Military science fiction with a kick-butt female lead: Bauers’ debut.
Planet Montana, a colonial backwater languishing in the buffer zone between the Republic of Aligned Worlds and the Lusitanian Empire, is highly susceptible to attack by pirates. During one such raid, Promise Paen’s pacifist father was killed. Thus orphaned, Promise joined the RAW Marine Corps—a sort of mechanized infantry—seeking revenge, even though she’s haunted by the ghost of her mother, Sandra. Now a provisional member of RAW, Montana’s entitled to at least a modicum of protection, and when another pirate attack devastates the world’s capital and spaceport, Promise and Victor Company receive orders to clear the hostiles out. Promise succeeds, though she’s badly wounded, receiving a promotion to first lieutenant and a hero’s acclaim. But her orders also include staying on and making nice with President Annie Buckmeister and the planet’s population of rugged individualists, who, while grateful to Promise and Victor Company, remain skeptical about RAW membership. Unfortunately, the watching Lusitanians are well-aware that Promise’s devastated company has not been reinforced and decide this would be a good time to boot out the heavily outnumbered RAW forces. Past a dull start, the fast-paced narrative features plenty of outstanding action sequences and characters who, while getting the job done, aren’t ashamed to weep over fallen comrades. There’s plenty of weaponry to keep the techies happy and even a love interest for Promise. The ghost pops up with annoying frequency while contributing little. And that name, Promise Paen: really? Neither is there too much originality on display.
Still, it’s a subgenre with a well-established audience, and Bauers makes a solid entrance.