Tales From the SFR Brigade

Rated 4.63/5 based on 8 reviews
Experience love and adventure among the stars in ‘Tales from the SFR Brigade,’ a free digital anthology of eight Science Fiction Romance stories. More
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About JC Cassels

JC Cassels, a native of Tampa, Florida, traces her lifelong fascination with SF/Adventure to watching Star Trek on a tiny black and white portable television aboard the family boat as a child. The Space Opera trend that followed the release of Star Wars fed an obsessive need for swashbuckling adventure set in deep space. Today, JC feeds that need by writing her own adventures, heavily inspired by 1960's television shows like Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, and Wild Wild West and fueled by Firefly reruns.

When not writing in her haunted hospital, JC lives with her husband, three children, five dogs, twenty chickens and a horse in a century-old house in a tiny rural community, and enjoys spending her free time sewing, camping, and heckling theoretical physicists on the Science Channel.

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Reviews of Tales From the SFR Brigade by JC Cassels

Carol reviewed on Sep. 29, 2013

Hard to beat a free set of short stories by leading authors in the genre.
(review of free book)
Sophia Rose reviewed on Sep. 17, 2013

Being a Sci-Fi Romance lover like I am, I was salivating for the opportunity to read a sampling of so many 'new to me' authors in the genre. Usually with a short story anthology it is a bit hit or miss and I was prepared for this contingency, but holy guacamole!!! They were all big hits with me and I will most assuredly be hunting down more of these author's efforts.

As I started reading, I encountered the forward letter explaining the way this anthology came about. It's a nice little story of its own. A few authors of similar genre came together and that built to a huge network of them who now call themselves the Science Fiction Romance (SFR) Brigade. And some of these folk in turn have turned their talents toward this sampler.

Another cool thing about the book is that after each story concludes there is a short piece about what inspired the story. I have a nosy nature and like to know stuff like that so I found the little extra bit along with the author's bio appealing.

Okay, now that I've danced around the stories for a little while, let's get to it. There are eight stories that range in length from short shorts to a shorter novella. I do not plan to do full reviews on each story, but I'll give a few thoughts. Each story is a different facet to Sci-Fi Romance and it was fun getting something different with each tale.

The first story, Imprint, is about a female thief and the Space Marshall who tracks her and brings her to justice. It was a nice romp that pitted the hero and heroine against each other in an enemies to lovers romance.

Second story, Allure, is a military romance where a young couple has only one night before the man jumps on his rocket shuttle and heads off to war. This is one of the shortest stories that doesn't have much development time, yet is still rather engaging.

Then Nobody's Present was an alien romance where a female scientist gets all her dreams of space travel and using her skills come true in a unique way. I was a bit confused about the alien backstory, but still enjoyed the main plot just fine.

The other really short story was The Stranger. I really wished this one could have had more time to develop. It felt like I was jumping into the story right at the tale end. It was a really poignant piece for all that in that a female resistance fighting captain searches out the last remaining bonded humans who were separated in the war to get them off planet to a free planet where hopefully they can find their bondmate. She has never stopped looking for her long lost bond mate.

Mission Nam Selon is a part of a series and was more novella length. I had no trouble reading this one as a standalone, but I really liked the characters and am dying to know their backstory in the full-length novel that introduced the series. It's an ongoing romance between a Captain in a freedom fighting group and a cyborg who defected from the Triad group who are trying to conquer everyone. They have to part for separate missions and there is worry over potential danger that does indeed come to fruition.

Prime Sensations was a second chance romance when a captured woman who was made a slave suddenly comes face to face with the lover who left her behind to the enemy three years before. All was not what it seemed and now they can start over if she can learn to trust again.

Envy's Revenge was a unique piece told in first person of a girl who is a survivor. The planet was ravaged by a horrible disease that took mostly the women and then it all degenerated into war and isolated city states vying for power. Life is hard and brutal and she just wants to remain free. Things change when a a mech hunter comes for her.

The final entry was a western that could have been set in space, parallel earth or a future earth. Not sure, but its got the saloon, the gamblers, dance hall girls, bartender, gunslingers and the show down to prove it.

So all in all, this was one of my best experiences with an anthology and I loved experiencing each unique piece that ranged in heat from sweet to spicy when it came to the romance. Sci-Fi Romance lovers should definitely pick this one up.
(review of free book)
James Jenkins reviewed on Aug. 5, 2013

A group of mostly well written SciFi Romances, some are better then others. Links to other works by each author are given, if you want to look for more.
(review of free book)
T.K. Toppin reviewed on July 24, 2013

What a delightful assortment of yummy morsels! Eight amazing shorts stories from eight amazing SFR writers, dishing out tantalizing samplers to whet the appetite. I thoroughly enjoyed each story, and wished these teasers would blossom into full length novels. Each writer's distinctive style shouts out, and their imagination and creativity into moulding a story with few words is brilliant. Some of the writer's I am familiar with, others, I will most definitely be seeking out and reading their stuff. Cheers to you all! And kudos to the SFR Brigade for compiling this incredible anthology!
(review of free book)
CE Kilgore reviewed on June 30, 2013

Disclaimer: I am a proud, card-carrying member of the SFR Brigade, however, I did not take part in any stage of the creation of this anthology and am reading each story for the first time. The five-stars were, in my opinion, earned by this anthology and I would have given this anthology 5 stars regardless of its connection to the SFR Brigade group. We are a group of like-genre writers who openly support and critique one another.

Review: - 5 Stars

This is a collection of works by many talented Science Fiction Romance authors. I have created separate, spoiler free reviews for each story in the anthology. Together, the stories came together in an impressive example of the best in the genre and earned five stars.

Story 1 - Imprint by Pippa Jay
Imprint starts the anthology off with a strong, well written story full of fantastic world building, allure and a tension driven plot that pits a human female criminal against a Deluvian male law enforcement Marshal. This story blew me away and set a high expectation for the rest of the stories to follow it. It showed the depth of storytelling that I have come to expect from Pippa Jay, having read both Keir and Terms and Conditions Apply. In Imprint, Jiona is a woman on the run from both the Marshal who has been hot on her heels for months and from the crime syndicates she has been working to bring down in a vigilante style justice that required less than legal actions. Tevik is the Marshal who has been tracking her, almost capturing her time and time again, while fighting to keep his priorities straight and his heart out of the game. In typical Pippa Jay style, Imprint will keep you on the edge of your seat and guessing until the very last page.

Story 2 - Allure by Amy Laurens
Allure shows the variety of the stories within the anthology, moving from the suspenseful and hard-edged Imprint to a sweetly, softly written short story about two lives being separated by a distant planetary war. Sara's fiance, Ash, has been called to war and they spend his last night on Earth together, contemplating what might have been and what possibility there is for a future.

Story 3 - Nobody's Present by Marcella Burnard
In this story, Burnard shows a flexible writing style and voice that includes humor, intelligent science fiction and heart-string pulling moments. Burnard offers a strong and smart female lead who is chasing after her dream of taking part in the private space race, but who ends up getting into space much sooner that she bargained for. Though it does fall into the much used 'Mars needs women' category, I found the way that it was done and explained to be a troupe-bender and unique. This is a lengthy novella that was a treat to find included in this anthology.

Story 4 - The Stranger by Kyndra Hatch
This is a very short but enjoyable story with compact, well done world building that leaves you wanting more of it. It has an appealing military sci-fi feel to it, complete with a strong female character, body armor, a stolen enemy ship and a wounded solider.Though a touch predictable, I still found it very enjoyable and it makes me want to read whatever else Kyndra Hatch has written. I think her writing style is right up my alley.

Story 5 - Mission: Nam Selan by Linnea Sinclair
Sinclair's short story contribution is a continuation of her Alliance Command series. Knowing that Sinclair is one of the most well known names in the SFR genre, I was looking forward to this story, but I was also worried it might require a reading of the Alliance Command series to understand what was going on, a series I have not yet had the chance to sit down and consume. While I do feel that having read the Alliance Command series would have helped with some points of confusion and made the story more enjoyable, the story is able to stand on its own rather nicely. It is a complete story of love and trust being put to the test in a dance of political intrigue and finesse as Sass is forced to deal with her ex-lover, Zanorian, much to the unhappiness of her new love, Kel-Paten, in order to broker a treatassist with a bunch of space pirates. Though ordered not to follow Sass on the mission, Kel-Paten has other ideas when a possible premotion puts his heart at war with his cybernetically enhanced mind. When he shows up at the treatassist, however, not everything is as it seems.

Story 6 - Prime Sensations by Liana Brooks
One of my favorite stories from this anthology, Prime Sensations has excellent world building, a deeply faceted love story of past regrets colliding with an uncertain future and great characters that make me wish it was a longer story or part of a series. It has certainly put Liana on my "must-read authors" list. Prime Sensations begins with Lana, an indentured human slave solo-piloting a trash hauler for the Iloni, the corrupt government force or "evil empire" in this universe. Her ship is boarded by pirates, and the way she handles herself with them made me fall instantly in love with her moxie. The boarding party, however, turns out to be someone she never expected to see, but the surprise goes both ways. Kaleb thought Lana died during a mission three years prior and her sudden reappearance sends his heart and world grasping for gravity.

Story 7 - Envy's Revenge by Berinn Rae
Envy's Revenge is an unexpected mix of gritty, dark storytelling and a beautifully sweet romance that kept me guessing. Envy has been surviving alone in her swamp for years, fighting off the pirates and the scavengers that come in search of the last treasures of a crumbling civilization: women. When a mecha-enhanced hunter comes into her swamp, he fights her carefully laid traps and patently waits for her defenses to drop. When they do, the impact could change her life forever. I absolutely loved how this story played out, and the ending was unexpected and heartwarming.

Story 8 - Whiskey and Starshine by Erica Hayes
Whiskey and Starshine ends the anthology with a romp through a frontier wild-west-esque universe, complete with a saloon, dolled up hussies, gun slinging and, of course, whiskey. Allie is a whore with a past she can't remember after being implanted with a chip by the Syndicate and sold into slavery. Cade is her owner, a Syndicate slave-trader with a bad attitude and cold, heartless eyes. Jericho could be Allie's saving grace when he walks into the bar, even if she can't remember him the way he remembers her. This was a fast-paced, rip-roaring good time read and cemented the five-star rating for the overall anthology.
(review of free book)
Pippa Jay reviewed on June 29, 2013

In the interest of full disclosure - I have a story in this anthology. My review and rating is based solely on the the other seven stories in the collection, and NOT my opinion of my own.

Allure - I had the privilege of beta reading this before it was even submitted, and it still had me swallowing tears after the first couple of pages. Short and achingly sweet. If you aren't sniffling by the end you have no heart.

Nobody's Present - normally I don't go for the Mars needs women type story - one of my least favourite tropes - but this one pulled me right in and made me love it. *salutes author*

The Stranger - another short and sweet story, of love rediscovered. I would like to see this developed as a longer story.

Nam Selan - I'm a relative newcomer to Linnea's work, pointed there by Laurie Green, but I have read Games of Command. That book is a favourite because of Kel-Paton and Sass, so meeting them again was such a pleasure.

Prime Sensations - another I got to beta read, and despite disliking creme brulee I think of it with fondness everytime I hear it mentioned after this story. How to write sensuous without the sex. ;)

Envy's Revenge - grim and gritty view of a dystopian future. Despite that, the romance is very sweet and believable.

Whiskey and Starshine - a definite tang of Firefly! Lovely descriptions, intense romance and evocative of the Wild West in space.

Each story had a very distinctive flavour, and in spite of being short, I had no problem visualizing each 'world'. The characters were believable and often enthralling. I would love to read more stories set in each universe. This is one of the few books I've read recently that I would go back and read again.
(review of free book)
hrhsophia reviewed on June 26, 2013

For the most part these were well written, entertaining stories. A couple were either too short or had so much going in that it was hard to follow.
(review of free book)
Yenny D. reviewed on June 25, 2013

Imprint by Pippa Jay – Tevik & Jiona.
Loved this story! Characters were well developed in the short length and packed with action, some romance and heat.
Allure by Amy Laurens – Sara & Ash.
Didn’t like this one as much. Super short, story never got a chance to develop and felt more like a prologue to another story.
Nobody’s Present by Marcella Burnard. Finlay & Trygg.
Well written story. Plot moves along nicely but the romance comes second behind plot development. Still enjoyable and wish we could’ve seen Finlay & Trygg together more!
The Stranger by Kyndra Hatch. Nolyra & Jack.
Short and sweet. Would have loved to see this world developed in a longer story!
Mission: Nam Selan by Linnea Sinclair. Tasha & Branden.
Confusing! The author does have a note in the beginning that this short story is related to some of her other works but as a reader who is unfamiliar with those works, I was very confused! Too many names introduced too quickly and I couldn’t keep track.
Prime Sensations by Liana Brooks. Kaleb & Lana.
Very good! Fantastically described world and great characters. Hope there’s more stories to come!
Envy’s Revenge by Berinn Rae. Envy & Hunter.
Interesting read.
Whiskey & Starshine by Erica Hayes. Allie & Jericho.
Well written, sci-fi western style.
(review of free book)
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