First published in the Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology…which was a USA Today Best Seller and received two SFR Galaxy Awards in January, but which is no longer available, so I’m issuing my story as a standalone title. The story is exactly as published in the anthology – my Muse doesn’t resonate with revising or adding to a book that’s already in the ‘finished and released’ status.
Here’s what I had to say last Fall in a blog post for Pauline B Jones’s blog, about why I wrote this story:
I love going back to revisit my interstellar cruise liner, the Nebula Dream, for these PISA stories, as the ship cruises through the futuristic human civilization known as The Sectors. I’ve written a number of books and novellas centered on events aboard the ship now and find the whole cruise setup lends itself to telling a good scifi romance adventure tale. Readers new to my world don’t need to know a lot of backstory to enjoy the events, and for those who have read others in the series, it’s a nice return to see some favorite characters (I hope!).
I started with the concept of the pet because that drives my plot for these PISA adventures. For some reason I kept seeing a mental picture of a Siamese cat, but with a third eye. But I’ve done a cat and a catlike alien before, for PISA1, although Midorri, the alien pet there actually is kind of a cross between a red panda and a tribble who acts like a cat. So I wanted something very different and I started thinking about what if the cat wasn’t actually a real animal at all? I ended up making F’rrh a ‘jenfellini’, which is something like a genie, living in a beautiful lacquered box. Visualize the gorgeous painted boxes that come from Russia.
Then, the tenuous link to Russia reminded me of the whole tragic story of the last Tsar and his family, and how they were murdered but for years rumors persisted one of the children might have survived. Various individuals claimed to be ‘Anastasia’ or another of the siblings, and of course there have been movies and plays written with that theme. I always flash back to the version with Yul Brynner (such an intense actor) and Ingrid Bergman because that movie was one of my mother’s favorites and also left the answer to the question of “Is she or is she not Anastasia?” somewhat open at the end. My daughters loved the animated fantasy version of the tale, with the voices of Meg Ryan and John Cusack, when they were growing up.
So I had the heroine – a possible princess on the run – but how could she fit into the Nebula Zephyr? Since the hero would be one of the former Special Forces soldiers who make up the ship’s security force, I had to be able to make the two interact and fall in love in a situation fraught with danger and suspicion.
I’ve wanted to do a story about the Comettes dance troupe which performs aboard the cruise liners since I wrote my very first published scifi romance, Wreck of the Nebula Dream (a sister ship of sorts to the one I write about nowadays). Dancing is a skill a maybe princess might have at a high level, right? So let her be a new member of the dancers….throw in a fabulous jewel and we have the PISA3 story!
The blurb: Tassia Megg is a woman on the run after the death of her elderly guardian. She needs to get off the planet in a hurry when chance directs her to an open dance audition for the luxury cruise liner Nebula Zephyr’s resident troupe. One thing Tassia can do is dance.
Security Officer Liam Austin is suspicious of the newest performer to join the Comettes. She shows all the signs of being a woman on the run and seems to fit the Sectors-wide broadcast description of a missing thief, accused of stealing priceless artifacts. As he gets to know Tassia during the cruise, he starts to wonder if she’s something more – a long vanished princess in hiding from deadly political enemies of her family perhaps?
And what’s the story with the three eyed feline companion other crew members swear Tassia brought aboard the ship? Does the animal even exist?
As the ship approaches its next port of call, all the issues come to a boil and Liam must decide if he’ll step in to help Tassia or betray her. F’rrh the alien cat is the key to the mystery and Tassia’s fate.
A science fiction romance take on the Anastasia tale…
The other four standalone books in this series: