Today I’m part of the Unchained Memory blog tour, hosted by INK’d Press! I had the best time reading this book, and you can read my review below. First, here’s a little about the story:
Unchained Memory (Book #1 of The Interstellar Rescue series)
by Donna S. Frelick
Genre: Science fiction romance
Publisher: INK’d Press
Release date: February 24 2015
Three hours ripped away her past. His love promised her the future.
From the night she wakes up in her pickup on the side of the road, three hours gone and everything of value lost to her, Asia Burdette is caught in a clash of invisible forces. She has only one ally in her struggle to understand why-Ethan Roberts, a man she shouldn’t love, a psychiatrist who risks everything to help her.
With black ops kidnappers dogging their trail, the lovers race to navigate a maze of mind control, alien abduction, and interstellar slavery. If they keep following the signs, they’ll find a battle that’s been raging since the first silver saucer was spotted in the skies above Earth.
The nitty-gritty: A delicious combination of hot romance and a pulse-pounding science fiction conspiracy story.
I was hesitant at first to read something from a publisher I’m unfamiliar with, but I’m so glad I agreed to read Unchained Memory. It really was a fun read, and while I knew it was a romance going in, I was not expecting the level of heat that Frelick brings to the pages! If you do love romance, and even better, if you love science fiction, then you’ll appreciate the satisfying combination of the two.
It’s very hard to summarize the story without spoiling it, but I’ll give you the general set-up, which will hopefully entice you into reading the book to fill in the missing pieces. Asia Burdette is a woman in pain, even though three years have gone by since the tragedy that took her three young children away from her. One night, after leaving a bar and driving home, Asia mysteriously wakes up in her car on the side of the road, and realizes she’s lost three hours of her life. When she rushes home to her children and the babysitter that was watching them, she finds her home engulfed in flames. All three children, as well as the babysitter, have perished in the fire, and Asia’s life is changed forever.
Fast forward three years later. Asia has been seeing a therapist, Dr. Claussen, who has been working with her to try to regain her missing memories. Dr. Claussen decides he’s done as much as he can for her, and so he turns her case over to his associate, Ethan Roberts, who is “famous” for trying to help people who think they have been abducted by aliens. Ethan and Asia are immediately attracted to each other, but Ethan knows he must maintain a professional distance from Asia, as he delves further into her confusion about the missing three hours. Under a type of hypnosis, Asia starts to have strange memories about being a prisoner who is forced into hard labor and has to fight for food.
As Ethan and Asia puzzle over the things she reveals under hypnosis, clues begin to emerge about what really happened to Asia during her missing time, and they realize that neither one of them is safe anymore. On the run from faceless enemies that want to capture Asia, the two begin a journey that will not only bring them closer together, but will finally give Asia the answers she’s been looking for.
Frelick combines the ideas of alien abduction theory and human trafficking and turns them into a plausible and exciting story. My favorite part of Unchained Memory was definitely the mystery surrounding Asia’s strange memories. Frelick does a great job of slowly teasing us with hints and clues, drawing out the suspense as long as she can. Although I knew where things were headed from the blurb (which I think gives a little too much away), it was still a fun ride getting to the end.
Because this is a romance, the growing relationship between Asia and Ethan was no surprise, and even though things heat up pretty quickly—which is what I expect when reading romances for the most part—I thought the author handled it really well. Yes, they fall for each other and hop into bed soon after they meet, and yes, there are scenes where the plot grinds to a halt while they get to know each other better, but then the action picks up again, and the last third of the book races by at a frantic pace as it becomes clear what is going on.
Asia’s “dreams” where she remembers working in a crystal mine were some of my favorite parts of the story. She meets a girl named Dozen who teaches her the ropes about going deep into the mines, and also finds ways to make sure Asia has extra food. Dozen was a brave and lovable character who could easily handle her own storyline, and I hope she’ll make more appearances in future books.
I enjoyed the duo of Ethan and Asia as well. Ethan has scruples and abides by the rule that he isn’t allowed to enter into a relationship with a patient, even though he’s having lusty thoughts about the gorgeous Asia. Both characters have suffered personal tragedy and lived through it, and I like the way they were able to share their painful stories and help each other through the bad times.
What I didn’t care for was the tragedy that Frelick saddles Asia with. The loss of three children in a house fire seemed way over the top to me. I understand the author needed to give her something so terrible that she would need therapy to recover, but it felt senselessly violent, and being a mother myself, I could barely read those parts. I was hoping that by the end of the story we would have learned the truth behind the fire, but we never do. I wanted the fire to be connected to something else in the plot in order for it to make sense (if you can even say that children dying in a fire makes sense at all). But it turned out to be a random event that for me, at least, felt disconnected and unnecessary.
I did love the way Frelick wraps things up at the end, though, with a sense of closure and moving on for both Ethan and Asia. Since this is the first in a planned trilogy, I’m curious to see where the author will take things, because Unchained Memory felt like a complete story to me. Am I curious enough to keep reading the series? Yes, I am. The author barely scratches the surface with the alien abduction plot line, and I can’t wait to see where she takes it from here.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
Final Rating: 7/10
About the author:
Donna Frelick works in the once-small town of Fredericksburg, Virginia, about an hour south of Washington, D.C. When she’s not writing, she teaches tai-chi and Isshinryu karate. For fun she travels when she can, reads, watches movies, and enjoy her family (two great girls–now grown–one Zen master grandson, one diva princess granddaughter, an incredible husband, and two talkative cats). Next year she’ll be doing all her writing at home, a planned intentional community of 43 acres, in the mountains near Asheville, North Carolina.