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Review: Paradise 21 by Aubrie Dionne

Paradise 21 (A New Dawn #1) by Aubrie Dionne
Scifi Romance, Dystopian
Paperback $14.99 (247 pages, ENTANGLED PUBLISHING)
Ebook $6.99

Aries has lived her entire life aboard mankind's last hope, the New Dawn, a spaceship traveling toward a planet where mankind can begin anew- a planet that won't be reached in Aries' lifetime. As one of the last genetically desirable women in the universe,she must marry her designated genetic match and produce the next generation for this centuries long voyage.
But Aries has other plans.
When her desperate escape from the New Dawn strands her on a desert planet, Aries discovers rumors about pirates - humans who have escaped her before its demise - are true. Handsome, genetically imperfect Striker possess the freedom Aries' envies, and the two connect on a level she never thought possible. But pursued by her match from above and hunted by the planet's native inhabitants, Aries quickly learns freedom will come at a hefty price.
The life of the man she loves.

Author Site: authoraubrie.com

A Cauldron of Space Opera Seasoned with Dystopian Romance (4 stars)

The New Dawn is on a mission. A mission to carry the human race from their dead Earth to a new world suitable for a new beginning. Generations have lived and died aboard the ship and most will not live to see Paradise 21. It is the purpose of those who live aboard to continue the species through carefully computer chosen espousement and breeding. Passing on genetic code from parents to children is the primary purpose of the New Dawn's current inhabitants. But Aries doesn't want the man chosen for her.

In a desperate attempt to flee the husband chosen for her by the Guide she flees in an escape pod landing upon a desert planet known as Sahara 354. It's only a matter of time before her husband-to-be demands the New Dawn hault its progress to bring her back. With very little to sustain her and no idea where she can truly hide from her match she comes upon a man, a human man, without the genetic refinement of generations of selective breeding. A man known as Striker who has been marooned by his former lover. Together they discover a way off Sahara 354 and a love that defies the Guide's mandated match for Aries. But when her fiance finds her and Striker's own past attempts to break them apart a galaxy's worth of adventure is in store if they are ever to find their happy ending.

Oh scifi romance, how do I love thee? Peppered with lots of cool aliens and rogue-ish menfolk. Thank the maker because PARADISE 21 has a good sampling of both. It's a little bit Star Wars and a tiny bit dystopian. The very idea of a giant spaceship filled with people who know they'll never see the new world is a bit depressing. It's not hard to understand why Aries might want more, why she'd be willing to take her fate into her own hands. Then the more screentime her betrothed gets the more you WANT her to run.

I'm a total geek for alien races in scifi romances (Cheryl Brooks I am looking at you!) and was so pleased that Dionne made a point to show the natives of Sahara 354 as well as a second race I don't want to get spoilery about. It really added an element I NEED to love a space opera-y romance.

Strangely enough the only thing I didn't really care for here was the actual romance. I kind of felt like it was a romance of convinience. I know, I know that sounds bad. But think about it... Aries lands on a planet where there's only one other human, he happens to be male and she happens to fall for him and he for her all in a matter of a couple of days...? Enh, I guess it beat the alternative but still. That kind of softened the chance I'd love the story for the romance aspect. Even still as a science fiction space adventure with a romance it was alright.

On the whole it was pretty good if you like both a storyline and romance. Secondary characters do get a lot of screen time, sometimes without the hero or heroine being directly involved so there's potential set-up for sequels. I liked PARADISE 21 a lot but couldn't quite say I loved it. Neither Aries nor Striker felt really special or original and their romance wasn't quite as hard won (emotionally) as I would have liked but it was an enjoyable read. Recommended for scifi romance fans who don't want an overload of love scenes and like secondary characters to be well developed.

Other Reviews:
I Heart Reading
Bewitched Bookworms

Notes: ARC received via NetGalley/Publisher.

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