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Bookends: Mixing Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction and the Occult December 29, 2013

Posted by klondykewriter in Bookends.
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Bookends: Mixing Romance, Mystery, Science Fiction and the Occult

By Dan Davidson

September 3, 2013

– 936 words –

I’m not sure who started this penchant for mixing romance with some other genre. Nora Roberts (as J.D. Robb) does it with her three dozen or so “In Death” science fiction/mystery series novels. Charlaine Harris has done it with her 13 Sookie Stackhouse novels, adding the supernatural to the mix. The TV series, True Blood, is loosely based on these books. There’s something of the same blending of romance and the supernatural in the Twilight books, but besides being boring, these are almost devoid of actual sex, and you certainly can’t say that of the others I’ve mentioned.

This week I’m looking at two early entries in a couple of other series that do this same sort of blending.

 Touched By An AlienTouched by an Alien

By Gini Koch

DAW Books

400 pages


Gini Koch has decided to add humour into the mix with this thriller/romance/SF blend. This is the first in her “Kitty” Katt series, narrated in the first person by Katherine herself. Kitty gets involved is what amounts to an invasion of the Earth quite by accident when she interferes in an apparent domestic dispute only to have the male half of the fight transmogrify into a winged monster before her eyes. When she manages to kill it with a ballpoint pen, the good guys, who turn out to be an organization of transplanted humanoid aliens, decide she would make a great recruit for their organization.

It’s not entirely that simple. In an almost Dan Brownish series of revelations and counter revelations we learn the history (in several different versions) of our alien protectors; we learn stuff about Kitty’s Mom and Dad that she never knew and we learn the details of an intergalactic struggle against evil that has more to do with religion than with the usual motives.

Then there’s the romance. Agent Jeffry Martini falls for Kitty right away and does not delay in making his intentions known. Kitty finds him incredibly attractive, but that seems to be the case with all the aliens, male or female and she’s very puzzled by all this. In spite of some initial reluctance it’s not long before they are succumbing to passion in beds, showers and elevators, ably assisted by the aliens having porn star style stamina. It got to be a bit much after a while and I found myself flipping pages on my iPod to get back to the actual story.

It does turn out that their overactive libidos are actually an important part of the solution to some of the problems they have to face, but still…

I mentioned humour. This is a funny book, in spite of being part of the war against evil and full of some very nasty super beings – humans transformed and empowered by alien parasites, the worst of which has adopted the telltale moniker of Mephistopheles. There’s lots of banter and bit of slapstick, and even the fights have their moments.

There are several more books in this series since this 2010 debut novel. Not bad for light reading after some heavier material.


Out of Time: A Time Travel MysteryOut of time

By Monique Martin


294 pages


Monique Martin’s first Out of Time novel was published under the Amazon Create Space program and offered as a freebee to attract readers to the series, which now has several other titles.

The novel follows the fortunes of Professor Simon Cross, a somewhat introverted university specialist in the occult. He has an assistant (a former student) named Elizabeth West, who is somewhat younger than he is. It is obvious from the opening pages that the pair are nuts about each other but each one considers the relationship improper, so they haven’t done anything about it.

Simon has some demons in his past and suffers from bad dreams, some of which involve the mysterious death of his grandfather. Grandfather left Simon a pocket watch with some odd markings and dials on it. When Elizabeth drops by his house one night with some graded papers, he shows her this watch. It happens to be the night of a lunar eclipse and when Simon accidentally moves one of the dials, the universe turns inside out and the pair finds themselves in Prohibition Era New York, not long before the great Stock Market Crash of 1929.

They have with them only what they were wearing. Their money is useless and Elizabeth’s clothes, in particular, are entirely unsuited to the time period. When they manage to scrape together enough to rent a room it has, of course, only one double bed. That, and their castaway circumstances, eventually dissolves the barrier of propriety that has kept them from admitting their attraction to each other.

They manage to find employment in a speakeasy bar, Elizabeth as a waitress and Simon, after a time, as a piano player. They figure out that the watch will probably return them to their time at the next lunar eclipse but they have to survive that long and it seems that Elizabeth has attracted the attention of a local mob boss – a man named King who is, as it turns out, a vampire.

Things don’t turn out quite as predictably as none might expect at this point and the climax held a few surprises, including Simon’s meeting with his grandfather.

This gimmick of a time travelling timepiece, mixed with bits of the occult, could provide fodder for quite a few stories. After all, Dr. Who has been doing wonders with that blue Police Box for decades now.






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