An all-new, stand-alone tale of two improbable lovers, their daring secret,
and the gamble destined to alter the course of their worlds forever!
The Champion of Barésh
Star World Frontier #1
Star World Frontier #1
By: Susan Grant
Released May 26, 2016
RITA-winner Susan Grant is back with an all-new, stand-alone tale of two improbable lovers, their daring secret, and the gamble destined to alter the course of their worlds forever!
She was playing with fire...
Jemm Aves battles to keep her dreams alive on a dead-end world. Working for the mines by day, she’s a successful bajha player at night, disguised as a male to be allowed to compete in the colony’s dangerous underworld where club owners will go to extremes to retain the best players. Every win puts her one small step closer to her goal: saving enough to escape Barésh with her family. When a nobleman from one of the galaxy’s elite families recruits her to be a star player for his team, it's because he doesn't know her secret. Her ruse proves to be her most perilous game yet when it puts both their lives—and her heart—at risk.
Prince Charming he was not...
Prince Klark is eager to reverse his reputation as the black sheep of the Vedla clan, a family as famous for its wealth and power as it is for being a bastion of male-dominated tradition. If his bajha team can win the galactic title it would go a long way toward restoring the family honor that his misdeeds tarnished. He travels to Barésh to track down an amateur who’s risen to the top of the seedy world of street bajha, offering the commoner a chance of a lifetime: a way off that reeking space rock for good. But his new player comes with a scandalous secret that turns his plans and his beliefs upside down. He sets out to win a very different prize—his champion’s reluctant heart.
Sir Vedla reached for her hand and pulled her to her feet. His golden eyes were as warm as dome-rise on the badlands. “You think I’m sending you home without an offer?” he purred in his smooth brogue.
She tugged off her helmet and tried to make sense of the bewilderment in his eyes. “I know the kind of players ya need for your team. I’m flattered ya thought I had a chance, though.”
“I have every intention of inviting you to play for Team Eireya, Kes. I thought that much was obvious.”
It took every ounce of restraint not to let loose and scream. “You do?”
“Of course! I could not be more pleased. You played an excellent match—against my best player. In fact, for a moment there at the end I thought you had him. It had me on the edge of my seat. Oh, and when you slapped him back…” Sir Vedla clapped his hands. “Bravo.”
Skeet laughed. “Whose side are you on, sir?” he pretended to complain.
“Your first time with regulation rules, too. It could not have gone better. You exceeded every expectation. Well done, Kes. Truly. Well done.”It was a blur after that, the genuine congratulations and pats on the back from the two pros, the thanks from members of the crew who had stayed for the entertainment, all while so many thoughts tumbled through her head. Would she train here? Or, away? If it was away, she would have to tell her supervisor. They would fire her, of course, and her feelings on that were a jumble of relief and nerves. What about Ma and Button? What would she tell them? How long before she would be able to have them join her? And Nico… She loved her brother but if he had access to all the money she would be paid while she was gone, well, he could be a wee bit too free-spending. She would need to make arrangements with Sir Vedla to make sure the family had what it needed while she was away. She would ask him to leave out a percentage so Nico did not have access to all of it, and go off knowing that her family was taken care of until they were reunited.
She was so immersed in her thoughts that she did not realize she had followed the men into the locker room until Xirri started shrugging off his boots and bajha suit, and then his underclothing as he walked, bare-bottomed to the showers. All three men had been exercising most of the day and now were eager to clean up for dinner.
“You’re probably hungry,” she heard the Vash say. He was stripping off his clothing also.
“I’m hungry, aye.” As much as she wanted to take advantage of her disguise to see how closely he measured up to her preconceived notions, she didn’t take a gander. She was better than that. Wasn’t she? She pretended to adjust the strap of her gear bag that she had dropped onto a bench made from a slab of polished real tree wood.
“Help yourself to the showers, then. Afterward, we will dine and discuss the rest of the details.”
She nodded, not trusting her voice, and unzipped her bag to fetch her towel. It was covered in Nico’s dried blood. She yanked the zipper closed before anyone noticed.
The sound of bare feet padding on the soft floor circled around to her. The Vash was naked—to the waist, she realized with a peek lower, and he was incredible: lean and muscled, broad in shoulder and chest, narrowing to tight hips and a skin-tight pair of black undershorts leaving hopelessly little to the imagination.
She had used less effort moving a canister weighed down with ore than it took to drag her eyes from that body.
Q & A with Susan Grant
What books/authors have influenced your writing?
When I first started writing, it was Catherine Asaro’s Skolian Empire series and Susan Elisabeth Phillips’s books. I have loved Kristin Hannah’s stories, especially her early paranormals. Recently, Hugh Howey’s Silo series and Paullina Simmons. I also tend to love quirky literary SF novels like Station Eleven and The Age of Miracles, and epic apocalyptic tales like Lucifer’s Hammer. But I read so widely that the influence is also wide. On the other hand, I’m a slow reader and am very picky. I probably get to a lot less books than most.
What’s you next project?
Now that I’m indie, I’m having the time of my life writing because I can go in any direction I want. I’m working on a short for a fun project with some of the other authors from the Sci-Fi Romance Brigade. The collection is called Pets in Space, and that pretty much sums up the stories. Mine will take place in the Star Series/Star World Frontier world, a royal alien, a commoner Earthling, and the pet who brings them together. I’m also working on the next Star World Frontier book, and also the first installment in an alien abduction trilogy. Very exciting.
Your favorite book by you or another author
My favorite book by me is The Champion of Barésh. I’m proud of how it came out, and loved the characters and their world. If readers can be patient, the story will reward them with many emotions. Save the book for when you’re in the mood for an immersive experience with your favorite beverage and a comfy chair. My current favorite by another author is...okay, have to pick just one...the Silo series by Hugh Howey.
Have you ever had one character you wanted to go one way with but after the book was done the character was totally different.
Ha. Yes. My characters get a lot of say in my stories. They can be quite helpful. We hang out together all day and create. But every once in a while one will flat-out surprise me. For instance, Uncle Yul in The Champion of Barésh. That’s all I’ll say. :)
When you are in writer mode, music or no music? If music, do you have a playlist
My stories incubate in my head. That’s when I love to listen to music. It inspires me. Each book has had its own playlist. I’ve wanted to list the songs on my website to add to the reader experience, but have not yet had the time to do that. When I’m writing, the actual typing part, no, no music. Sometimes BrainFM, though, if I’m distracted, or a dog is barking and annoying me.
Who was your favorite hero/heroine?
That’s like asking a mom to pick her favorite child! I love them all! But, okay, I’ll play. The heroine is a tie between Brit Bandar from Moonstruck and Jemm Aves from The Champion of Barésh. My favorite hero is a tie between Finn Rorkken from Moonstruck and Ché Vedla from The Star Princess.
Susan Grant is a New York Times bestselling author who enjoys being able to indulge her love of travel and adventure by piloting jumbo jets around the globe. Her careers as a commercial pilot and air force pilot have provided endless inspiration for her books. Susan is the author of The Star King, launch book of her popular Star series about a spacefaring Earth family, as well as the RITA-winning novel Contact. Her new series debuts in 2016 with The Champion of Barésh. Susan and her family live in the scenic foothills of northern California.
Love to arm-chair travel? Sit down, strap in, and visit Susan's Come Fly With Me blog at her website
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