I have discovered a new genre in romance: historical stories with science, contemporary attitudes and consent, and I am here for it.
The three-novel Fly Me to the Moon set by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner combines my favorite things by setting the novels in the space race fever of the 1950s and populating them with strong, independent women. Each book focuses on a different character within the social structure of the first astronauts in a fictional version of NASA.
In Star Dust, divorcee’ Anne-Marie faces cultural and family disapproval as she starts a new life with her children, and that new life happens to be next door to the hunky, devil-may-care Commander Kit Campbell. She doesn’t want to complicate her family’s life with a new man in the picture, and he doesn’t want to be tied down, but the attraction is hot, sexy and irresistible. His friends think she’ll be an easy mark; after all, she is divorced, right? But Kit is intrigued by Anne-Marie’s fiery hair and personality. The sex scenes in Star Dust will steam up your Kindle screen, but you’ll get a chance to catch your breath before the happy-ever-after.
The next book, Earth Bound, may be my favorite because the two characters are very difficult people to love. Dr. Charlie Eason, a brilliant computer scientist, and engineer Eugene Parsons are not cuddly meet-cute types. They are both hard, driven people who literally devote nearly every waking hour to ensuring the first space launch goes successfully. At first, their relationship is about lust and sexual fulfillment, and love finally enters a good five paces behind duty and respect. An interesting detail is that Charlie uses her makeup like armor; once the face is on, her façade is impenetrable. The authors make these characters work for their happy ending, and it feels right. There’s no compromising Charlie or Eugene’s character in giving them what they want, and it’s a fascinating journey.
Wrapping up the trio is A Midnight Clear, a sweet Christmas romance between the unofficial head of the astronaut wives, Frances Dumfries Reynolds, and her husband Joe Reynolds. Set when they first met in 1948, it follows social norms closely while still giving Frances, an admiral’s daughter, her own agency. An admiral’s daughter, Frances insists she will never date any of the midshipmen crossing her path in Annapolis, Maryland. But Joe is determined to woo her and win her heart. The story is a bit more traditional, with only a kiss here and there until the two are married, and both are shy and confused virgins on their wedding night. The attention to historical detail is amazing, and the author’s notes on the research they did for all these books are catnip to history junkies like me. I’m looking forward to more in this series.
The Fly Me to the Moon box set is available on Amazon.