Title: The Android and the Thief
Author: Wendy Rathbone
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 3, 2017
Page Count: 294
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Will love set them free—or seal their fate?
In the sixty-seventh century, Trev, a master thief and computer hacker, and Khim, a vat-grown human android, reluctantly share a cell in a floating space prison called Steering Star. Trev is there as part of an arrangement that might finally free him from his father’s control. Khim, formerly a combat android, snaps when he is sold into the pleasure trade and murders one of the men who sexually assaults him. At first they are at odds, but despite secrets and their dark pasts, they form a pact—first to survive the prison, and then to escape it.
But independence remains elusive, and falling in love comes with its own challenges. Trev’s father, Dante, a powerful underworld figure with sweeping influence throughout the galaxy, maintains control over their lives that seems stronger than any prison security system, and he seeks to keep them apart. Trev and Khim must plan another, more complex escape, and this time make sure they are well beyond the law as well as Dante’s reach.
Warning: the story contains a detailed gang rape scene that may be objectionable to some.
Premise of the book is Trev Damico is trying to escape Dante Damico’s reach and influence. Khim is a battle damaged vat-grown “android” soldier who was sold to be a pleasure slave. Trev’s plan goes awry and instead of spending a year incognito in a white collar prison, he gets sent to maximum security. Khim goes straight from the auction block to the brothel, is drugged and raped, and subsequently murders a wealthy patron of the club. Despite his status as an android which should result in immediate death, judge and lawyer grant him leniency and send him to prison for life.
Much to Khim’s dismay, he’s cellmates with Trev, family to the people who orchestrated his rape. Trev is dismayed not only that he can’t escape his father, but he’s cellmates with someone who hates his existence. Prison circumstances force them to strike an agreement that will change both men.
As a scifi geek (and I have the badges from the conventions to prove it), I enjoyed this book quite a bit. I thought the plot was well thought out and executed, the world building was appropriate to the story line, and I appreciated how the romance was interwoven and grown as the characters moved forward (as in, the author avoided “insta-love”).
But I have a few caveats that kept this from a five star rating. A handful of quirks bounced me out of the story:
• The use of suits and ties, t-shirts and sweats, in a far future society and galaxy immediately yanked me back to modern day. With the beautiful job at describing Dante’s floating home the clothing was incongruous with the rest of the world building.
• The prison food – apples, green beans, potatoes. If you can create a floating house, create future food. Just skip the soylent green (geek points if you get that reference).
• Comparing the prison station to a black widow spider. Mixed thoughts on this – on one hand in a galaxy far far away, spiders might not be known. On the other hand, it is a readily identifiable feature. For myself, I would have preferred a description of an eight tentacled structure extending out into space.
• I struggled with the premise that a Soldier-android would be so quickly sold as a Pleasure-android. I would think a soldier would make a better body-guard, security-guard, whatnot. Granted, that would not have provided the impetus for what happened, but… there it is.
• And I did find it somewhat implausible that a soldier would have long hair, especially if they are using any kind of space suits on a regular basis.
My issues noted, I will say again I did enjoy how the plot was rolled out – each man was brought to the point in prison, desperate, lonely screwed over by their respective systems and circumstances. They struck a détente of sorts, built trust through honest friendship, and found something more. I really appreciated the slow build, the emotional roller coasters, and seeing each man come to terms with his feelings from his own experiences and perspectives.