The Company Man (Red Dragon #1) by Becky Black

The Company ManWhy I read it:  I saw some good reviews and it was on special at LooseID so I bought it.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Jarvez Kashari travels light, sacrificing relationships for ambition. Alyn Evans is out to establish himself as a company captain. Falling in love was not part of either man’s plans.

The Red Dragon is a ship in trouble. It was once the pride of the Outer Spiral Trading Company’s fleet, but is neglected and fallen from its old glory. It’s a ship in need of love – and a new captain.

Alyn Evans is a man in need of a new challenge. He’s an ex-warship captain and peace has put him out of a job. A man of his experience should have no trouble commanding a merchant ship…he thinks. But of all the challenges he faces on his first trip out, the hardest one is keeping his hands off his gorgeous and fascinating company rep, Jarvez Kashari.

Jarvez Kashari is a man with a plan. He’s determined to make a name as the company’s best trader and thinks reviving the fortunes of the Red Dragon is the perfect opportunity to prove himself. Jarvez travels light, sacrificing personal relationships to focus on his ambitions – until he meets Alyn Evans. Falling in love was not part of the plan.

It’s four months to Earth. Four months for Alyn to juggle passengers, prisoners, suspicious officers, a resentful crew and the intensifying relationship with Jarvez. Four months in space with a traitor aboard…

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I don’t have tons of experience with science-fiction/space opera – although I adore the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold.  That kind of world building is not present here – in part because it is a relatively short book (as compared to say, Shards of Honor) and in part because it is firstly a romance IMO.  (Shards of Honor is primarily a sci-fi book which a romantic element.) My husband and I still grieve over the loss of Firefly and enjoy various sci-fi tv shows, so it’s not a wonder that I’m interested in combining my love or romance with sci-fi.  I was prepared for the world building to be less developed here – it’s a trade off I don’t mind making for a satisfying romance but there were a couple of things I found jarring.  I don’t know whether it is a quirk of mine or reflective of my inexperience with the genre but it was kind of strange to see Earth being apparently the same as it is now except for adding hyperspace travel.  There are still countries – Jarvez’ family is from Iran, Alyn is from Wales, one of the other officers is from France, smuggler is from Australia (of course, because: convicts *rolls eyes*).  While I enjoyed the multiculturality (I know that’s not a real word) of the cast (and how aspects of those things were woven (mostly) skilfully into the characterisations), I haven’t come across future Earth being described quite that way before. Usually, it is a colony or planet where the racial identity is “human” for example.  I found it harder to imagine space travel hundreds of light years away and humans born on Mars right along with the kind of everyday Earth I know now.    I don’t suppose, when I think about it, it is any more unrealistic than any other sci-fi I’ve read, but there you are.

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