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Review: Once Upon a Galactic Time By N.D. Shar

Okay, so I just recently finished the audiobook for Once Upon a Galactic Time as narrated by Abby Craden and it was a fabulous romp. Of course, Abby Craden was fabulous as the narrator as always, but this review is about the content of the book.

As an author and a self-published one, I tend to look for books whose stories excite me. As a lesbian reader, I like a good story that draws me in and appeals to my rather flight-of-fantasy mindset. It's part of why I write in the Urban Fantasy genre for lesbian audiences. I wanted to read a good Urban Fantasy that wasn't just another romance novel, and I wanted it to feature characters that I found relatable. I wrote the books I most wanted to read with the Cait Reagan series.

So, it's probably no surprise that I search for these kinds of books to satisfy my itch for a good story with a bit of romance. But I enjoy a good fantasy or sci-fi story that features lesbian characters, especially those that just plain kick-ass, especially if the story carries me off to some distant world, and the writing keeps me there.

So, I was thrilled to find it in N.D. Shar's novel Once Upon a Galactic Time.

The story follows the adventures of Storm "Red" Redfield, a US Special Forces Operator who finds herself awakened a hundred years after being frozen, or "put down," by the US Military as part of an illicit experiment. Gone is the world she knew of countries, petty squabbling for resources, and humans dithering over how people identify or whom they love. Not gone, though, in a galaxy full of civilizations are the problems of politics, intrigue, and war. And we get our first taste of this early in the book as Red is invited to assist in a rescue mission by those who delivered her from her frosty purgatory.

What follows is an earthwoman's view of a new and exciting galaxy full of colorful species, new technology, and a new kind of warfare where being blown out into space is a real possibility, laser weapons are quite real, but sometimes the trusty trench knife is all you really need.

Encapsulated within this backdrop is a budding relationship between Red and one of her fellow squadmates, Stella, a black-skinned humanoid of incredible beauty, grace, and ferocity from the planet Antalos whose combat skills are only exceeded by her insufferable arrogance that serves to both challenge Red and entice her.

That alone would have made this book a fine romance all on its own, but there was a story of depth within the pages of Once Upon a Galactic Time that I found refreshing. The scenes of combat were engaging and well-written. The tension among Red's crew had a realness to it, whether it was the camaraderie of their Cyclopian leader, Bryn, the constant grousing of Red's buddy Sanchez, or the no-nonsense attitude that made the fabulous Stella who she was.

The writing was solid, and the adventure engaging. I wasn't at all bothered by the ease with which Red settled into a new era, given that she's a sophisticated woman and yet still most comfortable when she's got a weapon in her hand.

And though there were some continuity issues that gave me moments of pause, such as the sound echoing in the abandoned ship that was supposedly devoid of atmosphere, they were easily overlooked for what turned out to be a wonderful romp through space with two kick-ass women whose attraction and competitiveness were both undeniable, even as the latter fueled the former.

In simplest terms, though, when I finished the book, all I could say was, 'I wanna crew with Red and Stella.'

N.D. Shar is a nom de plume of Natalie Debrabandere

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