Book 4, The Star Series - The Champion of Barésh (The Star Series Book 4)
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PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED AS THE CHAMPION OF BARÉSH!
RITA® winner and New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Susan Grant sweeps readers away to exciting new worlds in another romance and action-packed story!
Dreaming big on a dead-end world... Jemm Aves toils for a mining company by day, but at night she is a successful bajha player, disguised as a male to compete in the violent underworld of the colony’s fight clubs. Every win puts her one small step closer to her goal: saving enough to escape Barésh with her family. When a royal recruits her to be a star player for his team, her ruse proves to be her most perilous game yet when it puts both their lives—and her heart—at risk.
Prince Charming he was not... Prince Klark is eager to reverse his reputation as the black sheep of the Vedla clan. If his bajha team can win the galactic title it would go a long way toward restoring the family honor that his misdeeds tarnished. On Barésh, he tracks down an amateur who has risen to the top of the seedy world of street bajha, offering the commoner a chance of a lifetime: a way off that reeking space rock for good. But his new player comes with a scandalous secret that turns his plans and his beliefs upside down. He sets out to win a very different prize—his champion’s heart.
RITA® finalist *** Galaxy Award Winner
I’ve been a fan of Susan Grant since I first picked up a copy of The Legend of Banzai Maguire on a newsstand in 2004. I have read all her books, and I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read her latest work in advance and review it.
The Champion of Baresh is very much in keeping with the rest of Ms. Grant’s Vash Nadah series: strong women flying against tradition in a heavily male-dominated society. Some of the sexual double standards, which I found quite “icky” in previous books, are downplayed in The Champion of Baresh, which was a plus for me. In its place, the disparity between privilege and poverty is managed with masterful attention to detail and just enough emphasis to make its points without being preachy. I did find it surprising that the class difference was not judged more harshly – or at least addressed more specifically – by more of the secondary characters among the Vash and their retainers towards the end of the book. Perhaps this represents progress in the development of the society, albeit perhaps more rapidly than real life social change occurs, but it might have been a bit more clearly explained.
After his enigmatic appearances as a side character in The Star Prince and The Star Princess, I was delighted to see Klark Vedla get his own book and his own chance for a happily ever after. I was glad to finally see events from his perspective. His sense of Vash Nadah honor, isolation, and regret for his previous actions are compelling, and his willingness to admit and correct a mistake is admirable. I appreciated his growth of character across all three books. Jemm, of course, is lovely as a tough but sweet young woman trying to keep her family safe and healthy amid difficult circumstances. It’s refreshing to see a romance novel heroine who is not struggling with low self-esteem. I love the way she acts independently to solve her problems throughout the book, despite being slightly swept away as events move rapidly in unexpected directions.
The game of Bajha is an interesting combination of fencing and Blind Man’s Bluff, with aspects of meditation, steeped in centuries-long tradition of military honor, and followed with the fervor of modern football. Even as a dedicated non-sports fan, I enjoyed the descriptions of the various Bajha matches, which were original, detailed, and at times suspenseful. However, I have to admit, I never really “got” the fanaticism aspect of football (either American or European) even in real life, and therefore had a bit of difficulty seeing success in the sports arena as a convincing vehicle for Klark to counteract his galactic-level humiliation and restore his family honor. However, I know I’m in the minority on this, and I imagine it won’t be a problem for other readers.
To say The Champion of Baresh is not my favorite of all Susan Grant’s books is to say I prefer Chocolate Moose Tracks ice cream over Rocky Road. It still deserves 5 stars in my opinion, it’s still among my favorite books, and I will still read it over and over. And as always, my final question is… when can I buy the audiobook?
I received a free review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.