When interstellar smuggler Haz Taylor loses his ship, his money, and his tattered reputation, drinking himself to death on a backwater planet seems like his only option. Then the Coalition offers him a contract to return a stolen religious artifact. Sounds simple enough, but politics can be deadly—and the artifact’s not enthusiastic about being returned.
Haz didn’t sign up to be prisoner transport, but he’s caught between a blaster and hard vacuum. Still, that doesn’t mean he can’t show his captive some kindness. It costs him nothing to give Mot the freedom to move about the ship, to eat when he’s hungry… to believe that he’s a person. It’s only until they reach Mot’s planet. Besides, the Coalition would hate it, which is reason enough.
Then he finds out what awaits Mot at home, and suddenly hard vacuum doesn’t look so bad. Haz is no hero, but he can’t consign Mot to his fate. Somewhere under the space grime, Haz has a sliver of principle. It’s probably going to get him killed, but he doesn’t have much to live for anyway….
This heartfelt sci-fi romance from Fielding (Teddy Spencer Isn't Looking for Love) follows Haz Taylor, smuggler and erstwhile Coalition navy pilot, as he fights his way out of a political trap in a queernorm far future. Haz is desperate to fly again, so when a former superior from the Coalition hires him to transport an artifact to a distant world, he doesn't ask questions. But when his "cargo" turns out to be Mot, a naive young man being treated as a holy relic, and the routine job is revealed to be a setup to cement Coalition power, he and his crew—navigator Njeri and engineer Jaya—find themselves in over their heads. As Haz and Mot grow closer and Haz experiences emotions he thought himself incapable of, he is faced with a choice: defy the Coalition and join the fight for the greater good, or do what he's always done and put himself first. While the sci-fi adventure follows predictable beats, Fielding populates her world with endearing characters, and the romance plot is satisfying. This will please fans of diverse space opera and queer romance alike.