One Perfect Mate
As I read One Perfect Mate I kept trying to think what it reminded me of. A novel that’s a cross between a mail-order bride romance and Logan’s Run doesn’t come my way very often, and yet I had that nagging feeling. By book’s end I realized where the feeling was coming from. The protagonists and the overall tone (not the plot) reminded me of Anne McCaffrey’s Rowan series. If you’ve read these books, you know they’re strong on relationships and light on the science while still telling a very good story. The same can be said of Tracy Cozzens’ latest.
Botanist Mariss Sakari is through with love. Her two marriages, love matches both, ended disastrously. Since her track record when it comes to love is so bad, she’s decided to let a computer do her matchmaking this time around. Now she’s on her way to the remote colony planet Elysia to marry a man chosen for her by a computer program. All perfectly logical and safe as far as she’s concerned.
Captain Kade Land is far from convinced. He’s the out-of-favor captain of the flight that’s taking Mariss to her destination. Though he’s got enough of his own problems to deal with being passed over for a promotion and facing an endless stream of backwater flights across the galaxy, he can’t help but be drawn to Mariss. He figures that she’s out of his league and unlikely to return his feelings but that doesn’t stop him from trying. And when their ship crashes on the far side of Elysia the two have to deal with each other as they struggle to reach the colony and Mariss’ mate.
The sparks fly between Kade and Mariss as soon as she appears on his ship but their mutual fiery antagonism/attraction feels a bit preprogrammed. Heroine must hate the hero here, he must taunt her to make her pay attention there, then they kiss passionately, then return to their antagonistic mode, get the picture? It’s only when their ship is grounded that the story takes off – and it takes off like an intergalactic ship.
The real dramatic tension is drawn from the true difficulties they now face, both physical and emotional. They have to cross half a continent to get to civilization, and it’s a potentially dangerous crossing. The emotional toll is exacted because they are both mentally crippled by their pasts and yet must deal with a growing bond that’s bound to mess up the future. The book, now in road romance mode, becomes a page-turner as the author increases the tension when they do reach the colony, which is not all it would seem, or is something far more.
Kade is an alpha male in every physical and outward sense, but he’s not when it comes to his relationship with Mariss; she directs things. Mariss is an intelligent, strong protagonist who is emotionally stunted. That’s what reminds me of McCaffrey’s series. Strong but flawed characters who face some pretty impressive (and creepy) world changing challenges.
Though the first third of the book is slow going, by chapter seven I was thoroughly engrossed. So engrossed that I thought the many plot threads got short shrift by books end. They are wrapped up too quickly and neatly. In fact I wished that Cozzens would imitate McCaffrey and make this a two or three book series to explore some of the complexities of the plot and the relationship. As it is, I was satisfied but wanted more, which is a pretty nice way for a reviewer to feel.