Liar’s Waltz


Title: Liar’s Waltz
Author: Becky Black
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: M/M science fiction
Length: Novel
Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A guest review by Jenre

Summary Review
A tense romance which relied heavily on good characterization but lacked a little in the setting.

THE BLURB

Firmly-closeted Lieutenant Greg Matthews takes a transfer to space station Saira to make a fresh start. But a rogue military intelligence officer has discovered Greg’s secret and forces him to spy on Karl Webster, the owner of the last gay bar on Saira. The disapproving military authorities want Karl’s bar closed, too, and he’s feeling the heat. He thinks his gorgeous new lover is an ally in his fight, but Greg is reporting back all of Karl’s plans to save the bar. As the campaign against Karl escalates Greg becomes ever more reluctant to deceive the man he’s falling in love with.

Despite his fear Greg is too jittery and unstable to bother with, Karl wants him too much to give him up. He can’t guess the real reason behind Greg’s anxiety — constant fear of what will happen when Karl discovers his deception. The inevitable revelation shatters their relationship and their lives as the blackmailer takes drastic action to silence Karl. Greg must sacrifice everything he’s been trying to protect to undo the damage and save Karl.

THE REVIEW

Greg is newly posted to the space station Saira after requesting a transfer. He’s had enough of the small confines of a space-ship where he seems to constantly develop forbidden feelings for his superior officers, and is looking forward to proving that he’s more than just a prominent family name in his new job as a military computer programmer. When he’s called in to the office of military intelligence and blackmailed into spying on a local owner of a gay bar, Greg never dreamed that he would be faced with the difficult decision of choosing between honour, duty or love.

Whilst I enjoyed this book, it did hit some of the things that I normally find difficult to read. For a start Greg, who is an honourable man hoping for a fresh start, is put in an almost impossible situation. Homosexuality is strictly forbidden in the military, and this is used against Greg to force him to do what he feels is morally wrong. I find storylines such as this rather stressful and frustrating in general and this was no exception. However, given the limitations of Greg’s situation, I though the author did a good job in showing how conflicted Greg is, how the situation is almost intolerable for him. I liked Greg a great deal. I particularly liked that he has accepted his sexual orientation and only seeks to try have a successful military career. There’s no self-hatred, just resignation that if he is to reach the heights of his father and brothers he must hide who he is, which I suppose is a little sad, but understandable non-the-less.  The way that Greg changes through the story was sensitively done, as he goes from being edgy around Karl and always looking over his shoulder, to more accepting and, towards the end, unapologetic in his feelings for Karl.

Karl too is a character who is forced to make difficult decisions. His club is constantly being targeted in an effort to close it down and he could take the easy option. His determination to stand his ground could be read as stupidity, or could be seen as noble and heroic. I chose to see it as the latter and respected him for not wanting to be bullied out of his career. So it is that both characters are manipulated and used by a higher power for its own gain, something I thought was quite cleverly done.

The relationship between the couple progresses quite quickly and I thought at times that the commitment they make was a little rushed. Having said that, they work well as a couple and the obvious attraction between them leant itself well to a speedy emotional bond. Because we see both men’s point of view it was easy to sympathise with both of them, even as you know that there will be an eventual reckoning regarding Greg’s true purpose in initially seducing Karl.

Whilst the characters and the initial situation worked for me, as did the romance, I was a little let down by the setting. One reason I like Science Fiction stories is for the settings, gadgets and gizmos that are usually contained within the story. In the case of Liar’s Waltz I was a little disappointed at how pedestrian the setting was. In fact, the whole story could have easily been transferred to a contemporary setting. Substitute the space station for a military base set in a small town, the comm link devices for iphones and the setting could be modern day. Even Greg’s initial job as a programmer could be done today.  Perhaps this was the author’s intent, to show that the future isn’t so different to the world we know today, but I would have liked to see something a little more special about the setting than sliding doors and vid screens.

Despite my general disgruntlement with the setting, this was still a well written story of two men placed in a difficult situation. Those of you who love stories where the heroes are made to squirm under impossible circumstances, or love to see a hero facing a no-win situation will like this book. As for me, I liked Liar’s Waltz and think it’s a very commendable first novel for Becky Black. I shall look forward to reading more of her books in the future.

18 comments

  • Seems like one to be read. I do so enjoy finding out from the review, whether or not this is the authors first book or not. If its rated well, Im willing to give it a go.

    Reply
    • Hi Hannah

      I thought this was done well for a first book. I quite like trying out new authors and have discovered some real gems by taking a chance on a newbie. Hope you enjoy this book too :).

      Reply
  • Whilst I enjoyed this book, it did hit some of the things that I normally find difficult to read. For a start Greg, who is an honourable man hoping for a fresh start, is put in an almost impossible situation. Homosexuality is strictly forbidden in the military, and this is used against Greg to force him to do what he feels is morally wrong. I find storylines such as this rather stressful and frustrating in general and this was no exception.

    I have a really hard time reading books like this, which is why I have been reading more comedy books lately. I always feel like these books stress me out, and I just can’t take it! Ahh, I have a feeling this book would totally wear me out, no matter how wonderful it might work out in the end. That’s the reason why I thought this book looked good, but not for me. I’ll keep the author in mind though, sounds like a great first book.

    Wonderful review Jen!

    Reply
    • Hi Cole and thanks :).

      I found it stressful too and normally shy away from stories such as this. However, I really wanted to see how well the author had done with a first book, and I’m glad I did read it in the end.

      Reply
  • Jen
    Thank you for a very thorough review. I agree with you that if someone is writing in the sci fi genre they need to do a lot of research for the necessary world building. I get the sense that a lot of this research was skipped, which is too bad because I love this genre. OTOH, it seems that most of the time was spent on the relationship aspect of the book which is a plus for those readers who are not into this genre so it might work for them

    I’m glad you like Becky’s first book – I was wondering how she would acquit herself.

    Reply
    • Hi Wave

      I thought Becky acquitted herself very well :). I agree, it was the relationship which was the focus of the book, which is where it excelled.

      Reply
  • Thanks for the review Jen – well done. What a shame that the author didn’t take more advantage of the setting. Unfortunately I’ve seen that happen quite often in the books I’ve read. I do enjoy Sci-fi, so I’ll probably give this a try anyway.

    Reply
    • You’ll have to see if you agree with me, TJ. I think sometimes if a book is very character based with the focus being on them and their situation, then things like the setting fades a little into the background. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I wished for a little more in terms of setting from this book.

      Reply
  • Hmmm. Several themes there that are not really up my alley, so I think I might pass on this one, but I’ll keep my eye open for other things by the author.

    Reply
      • Hi Tam (and Chris)

        If you are uncomfortable with the theme of a character who is forced into a situation beyond his will, then this won’t appeal. At several points I was grinding my teeth over the bad guy! Maybe the next book will be a fluffy romance 🙂 although I suspect not!

        Reply
  • Thanks for the review, Jenre.

    I do like the sound of this one, but then I’ve always been a sci-fi nerd 🙂 Even the lack of really sci-fi features in the setting doesn’t necessarily bother me – I just sometimes want to be taken a little way out of the real world, but not too far (probably why I’m not into high fantasy).

    Reply
  • I think I will skip this one since I´m not very interesed in sci fic stories, but I will keep an eye for futures releases of this author since this first work seems an interesting one. Thank you for your review 🙂

    Reply
  • Hi Jenre,
    funny,but your complaint about the setting convinced me to read this book. 🙂
    I`m not a sciene-fiction fan and the more contempory setting suits me.
    The story sounds very interesting.
    Thank you for the review.

    s.

    Reply
    • Hi Simsala

      I’m glad my review has made you want to read. I didn’t think about that fact that those who are not as keen as I for gadgets and gizmos would find this story appealing!

      Reply

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