Grant, Dorothy. Between Two Graves: Combined Operations Book 4. Kindle edition, 2022.
When home isn’t “home,” and family is what you make, what does it mean to be ordered back to the place of your birth and your genetic kin? AJ, a career space-soldier, and his (fairly new) wife Jenna go back to his birth family for his mother’s funeral. Things are different. The roads are actually roads (mostly), the new house is large and pretty modern, and his siblings’ kids are tall because they actually got enough to eat. And the bad guys are hanging around because they literally want to buy the farm, the family property. AJ would prefer that they bought the farm in the metaphorical sense.
Then the shooting, back-stabbing, sibling rivalry, and casserole serving begins . . .
Between Two Graves is a little different from the other books in this series, because the main characters are not falling in love. They are already married and are navigating the shoals of “Um, Jenna, this is the family”—all two hundred or so of them. OK, not that many, but AJ comes with a goodly number of kinfolk. Some of whom still detest, despise, dislike, or disregard him. The feeling is rather mutual, and Jenna pours oil on waters when she’s not giving as good as she gets.
If that were not enough drama, the Feds show up and crash the “party.” Why do they want the farm? And what’s the secret hiding up in the rough pasture on the hills? And most important of all, why does AJ even bother hoping that a shopping trip with Jenna will end quietly? She’s 2-0 for “I was just looking at clothes! I didn’t start it.”
The book is very well written, and the cultural differences between parts of the Empire become very clear. Grant explains the blessings and curses of a justice system based on older values than the Imperial “normal,” and goes deeper into the difference between AJ’s military training and equipment as compared to earlier characters in the series. Conditioning someone who fights outside the hull of a space ship to go “cold” and freeze when shocked or injured makes excellent sense. What works in-atmosphere isn’t so great when only a space-suit separates you from Space. Grant weaves the tech bits in deftly and as appropriate.
This series has been called “tactical romance” because the military actions are realistic for the world and the situation. The romance is about people finding each other, and coming home, even if that home doesn’t include blood kin.
FTC NOTICE: I purchased this book for my own used and got no remuneration from the author or publisher for this review.
I do so enjoy Dorothy’s books. I reread them much more often than her husband’s books. Not to say that his aren’t good and entertaining, but hers just itch a spot I didn’t know I had.
I’m in the midst of reading this as free time shows up, and it’s really quite good. I find myself wondering about the Old Way culture and how it surfaced after immigration to the new planet, but that’s a topic for another novel. Maybe. 🙂
I don’t remember how many people were in “cold sleep” in the ark-ships, but there might have been enough that a minority of the settlers brought the “Old Ways” to this planet.
I have read all of Dorothy’s books and enjoy them all quite a bit. It is fascinating to watch her evolve as an author. I do go back and reread parts of them just to enjoy the flow of words. While “Between Two Graves” didn’t impact me as much as the first three in the series it was still a very good book and I look forward to what comes next in this universe. Hope it goes on for a long time.
Yep, different perspective in this one, with AJ taking the lead. Still very well done as usual!!! 🙂
A very good book. Different perspective, but very good.
I was struck by the way the ‘matriarchy’ was shown failing in it, as opposed to your books where the women – in the Clan and Leilia have – (so far) shown much better judgement overall than certain parties in Grant’s book. A good reminder.
Well, don’t forget Leilia’s “Mommy Dearest”. 😈