Veronica sez: Today Ed is my guest, talking about his latest science fiction romance novel Escapee (Repelling the Invasion), which he says was loosely inspired by the 1951 movie “The African Queen,” with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn. Ed and I ‘met’ doing the Weekend Writing Warrior snippet hops and we’re also in the Science Fiction Romance Brigade together. Take it away, Ed!
“The African Queen in outer space…”
Catt Sayer just wants to survive. The working-class fugitive delivers military supplies on her decrepit airship, but her hard-won livelihood vanishes when invaders overrun her harsh moon. Now an idealistic, upper-class officer wants her to risk her life on a hopeless voyage to attack enemy headquarters – manned by 10,000 soldiers.
Edward Hoornaert’s romantic space opera, Escapee, continues the saga of the Dukelsky family (begun in The Guardian Angel of Farflung Station). If you like The African Queen and the thrill of underdogs finding love while battling a hostile environment, you’ll love Escapee.
Hank slammed the tank to a stop.
“What’s the matter?” Catt asked.
“Ravine straight ahead. Too steep to cross.”
They were dead, then, sitting ducks for the approaching enemy. With the fascinated hopelessness of a baby mizzet watching the approach of a pack of Sargolay’s dismal-wolves, she counted the vehicles racing toward them. Twenty-four? No, a couple more crested a rise.
A stab of envy brought tears to her eyes. Lance had died the proper way, in the ship they both loved, not in a cramped, smelly, unfamiliar tank.
“I’m almost locked on the shield generator’s location.” Hank’s voice shocked her with its spirited joy. “Almost. Almost…” Then his face melted into a goofy grin. He turned to her and pulled her close for a quick hug that was over before she could respond.
She felt helpless, confused, and lost. How could he be happy? She supposed he’d locked on to the generator, but still… She didn’t want to die, not really, though she was willing to die for their cause. Mostly, though, she didn’t want Hank to die. She would’ve saved him if she could, even at the cost of her own life, but she understood nothing happening around her.
Something pinged off the tank, making it ring like a muffled bell. They’d been hit, but if Hank was right—of course he was right—the enemy couldn’t penetrate the tank’s armor. Yet.
A stream of projectiles slammed the tank, one after the other, in an endless, cacophonous barrage, dozens of them. Hundreds. Then the tank roared and jumped like a giant had swatted it.
What the plark? The enemy had brought up their cannon already? They might not miss their next shot.
But Hank’s face still glowed with savage intensity. “The shield generator is nearby. I need two more seconds.”
It seemed to take a lot more than two seconds—her sense of time had shrunk—but then the tank bellowed again, and the sound was different. Internal, not external. “Missile one, missile two,” Hank shouted. “Three and four.”
Recoil smacked Catt backward into the seat. She was grateful all over again it was so well padded. How was the poor skoot faring? She couldn’t see the animal.
“Got it! Got it!” Hank’s voice sounded tinny after the roar of the missiles.
“We did it? We made a difference?”
“We did it!”
“Hank, I love—”
Before she finished, a mountain jumped onto the tank. Catt’s teeth rattled. Her helmet’s speaker’s hissed with overload and then went silent. The roof disappeared. Something hit her. No, the seat had ejected and she was flying. Spinning through the air. Through dizzy gray sky. And smoke.
And Hank was nowhere to be seen.
What kind of guy writes romance? A guy who married his high school sweetheart a week after graduation and still lives the HEA decades later. A guy who’s a certifiable Harlequin hero—he inspired Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Rita Award finalist Mr. Valentine, which is dedicated to him.
Ed started out writing contemporary romances for Silhouette Books, but these days he concentrates on science fiction romance. He’s been a teacher, principal, technical writer, salesman, janitor, and symphonic oboist. He and wife Judi live in Tucson, Arizona. They have three sons, a daughter, a mutt, and the galaxy’s most adorable grandson. Visit him at http://eahoornaert.com.
Buy links for Escapee: