Genre: Sci-Fi, Space Opera, Romance
LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian
Reviewer: Whiskey November
About The Book
Finding the right romantic partner is always a challenge—especially when your first spouse turns out to be a greedy, business-obsessed hardass who winds up on her CEO office floor with a bullet through her brain.
After the murder of her first wife, Elaine is ready for a vacation and a solid relationship with a woman who only has time for her. Thanks to some found alien technology, Elaine can get what she wants… sort of. Okay, so a computer-generated tangible holographic image of a twentieth-century film star is about as far from “solid” as it gets. But as her themed pleasure cruise on a passenger starliner progresses and an additional plot to murder Elaine reveals itself, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to her fantasy companion.
Ricky might be the result of exceptional programming, but she proves to be more than the sum of her particles. She shows Elaine more affection, and eventually more protection, than any so-called “real” woman in her life ever has, leaving Elaine to wonder—are Ricky’s feelings for her truly artificial? Or is this REEL TO REAL LOVE?
Once in a while I like to break out of my comfort zone and read something different. REEL TO REAL LOVE is different! A science-fiction thriller with F/F romantic elements, RTRL is fast-paced and action-packed, offering a satisfying conclusion to the romantic through-story.
Caveats and cautions: the title brings to mind a modern-day Hollywood rom-com. This is not that. Several scenes of explicit violence, a near-constant threat against a main character, a genocide back-story, and destruction of a spacefaring cruise ship with significant loss of life add up to ‘not a fluffy read.’ This creates a tone imbalance at times, when lighter scenes are juxtaposed with Mortal Peril.
The central characters are Elaine, a young and somewhat sheltered rich widow (her wife, a hard-nosed tech mogul, was killed right in front of her by an assassin’s bullet, which I’m not calling a spoiler because that is literally the first scene), and Richelle, an unexpectedly sentient tangible hologram assigned as Elaine’s personal all-purpose escort while aboard the cruise ship. Over the course of the book, details about Richelle emerge which furnish the basis for the romance storyline’s happy ending.
RTRL deals well with the mental gymnastics involved with starting a new relationship in especially challenging circumstances. The development of the love affair is well-paced, with occasional, unsurprising friction. The one love scene is moderately explicit and advances the love affair. Meanwhile, the thriller plot is well-constructed (if somewhat merciless). Well-written overall and an absorbing read; recommended.
Whiskey is an urban professional with close family & friendship ties to the LGBTQ+ community. She supports the work of GLAAD, Broadway Cares, and the Los Angeles LGBT Center, among others. She reads in excess of 250 books a year (romance, mystery, science fiction, history, and memoir) and is a self-published writer of contemporary and historical romance.