‘Saving Grace’ by Merry Farmer is the first book in the ‘Grace’s Moon’ series. Grace Hargrove and her companions crashland on a moon, light-years away from their destination. With limited resources and only thirty-eight survivors, Grace immediately sets out to search for other landing sites, using the smoke on the horizon as a beacon. They find two other groups, but neither is interested in joining forces to make the best of a bad situation. The Terra Project ended with the explosion that jettisoned the emergency ships. The moon they have landed on is temperate and hospitable, however. Grace believes that together, they can secure their future. They are colonists, after all.
The other two groups are led by very determined men. Kinn and his men and women have been in place for two months. Their emergency ship took a more direct course. Their settlement is organised and well-prepared for the eventual winter. Kinn’s militaristic manner and the way he leers at Grace is off-putting, though, and he adamantly refuses to combine groups. The third group is under the control of convicted saboteur, Brian Kutrosky. Though not as well placed and supplied, Kutrosky shares Kinn’s feelings on the subject of combining their efforts. Failing to understand the attitude of either man, Grace turns her efforts toward ensuring her own people are settled, housed and preparing for life on the moon.
After a couple of months, Kinn approaches Grace with a request. His men are restless and there are not enough women to go around. The ratio of women to men in Kutrosky’s is two to one. He wants to ‘liberate’ the extra women to take back to his settlement. Grace suggests a non-violent solution: she will attempt to bargain with Kutrosky. Her attempt fails and his refusal sparks the smouldering conflict that has existed between all three camps since the beginning.
Interspersed with the present are chapters from the past which provide a little background on the lead characters, the Terra Project and the possible cause of the explosion of the Ark Ship that left them all stranded on the moon. The novel ends with Grace making a choice that will obviously direct the events of the next chapter of the saga.
I’m not a fan of cliff-hanger endings. Tacked on to the end of a complete story by way of epilogue, they can serve as suitable enticement to pick up the next book. A compelling plotline shouldn’t need such tricks, however, not in my opinion. ‘Saving Grace’ does have a good plot going for it. There is the question of sabotage – who and why – and the question of survival on the moon. Personality conflicts abound and more than one man makes a bid for Grace’s affections. Not all of them are polite about it. The colonisation effort is shadowed by the disaster, the disparate factions and urgency born of humanity’s innate will to survive.
For a single novel, however, too much information is withheld or perhaps not presented convincingly. Over and over, I wondered why Grace was in charge. Why everyone treated her with such respect, why no one really fought to take the reins from her naïve hands. She foundered, over and over, and she refused to see things that were right before her eyes. She had to be goaded into action and, when presented with a choice, chose poorly. As a heroine, she failed to inspire confidence in me, which is a shame, as I really liked the concept of the book and the surrounding mystery definitely caught my interest.
For those of you who like a plot that develops more slowly, ‘Saving Grace’ might be the book for you. Perhaps Grace will grow a backbone and prove herself. The mystery surrounding the crash, the setting, hints of genetic manipulation and the question of survival are all great elements that should make for a compelling story moving forward. Book two, ‘Fallen From Grace’, is already available.
(pub: Amazon Digital Services. 306 page ebook. Price: $ 4.99 (US), £ 3.01 (UK). ASIN: B00LSPP5CE)
check out website: http://merryfarmer.net/