Riding the Odds by Lynda K. Scott
**I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review**
4 ½ stars!
When Spaceship Captain Tara Rowan first meets writer Trace Monroe, she immediately feels a spark of attraction. But she can tell he is hiding something, especially seeing as trust is not something Tara Rowan gives easily. In a competitive business of hauling cargo through space, Tara has an advantage that few others have – she has a “rider” named Zie, an organic symbiote—like a living tattoo—that enhances Tara’s physical abilities and gives her flight benefits. Not only that, but Zie is an illegal wild born rider, not a legal bred one. Zie has protected Tara for years and helped her to get herself straight in the face of diversity after her parents were killed from the Risien Plague that killed many other as well.
In efforts to protect herself and Zie, she never has gotten into relationships or close to anyone, finding that simply having Zie is enough as her companion. But Trace stirs something frightening and wonderful inside of both Zie and Tara – something she is willing to run the other way from…far, far away from him. Only Trace isn’t willing to give up so easily – he’s looking for his missing sister, the Princess of Empyrea, Katerina (Trace was adopted by the King and Queen upon his father’s untimely death, also from the Plague) – and through his research, he’s learned that Tara is linked to Jackson Brown, a known pirate. He will stop at nothing to join Tara on her ship and investigate what she knows and how he can get close to Jackson – even if it means lying to Tara. Unfortunately for them both, the pilot has been lit, and going through several live or death situations together ignites a powerful flame. But can they get past each other’s indiscretions and be together, or are their other forces that will tear them apart?
First off, I just loved Zie – her child-like look on situations is refreshing and seems to help guide Tara’s moral compass. They are dependent on each other for everything – from food to protection, but you can feel the love they have for each other as well. And Zie is a great judge of character – when she first meets Trace, he tells Tara he’s pretty…not that Tara disagrees. Then there is Tara herself, whom is strong, smart, and very resourceful. While she doesn’t easily trust, once she does she is so with wild ferocity – as she does with Jackson. Trace is not only a beautiful specimen of a male, but he loves his adopted family – not because of their position in life, but because they always treated him as their own. So when you add two strong personalities together, add some heat, and sparks are going to be flying – lighting everything in their path on fire! I really enjoyed the story – it was a relatively quick read and did throw out some surprises and twists along the way. Strong characters, strong relationships, and mostly-strong story = good sci-fi YA read with a little steam to wind down (or UP) any evening!