No Strings Attached

 
Whispers on the Wind by Judy Gill
(Love Spell, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-505-52435-X
***
“The aliens are coming! The aliens are coming!” is a line designed to strike terror into the hearts of the masses, but if the aliens are going to look like the bare-chested hunk gracing the cover of this futuristic romance, there are worse fates that could befall us.

Lenore Henning awakens from one doozy of an erotic dream to find her dream lover gone. Suffering from burn-out from her high-stress job as an accountant fifty years in the future, she is taking a period of enforced rest at a cabin high in the Canadian Rockies where she is experiencing dreams and fantasies, each one more vivid than the last, of a lover Jon who calls her to come to him. She becomes convinced that he is badly injured and in need of her help and goes in search of him.

Jonallo was injured when his Octad (group of eight) scattered when translating from their home on Aazonia (“a time and space not here not now”) to Earth. He needs to draw on the strength of another to heal himself, and Lenore’s mind is particularly receptive to his mental messages. Lenore is initially skeptical of Jon’s assertions of his alien origins, but she becomes convinced when she sees him heal before her eyes.

The Octad has come to Earth in search of Zenna, Jon’s birth-mate (twin). She has disappeared with an important piece of equipment and seems to be in the company of Rankin, an evil character whose goal is his world’s domination. It is essential that the Octad be reunited because with any fewer than eight members they cannot translate back to Aazonia when the window of opportunity closes in a few short weeks. Lenore agrees to help Jon find the other members. She has also been having dreams of a woman and little girl. Are these of Zenna?

As Jon and Lenore spend time together in the search, the dream attraction becomes physically real. But can there be any future for lovers who will soon be separated and literally be worlds apart?

The success of any work of fiction - futuristic or otherwise - depends on the reader’s being able to willingly suspend her disbelief and accept the narrative as plausible. While many futuristic romances take place on different worlds, Whispers on the Wind brings another world to Earth in the not-too-distant future. The explanation of different culture and capabilities is clear enough that readers are unlikely to be confused by the hows and whys. On the other hand, it never becomes so realistically convincing that readers can cross that last mental bridge between disbelief and conviction. In fact, several times I found myself thinking a particular section was pretty silly. A book may be acceptable in terms of plot and characters, but without that extra measure of believability, it’s not one I can recommend.

The story line sometimes suffers from a lack of direction. First, there’s the question of the source of Lenore’s dreams and whether Jon’s only a figment of her overactive imagination and her resulting search. Once she finds him, however, the plot scatters in several directions - Jon’s adapting to Earth customs, the location of the various members of the Octad, Zenna’s location, the identity of the little girl, the machinations of the evil Rankin, questions about Lenore’s own origins. Finally, the story brings the relationship of Lenore and Jon back into the main focus. With a more cohesive plot line, this might be a more intriguing story.

On a final note: I have given this book a PG-13 rating, but that may be misleading. For a good part of the story, nothing happens between Lenore and Jon, but when they finally get serious, the love scenes are hot. Averaging the G and R sections, I came up with a PG-13 rating, but be warned that it doesn’t really represent the book’s level of sensuality.

--Lesley Dunlap


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