The Key by Pauline Baird Jones

The KeySource: Own collection
Format: Kindle ebook
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewer: Laurel

When Sara Donovan joins Project Enterprise she finds out that what doesn’t kill her makes her stronger. An Air Force pilot – the best of the best to be assigned to this mission – Sara isn’t afraid to travel far beyond the Milky Way on an assignment that takes her into a galaxy torn apart by a long and bitter warfare between the Dusan and the Gadi. After she’s shot down and manages to land safely on an inhospitable planet, Sara encounters Kiernan Fyn – a seriously hot alien with a few secrets of his own – he’s a member of a resistance group called the Ojemba, lead by the mysterious and ruthless Kalian. Together they must avoid capture, but can they avoid their growing attraction to each other? A mysterious, hidden city on the planet brings Sara closer to the answers she seeks – about her baffling abilities and her mother’s past. She has no idea she’s being pulled into the same danger her mother fled – the key to a secret left behind by a lost civilization, the Garradians. The Dusan and the Gadi want the key. So do the Ojemba. They think Sara has it. They are willing to do anything to get it. Sara will have to do anything to stop them.

I had read an extract from this book and looked forward to finding out more. I wasn’t disappointed.

In The Key, we meet Sara Donovan, a US Air Force pilot on a special intergalactic mission with the crew of her mothership the Doolittle, and Fyn, a humanoid (human) alien from the galaxy in which the Doolittle and her crew find themselves. Sara’s presence escalates an already violent intra-galactic war between the Gadi and the Dusan as both groups seek to ensnare her, claiming that she is a key-keeper from some long-vanished race.

I would classify this as a space romp in my head. I love an author with a sense of humour (and their characters), which helped to lighten up what could have been an otherwise tough read, given the circumstances the female MC found herself in. And it was relatively appropriate humour – when the going got tough, things sobered up and the characters got on with their jobs.

All of the characters are well-developed, and I have a distinct dislike for creepy creeps (aka the villain), so Jones jumped on all my triggers for that character. Well done!

While the editing could do with a little work, and there was some headhopping (it is clear that Jones is an old-school writer in this, as her headhopping isn’t as obvious and jarring as when done by modern writers), I thoroughly enjoyed the book and its plot and worldbuilding. Great stuff!

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