Guest Review: Oops, Caught (Expanding Horizon #1) by Alli Reshi

Mark Noland can’t figure out how he got into such a fix. How does an ex-mercenary (okay, an almost-reformed mercenary) get himself caught, stuck in a holding cell, on a hostile alien planet? Held captive by strange bug-like creatures who’d just as soon eat him as look at him. How can a simple mission go so awry? To make matters worse, Noland’s not alone. His fellow prisoner, a certain high-ranking, elite Stella officer holds him responsible for their failed plan. Yeah, it was supposed to be a quick in and quick out sort of mission. But no… Officer Gavnson just can’t let it go.

It’s not so easy trying to plan an escape when Noland keeps getting distracted by how his mission partner so very nicely fills out his uniform. And he suspects Gavnson is hiding something, too. As tensions run high, secrets are revealed that will change the both of them. There’s nothing like gunfights and running for your life to make that special bond.

Reviewer: Shee Reader

Oops, Caught opens in a prison cell on a far off planet inhabited by giant horned insects that eat humanoids who have annoyed them! What an opening! I was dropped right into the story from the outset. The pair of prisoners are our main characters: Noland a mostly reformed mercenary, and Gavnson, an Everian, and Stellar Corps officer. They are quite the unlikely couple and the bickering from the outset reminded me of growing up with siblings!

As we get to know our guys better, their heroic characters emerge. Noland is likeable from the outset, and Gavnson’s prickly, stoic service-man nature grew on me as his vulnerabilities unfolded. The escape bid is as brave as it is dangerous and the fact that the sniping between the two men persisted was entertaining. The waspishness quickly turned into sexual tension, no where near as one sided as it appeared at first. The story culminates with the pair traveling in a stolen ship to rendezvous with their teams, in a distinct HFN situation.

The world building was concise and clear. In such a short novel there is no time for a more detailed reveal, but it works well. The enemy were descriptively painted and were quite disgusting!

I enjoyed Alli’s writing style, but I felt the book could easily have been longer. I would have enjoyed more insight into the development of both characters, their life changing experiences and how they met. Lots of these details were tied up as loose ends at the emotional final scene of the story, but more would have been great. Gavnson particularly seemed to do a full and abrupt about-face at the culmination of the tale. in all, this is a very readable MM short sci-fi book.

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