Friday, June 28, 2013

BLOG TOUR: Maven by Starla Huchton

We've got a tour stop today that is very special. Our friend Starla Huchton has written her scifi-romance debut, MAVEN and of course we jumped at the chance at an ARC. Shelley got the luck of the draw and dove right into Lydia's tale. And holy WOW! We can't thank Starla enough for this outstanding ARC, the opportunity to share her on our blog, and for her friendship- through none other than the most awesome Misty Provencher. Thank you to Misty for introducing us. We love you both!

So shall we let the fun begin? Here's a guest post from Starla,  followed by Shell's review as well as all you need to grab MAVEN for yourself, and a GIVEAWAY! ENJOY! Thanks for stopping by! HAPPY READING, and GOOD LUCK!

 How far would you go for love?

Since losing her parents at 14, young prodigy Dr. Lydia Ashley has focused on one thing: an appointment on the Deep Water Research Command Endure. Now 21, she’s about to realize that dream, but nothing is how she imagined it would be. Her transitional sponsor forgets her, her new lab is in complete chaos, and, as if that weren’t enough, she’s about to discover something so horrific it could potentially destroy all life on the planet.

Daniel Brewer, a noted playboy and genius in his own right, may be exactly what she needs… Or he may make everything worse.

Has she finally found a puzzle she can’t solve?

Plight of the Sci-Fi Romance Author

Want to know a secret?

Right now, I’m kind of terrified of my own book.

It’s not that I don’t love the story, or the setting, or the characters. Nothing like that.

No, what has me gripping the armrest of my office chair is thinking about my genre. Maven is Science Fiction Romance. It’s a niche market. Readers who love sci-fi may have that “eww, romance” reaction. Readers of romance may have that “eww, science” reaction. It terrifies me that people will see “Sci-Fi Romance” and automatically discount it for one reason or the other. Because, really, who writes a book intending for it to flop?

When I set out to write this story, I was barely aware Sci-Fi Romance was a thing. I just wrote what the story demanded to be. I loved the underwater setting. I loved my characters. I love the way the plot evolved into something so much more complex than I imagined when I started chapter 1. Funny thing is that I still feel like a sub-niche when I look at Sci-Fi Romance as a genre. It’s filled with space operas and alien encounters (there is more to the genre, but that’s a different post altogether). My story has none of that. It isn’t the hard science fiction I occasionally read as a youngster. It’s told in a very contemporary voice, a far cry from futuristic slang and smatterings of alien languages. It’s accessible to anyone who enjoys a good story.

But I’m afraid of this book. I’m afraid people won’t give it a chance because “eww, science” or “eww, romance”. I think people will like it regardless of either factor, but now my challenge is to convince readers of that. Think about trying to tell someone who’s never seen chocolate about how awesome it is. It’s brown. It can get melty and messy. On the surface it doesn’t look like something you should be eating. If it’s a thing they’ve never tried before, how do you talk them into that first taste? Now, I’m not saying Maven is on par with chocolate, because, really, what is? But maybe you can see the dilemma I’m facing.

Will readers respond to Maven? Will they take that first tentative bite? Well, those aren’t questions I can answer. All I can do is tell them how much I love it and offer to share. If I’m lucky, maybe they’ll agree.

Starla Huchton released her first novel, The Dreamer's Thread, as a full cast podcast production beginning in August 2009. Her first foray went on to become a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. Since her debut, Starla's voice has appeared in other podcasts including The Dunesteef Audio Fiction Magazine, The Drabblecast, and Erotica a la Carte. She is also a voice talent for Darkfire Productions, and narrates several of their projects, including The Emperor's Edge series, This Path We Share, and others. Her writing has appeared in the Erotica a la Carte podcast, a short story for The Gearheart (earning her a third Parsec nomination), and an episode of the Tales from the Archives podcast (the companion to Tee Morris and Philippa Balantine's Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series), which garnered her a second finalist badge from the 2012 Parsec Awards. Her second novel, a Steampunk adventure entitled Master of Myth, was the first place winner in the Fantasy/Science Fiction category of The Sandy Writing Contest held annually by the Crested Butte Writers Conference. Maven is her third completed novel and the first in a planned series of four, being released under the name S. A. Huchton.

After completing her degree in Graphic Arts, Starla opened up shop as a freelance graphic designer focusing on creating beautiful book covers for independent authors and publishers. She currently lives in Virginia where she trains her three Minions and military husband.

 What an incredible story. And an amazing debut. Written with intelligence, moving sensuality and sass, MAVEN was an excellent adventure.
I love science fiction and fantasy. I'm pretty sure that started with The Hobbit and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I also love and am terrified of the water so this was a journey I was looking forward to taking- safe in my cozy reading space... It's been awhile since I've read something considered strictly scifi, but MAVEN is truly so much more.  A young female prodigy aboard a submarine in the year 2040? Mystery-intrigue, the possibility of romance... Not a storyline I've seen before and I was eager to see where Starla would take it.

I instantly liked Lydia and found her unusual life fascinating. A tragic history, out of the ordinary and spectacular accomplishments, and a heart filled with hope and promise. The story is told from her perspective and from the beginning I was hooked. We meet Dr. Lydia Ashley as she approaches her assignment on the DWRC Endure. Right away we see her intelligence and enthusiasm, and I got caught up in her arrival as much as she did. Of course things don't go as smoothly as she hoped, especially when she meets Daniel Brewer. Her long distance crush of six years is somewhat of a letdown and she questions her decision to work alongside him under his father's command.

Daniel is... well, like Lydia, he's more than meets the eye. And also like Lydia, he's seen tragedy in his young life. He's resentful of his past, his father and his position. He's not a happy person and has earned himself quite a reputation. And of course he's gorgeous. When he finally makes his appearance, he's so struck by Lydia he's not sure how to handle it. His first impression may have ruined his chance with the beguiling young beauty.

So, is this the beginning of a great romance or a recipe for disaster? Well, our crew mates don't have a lot of time to explore electricity between them as Lydia uncovers some disturbing tests being run in her lab and an investigation is begun with Lydia and Daniel at the helm. Time is against them- and possibly some of their crew. They've no idea who to trust or whether they can unravel the truth before life as they know it is destroyed.

This story has it all; mystery, suspense, ah, yes, ROMANCE and some action. It's fast paced and enthralling. The relationships between Lydia, Daniel and the crew grow throughout the story and as secrets and betrayals are discovered. With the dual storyline of the investigation and Lydia and Daniel's bumpy romance, there is never a dull moment and I delighted in actually learning a thing or two. While MAVEN is largely a work of fiction, Starla has put a lot of her own experience and a ton of research into making this an exciting and believable adventure. She exceeded my expectations, challenged my mind, and won my heart.

All in all, a sparkling debut, and a series I'm guaranteed to follow with rapt enthusiasm. MAVEN is a story that crosses genres, makes you think- and dream, and I highly recommend it to EVERYONE. Five BLAZING flames!

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