Aug 21 2012 2:30pm

First Look: Anna Scarlett’s Degrees of Wrong (August 28, 2012)

Degrees of Wrong by Anna Scarlett

Anna Scarlett
Degrees of Wrong
Samhain / August 28, 2012 / $4.73 digital

Dr. Elyse Morgan’s mission: find the cure to the HTN4 virus. The compensation, courtesy of the United Nations: a lab stocked with hi-tech goodies, limitless resources and enough chocolate to make her rear look like a cellulite farm. Bonus: she gets to live.

Rescued (kidnapped) and secreted (imprisoned) on an undersea warship, Elyse adjusts to her assumed identity as a cadet with the finesse of a toeless ballerina. Her sulfuric temper and blatant insubordination capture the unwanted attention of the ship’s captain, the gorgeous, infuriating, engaged Nicoli Marek.

From the first page, Anna Scarlett's Degrees of Wrong immediately kicks into high gear with the intrepid heroine in the middle of a war zone—one that is being fought over her. The life she has always known is being ripped apart, and she responds by fighting back with her best tools: her intellect and wit. Disguised as a cadet, she's taken aboard a ship, where she is warned to remain anonymous—tough for a woman who likes to respond with snappy comeback lines.

We’ve all stepped into alien worlds,  whether it's the first day at a new school or first day in a new work place, we just try to keep our heads above water and not get noticed until we figure out the rules. Degrees of Wrong's heroine Elyse, unfortunately, isn’t so good at not being noticed. She immediately draws the attention of the two people she should not if she is to remain another nameless face—the scariest drill sergeant on board and the engaged (and gorgeous!) captain. Now everyone knows who she is; half want to watch her go toe to toe with the sergeant and half want her dead because the captain seems to like her.

Elyse and the captain, Nicoli, build the rules on how they interact with each other on both a personal and professional level. While neither worked directly for the other, they were forced to co-exist in an environment with a strict hierarchical structure. The two of them found ways to communicate within that structure while maintaining their personalities and their personal reactions to the other.

Depending on who was around and what the situation called for, they used first names or titles, pet names or sarcastic nicknames. They both used and abused the structure of a military ship to get what they wanted from each other throughout the novel as the needs of the moment demanded.

The other major plus is how Nicoli’s engagement was handled throughout the novel. He's not engaged to a throwaway woman whom Nicoli has no problem breaking off with as easily as he might change his socks; Elyse treats his engagement, political or not, as a real contract.  Watching Nicoli and Elyse's relationship form under the shadow of this other bond does give it a different color, but one that likely makes the relationship stronger.

Learning to survive in any kind of foreign surroundings is something all of us have tried; learning to survive under an assumed identity while trying to figure out a cure for a deadly disease ramps the stakes up even higher, and makes Degrees of Wrongs' heroine even more admirable.


Rae herds cats for a living as a project manager & theatrical stage manager and is kept hopping at home with an energetic toddler and a music-afficianado husband. She can be found online at RaesAlley or on Twitter as @rszalley.

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