heroine meets the mysterious hero during her junior year. He's on “…a dark mission of otherworldly proportions, and is willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes to see it completed.” Seems like an NA SFR in the “alien hero who falls to Earth” vein. The blurb suggests a dark, angst-filled story.
Breath of Life (Gaian Consortium #1) by Christine Pope
I'm not sure if the author would categorize this futuristic “Beauty and the Beast” novella as New Adult, but having read it I believe it qualifies for this category. The story takes place on an alien world and features a futuristic take on the classic fairy tale. The hero is an enigmatic alien and the heroine is a likeable college-age student. Heat level is mild and pretty much on the sweet side.
It's interesting that the blurbs for the above titles promise an external plot in addition to the romance. A common theme seems to be “love against the odds” or “love conquers all odds.” The variety is pretty self-evident, so perhaps these titles can help satisfy the needs of some readers for alternate New Adult characters and romance plots.
For more information about some of these authors and titles, check out the transcript of this NALitChat.
If you've discovered a New Adult science fiction romance or two, hit me up!
Heather Massey is a lifelong fan of science fiction romance. She searches for sci-fi romance adventures aboard her blog, The Galaxy Express. She’s also an author in the subgenre. To learn more about her published work, visit heathermassey.com.