Title: Caught in Amber
Author: Cathy Pegau
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Sci/fi fantasy romance
Caught in Amber is a sci/fi, urban fantasy style romance that makes a powerful statement about drug addiction and the drug trade in general. For me, this sets it apart from many others of the genre. It gives it a depth that is often lacking in popular fiction. At the same time, it has everything you would expect from the genre, passion, action, a courageous heroine, a gorgeous hero and a life or death climax.
If you’re not into sci/ fi or fantasy don’t let that put you off, because if you took away the high tech and the fact that the story is set on another planet in a future time this would be contemporary romance with a strong storyline.
The drug in question is called Amber, but it could be heroin, or any other highly addictive drug. Sasha is a reformed addict, eight months out of a correctional facility. She has a correctional services monitoring chip in her neck and has to report weekly for urine testing. The chip also has nano bots that help stop the craving for Amber. She’s been doing well, not tempted by the dealers who hover outside the special correctional services units where she lives, and she is determined to remain clean. She’s not proud of her past and never wants to see Guy again – the drug magnate she was in love with, and the one that got her addicted before he threw her out and never came to see her in prison.
Enter Nate Sterling, an agent of the equivalent of the CIA, but he’s not on a department sanctioned job; he’s on personal business. His sister, Kylie is working for Guy and likely caught in Amber as Sasha was. He wants her to introduce him to Guy as someone with a business proposition so he can get inside the operation and get his sister out. Why would Sasha go back and put herself in danger, not just from Guy’s affections, but from the lure of Amber? The answer is that Nate can deactivate her chip and, for that, she’s willing to risk it, because it means she can start afresh, a life without correctional services tracing her every move.
Of course, all does not go quite according to plan. Sasha was supposed to introduce them and then be done with it, but Guy is still in love with her and he’s not going to work with Nate without Sasha there. As soon as she walks into the club he owns, she smells the Amber dust, sees the look on the faces of those using it and fights back memories of the embarrassing things she did to get enough Amber to feed her addiction. It takes a lot of strength for her to walk away. She wonders if she could have done it without the help of the chip that helps stop the cravings.
On top of that, Nate and Sasha have a tangible attraction to each other, something he fights because he doesn’t want to jeopardise the operation, and she fights because she knows he will walk away as soon as he gets Kylie out. After all, what would a nice guy like him want with a girl liked her? Getting involved will only cause her pain, and Nate, being a really nice guy, doesn’t want to take any more advantage of her than he’s already doing.
Caught in Amber makes the consequences of the drug trade clear; it hurts people, big time, and is run by people who don’t give a damn. All they want is money. The difference between Nate, a good old fashioned guy with manners who really does care about people, and Guy, who is only concerned for himself, couldn’t be greater. All the money in the world couldn’t make Guy as attractive as Nate.
This is the best kind of urban fantasy. I highly recommend it. 5 stars.
Heat rating – there’s one hot scene, nicely written and not overdone.