Contact

The Legend of Banzai Maguire

Once a Pirate

The Scarlet Empress

The Star King

The Star Prince

The Star Princess

 
Your Planet or Mine?
by Susan Grant
(HQN, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-373-77106-1
***
Armed with a new publisher after almost a two-year absence, innovative author Susan Grant returns with a sweet, humorous contemporary fantasy romance.† Your Planet or Mine? is lighter than Contact, The Legend of Banzai Maguire and other novels she wrote for Leisure, but it still utilizes that winning combination of strong heroine and out-of-this-world romance.† This isnít my favorite Susan Grant book, but Iím glad to see her back in action.† †

As a child, Jana Jasperís vivid imagination helped her cope with her inexplicable muteness.† Her family members loved and protected her, but Jana couldnít help feeling inferior to the other members of Californiaís so-called first-family.† When Jana was nine, a brief, memorable encounter with a magical, glowing boy who was stuck in the tree outside her bedroom window changed her life.† Suddenly Jana started talking, and once she started she never stopped.† Although her family members dismissed her ďPeter PanĒ tale as another one of Janaís numerous imaginary friends, Jana never forgot him. †

Twenty-three years later, State Senator Jana Jasper is desperately searching for some Phish Food ice cream at the local Safeway to help her forget the scandal that is threatening her familyís political reputation.† A tall, hunky stranger wearing body armor and a helmet accosts her in Aisle 5.† Itís Janaís Peter Pan, very real and very grown up.† Heís traveled across the galaxy to find Jana and warn her that the Coalition, the powerful Space Force that controls thousands of worlds, is planning to annex Earth and move all of its inhabitants to other planets.† Cavin of Far Star, as he introduces himself, is committing treason by warning Jana and her fellow Earthlings, and he also has a bioengineered assassin on his tail who greatly damaged his spaceship.† Heís not concerned with his own well-being, however; he has a plan and wants to save the girl he met so many years ago when he accompanied his father on a scouting expedition.† All she has to do is, to quote the immortal words, ďtake me to your leader.Ē† †

Jana has barely begun to process all of this information when the deadly alien assassin takes a shot at the couple, forcing them to flee for their lives.† Janaís family had advised her to avoid any possible sign of trouble to protect her political career in the face of the brewing scandal, but before she knows it she is stealing and hot-wiring numerous cars, leading the police on a high-speed chase, and realizing that she is still in love with the alleged imaginary friend who certainly feels real when they kiss.† Does she have the courage to stand by Cavinís side and save the Earth?† †

Your Planet or Mine? is cute but not compelling.† Grant mines plenty of humor out of Janaís reaction to discovering a sexy spaceman among the frozen foods, and the heroineís inner dialogue during her adventures is filled with imaginary headlines, each more comically disastrous than the last.† There are moments of tenderness and passion as well, especially during the storyís climactic confrontation, plus the poignancy of realizing that a childhood fantasy came true in the best possible way.† But the intensity that was present in Grantís earlier books, most notably Contact, is lacking here.† Thereís little tension to Jana and Cavinís relationship Ė soon after their reunion, they confess their undying love for each other, and the only unresolved question is when will everyone leave them alone long enough to finally consummate their relationship.† Also there is something just a little bit creepy to me about a man pining away for a woman who was only a 9 year old girl the first and only time that he saw her.† How could he have fantasies about making love to Jana when he didnít even know how she looked as an adult?† †

As with most of Grantís novels, the sci-fi element is less developed than the romance.† Cavin easily adapts to Earth and, thanks to an implant translator, immediately speaks perfect English.† We learn little about life under the Coalition or any cultural differences between Cavin and Janaís worlds.† Thereís a throwaway line about Coalition and Earth humans sharing the same DNA, but wouldnít there be some major disparities that developed after thousands of years of planetary separation?† †

Jana and Cavin are both strong, brave and noble Ė a good match for each other.† While Jana doesnít engage in much literal butt-kicking like most of Grantís other heroines, she knows how to take charge of a difficult situation and hold her own with powerful politicians.† Unfortunately neither character has much depth.† I found myself more interested in the assassin who follows Cavin to Earth.† Although heís definitely a bad guy, he doesnít seem beyond redemption, and his struggle to overcome some rare human emotions is very poignant.† †

Your Planet or Mine is a lot of fun, but itís not Grantís best work.† Her website promises a follow-up novel in 2007 featuring Janaís older brother Jared and Keira, the Coalition Queen.† Considering we learn in this novel that Keira once castrated a man who tried to assault her, it might be a more memorable read.† †

--Susan Scribner


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