I’ve decided to change up these weekly snippets and go through my backlist, sharing the first meeting between the two main characters in each book. It’s always fun for me to revisit the books and I hope it will be for you too! Or if you’ve never happened to read a certain book, maybe I can entice you into giving it a try.
WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM was my first published scifi romance and the only one with no bedroom scenes. It’s a “Titanic in space” adventure and if you’re on a dying ship, there’s no time to spare! But Nick and Mara do fall in the love over the course of their ordeal…Many people have told me this was the first book of mine they ever read.
The excerpt, set in the casino aboard the Nebula Dream luxury spaceliner:
The businesswoman from the shuttle was playing one of the machines and appeared to be having quite a bit of luck, judging by the pile of golden credits in the tray. Nick walked over to the machine next to hers and began playing.
“That one’s cold, Captain,” she said, not breaking her concentration on the whirling holograms.
“I beg your pardon?” Not expecting her to make the first move, he’d been racking his brain what to say. Ballsy, takes the initiative all right – I like it.
Tilting her head, she gave him the radiant smile that had caught his attention on the shuttle, when she was playing with the children. “I said, it’s cold. Wasted most of my free credits there first, before I moved over one machine.” A slight frown creased her high forehead as he remained silent. Eyes narrowed, she studied him more closely. “You are the man from the shuttle yesterday afternoon, aren’t you? The one who saved that poor woman’s life?”
“Yes, I’m Nick Jameson, Special Forces.” Nick swore at himself. Something about this woman reduced him to tongue-tied stammering. Taking a calming breath, he referred to her comments about the events on the shuttle. “I don’t know about saving the lady’s life, though.” He rejected any claim to heroism, with his customary modest honesty. “Her dagger wasn’t exactly a serious weapon. I was more concerned she’d get the hatch door open somehow. You’re –”
“Well, I thought you were incredibly brave,” she answered with a smile. Tossing her beautiful hair, which tonight was a luxurious cascade of curls held off the perfect oval of her face by a blue band matching her evening gown, she extended a shapely hand. “I’m Mara Lyrae.”
They shook hands, Nick taking note that she wore no rings, although in this day and age, that didn’t necessarily mean anything about a person’s availability. It was encouraging, considering she’d remembered him from the shuttle. She had a firm, no-nonsense handshake.
The next minute he realized with a pang of dismay she was opening her embroidered evening purse.
Please don’t let her hand me a business card, brush me off.
But instead Mara was gathering up her credits, sweeping them into the elaborate purse, obviously preparing to leave. “Here, you can take over this machine, if you’d like,” was her only offer. She slid off her stool, smoothing the folds of her closely fitted evening gown. It was low cut but elegant, leaving her glowingly tanned shoulders bare.
Neither the dress nor the woman needs any further embellishment.
“Well, I’m not actually much of a gambler,” Nick said, glancing briefly, with no pretense of interest, at the slot machine she was vacating. “I was thinking it might be nice to go grab a bite to eat, some dinner? Would you care to –?”
“Oh, I am sorry,” she said, so sweetly he almost believed she was actually regretful, rather than merely polite. “I already have an engagement for the evening, Captain. Some other time?”
“Yeah, well, whatever. I’ll – I’ll call you.”
“Please do. I might be free in a few days,” she invited over her shoulder, with one last smile, as she stepped off into the crowd. “Good evening and good luck! It’s a hot machine, I promise – or at least it has been for the last hour.”
“Oh, well, thank you.” Nick wasn’t a fan of losing credits to holo slots, but he didn’t want to offend her. He inserted one of his casino tokens in the slot, opened his mouth to say something further to her, but she’d already gone, hidden by the crowd. Her perfume lingered subtly behind, crisp, like her – faintly spicy and with a hint of some sultry floral tone. More memorable than any other woman I’ve ever met. The machine went cold with her departure, taking all he’d won at roulette and then more.
Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.
All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.
But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?
VS: I wrote two sequels to the novel, following what happened to various survivors after the wreck. I did a lot of research on survivors of the actual Titanic disaster and how their lives went on.