REVIEW: The Solstice Pudding by Angel Martinez

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It’s the perfect Solstice present, even if it’s slightly illegal.

Chief Engineer Shandi Leavenworth has been crushing on Major Tyra Sur ever since she joined station staff, though the laconic customs officer doesn’t give up personal information easily. A few scraps of information leads Shandi to the perfect Solstice present, until of course everything goes horribly wrong.

Major Sur took the job on Onwa Station for the stability, the quiet, and out of a need to be useful. It’s been all of those things up until the woman she’s been quietly flirting with at the bar puts in a desperate call for help. There’s no question they need to save the station, but Tyra’s not so sure about saving their budding relationship.

Dear Ms. Martinez,

Catching up with the Pudding Protocol Universe again for another Solstice book. Well, kinda as Solstice is the reason that Shandi wants to get a fellow space habitat worker a gift but the gift is what takes up the majority of the story rather than the holiday.

As with “Safety Protocols for Human Holidays,” we’re in a universe of multispecies space. This time the action takes place aboard a space habitat. Shandi has been trying to get to know Tyra but that woman is not a party animal. In fact, Tyra might be wonderfully competent in her job and had been awarded medals for saving a ship while she was a Marine but Tyra doesn’t easily do “social.” When in company she feels that “words run off where I can’t find them.” Shandi’s idea is to get Tyra a pet for Solstice but as Tyra is part of the department that clears all incoming life forms and Shandi wants this to be a surprise, she, um, goes a bit unauthorized and that leads to things going sideways. 

I happily dove into this world with lots of different species who cohabitate. Each is described a little and given some distinctive characteristics. Pronouns are inquired about and friendships abound. These beings really seem to care about each other. All is not perfect as Tyra has actual reasons beyond her innate reserve for screwing up the relationship that Shandi seems to be starting. The reason is because of what Tyra’s last committed partner did to save a ship of people. And eventually when Tyra and Shandi take a chance, the kisses don’t start perfectly and the sex is fumbled a bit but in the end, all is well.   

As I said, most of the action centers on the pet that Shandi (illegally) gets for Tyra. Described as an ussi the little blob of black fur with black eyes and three sets of legs sounds adorable. Ah-dorable. It nomnomnoms on kale chips and … doubles in size. Hmmm, the guy Shandi bought it from didn’t say anything about that. Then it doubles again and then things get out of control. But Shandi’s friend and Tyra’s colleagues spring into action and try to contain a ravenous beast with a taste for food and hats. 

There’s some protocol to getting the creature – which can ooze a bit in shape and thus is called a “pudding” – under control and when all is said and done, Tyra does get her pet and a second chance at a relationship. This is a bit quick and I would have liked to have seen more of a balance between the ussi wrangling and the romance though. But we do get to see Tyra being supremely competent while they capture the critter. B-


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Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 25 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there’s no TSTL characters and is currently reading more fantasy and SciFi.

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