With zest and verve, the superbly talented Anne Avery takes us on another splendiferous flight of fancy through the far reaches of the universe. Ms. Avery goes beyond formula adventure to delve deeply into the hearts and minds of her intriguing characters. Impressively textured and filled with haunting poignancy, this emotionally powerful love story is another significant step forward for futuristic romance.

Life on the colony world Far Star is not easy, but at least it is relatively free. That and its remote location make it the perfect hiding place for Dayra Smith and her young siblings. Surely not even as powerful a man as her abusive stepfather would be able to track them down to this isolated world.

There are compelling reasons, however, for Talman Bardath, the head of the Combine Security Police, to find his runaway stepdaughter, who unknowingly possesses a dangerous recording that could spell the end of his career. And, on a more personal note, it is time to retrieve his son and mold him in his own ruthless image.

Fate, in the form of handsome stranger Coil Larren, intervenes to foil Bardath's initial attempts to penetrate Dayra's holding. Now, after years of wandering the star lanes with a crushing burden of disillusion and guilt, Dayra's enigmatic rescuer finally finds something truly worth fighting for: love.

(Mar., 442 pp., $4.99)

Reviewed by: 
Melinda Helfer