Space Race by Laurel Richards
Space Race is a fast-paced sci-fi novel with a sweet romance between the hero and heroine, Max and Clara. The main characters are people without a lot of money or connections, but all they want is a chance to succeed. The land rush on planet Caerus is exactly the opportunity they need.
Inspired by the real-life Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, this futuristic race is a competition for free land on a terraformed planet. Thousands upon thousands of teams are entered to win as much property as they can claim. Cities will form within half a day, transforming Caerus in a matter of hours. And like The Amazing Race, the competition is big entertainment.
First, though, Max and his team have to reach Caerus. Their secondhand ship keeps springing leaks and suffering electrical shorts, making space travel a dangerous endeavor. They take a big risk, all for the hope of a better future.
The race is on! Maxton and his family are entered to compete in the big land rush on planet Caerus. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. The problem? Everything seems to go wrong. Their secondhand ship keeps breaking down, their cousin goes missing, and someone steals half their funds. They have to turn to a staffing agency to get somebody to take a look at their shipboard computers.
When Clara accepts a temp job aboard the Merit, she figures she’ll only be on the ship for about an hour. That’s all the time she needs to run a diagnostic on the computers, but then Max shocks her with an invitation to join his team. The man is handsome and single, and participating in the competition could change her whole life. But can they win?
Although this ragtag group may not look impressive from the outside, they have strength, determination, and smarts. They’ll need all those qualities if they want to win this amazing space race.
Content: This book contains a sweet romance, a dilapidated space ship, and a great deal of running.
After ten years employed as a temp, Clara had experienced countless first days at various jobs. She usually didn’t get nervous anymore, but she took a deep breath before she got closer to the ship. All her agency had told her was that Captain Quade wanted a Tech Support Specialist to run a diagnostic on his computer system. Clara had no education in computers and was by no means an expert. However, she had picked up a trick or two during some of her assignments, and she could certainly follow a troubleshooting manual. She only hoped the captain didn’t expect some kind of software engineer.
Pasting on her professional smile again, she closed the distance to the ship. She was about to shout up to one of the crew members silhouetted on top of the hull when a man walked around the nose of the Merit. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, and her gaze drifted over his broad shoulders and bare, muscular chest. Either he was tan from the sun, or his skin was naturally golden. She conducted a thorough topographical survey of his physique before she forced her stare back upward. The view higher up was no less striking. His strong jaw, currently shadowed by stubble, was balanced by a straight nose and sharply arched eyebrows. The hair on top of his head was dark brown and tied back into a short tail. The rest was cut close to his scalp and dyed a rich green the same hue as his eyes. He came to an abrupt stop and stared right back at her.
“Pardon me,” he said.
Although Clara wasn’t much of a blusher, her cheeks felt distinctly warm. She was certain he was chastising her for ogling him. Then he picked up a shirt that was hanging on the stairs leading up to the ship’s entry door. He slipped the garment over his head, and she realized he was actually apologizing to her for his state of undress.
“You must be from Forseti.” She had never left Attis, but she had always enjoyed learning about other cultures. The colorful hair, coupled with his Old World manners, gave him away. He also spoke the universal language with a slight accent. “Are you Captain Quade?”
“Yes, I’m from Forseti, but no, I’m not the captain. He’s inside.” The man reached out to shake her hand with a firm grip. “I’m Maxton Celestino. Most people call me Max.”
“What do the rest call you?” she teased him.
His green eyes twinkled when he grinned. “My relatives have been known to use more inventive names when they’re annoyed with me.”
“Ah, well, family members get special dispensation.” She held his gaze for a moment before she reminded herself why she was here. “I’m Clara Vale with Stellar Staffers. The agency sent me to take a look at your computers.”
Max’s expression darkened, as sure as if a cloud had passed overhead. “Right this way.”
He indicated the stairs and stepped back for her to precede him. Then he looked her over and appeared to change his mind. He led the way onto the ship. She was halfway up the stairs behind him before she realized he was being polite again. If she had gone ahead of him, he would have had a clear view up her skirt. Max Celestino really was a gentleman.
Once aboard, she followed her well-mannered guide to the flight deck. A larger man was double-checking some wiring in the cockpit. His hair was uncolored and long enough to form a large bun high on the back of his head, with a fishtail braid hanging to one side.
“Korin,” Max said, “Clara Vale is here from the temp agency. Clara, this is our captain.”
“Nice to meet you.” She met those brown eyes dead-on and reached out to shake his hand. A good first impression was critical on any assignment. “Thank you for choosing Stellar Staffers.”
“I appreciate you coming so quickly. I know this was short notice.” Captain Quade motioned for her to enter the cockpit. “We had some issues during the flight. I need you to run a full diagnostic on our primary computers and backup processors.”
Clara tried to appear confident as she took a seat in front of the control panel. In truth, she had no idea if this was the pilot’s chair or the copilot’s chair. This was her first time on the flight deck of a big ship. Her previous experiences were with smaller gliders and planet-based computers.
She got everything booted up and breathed a sigh of relief when she saw a familiar screen. “Nexus 2000. Nice.”
These computers were more complicated than what she was used to, but they were several years old. She could muddle her way through. If they’d had the newer models, she would have been in trouble.
“Nice?” Max asked. “We were told our system is outdated and should be upgraded.”
She shook her head. “What you have is much more reliable. The Millennium 10 OS is awful. It mostly enhanced the security features of the Nexus 2000, with a DNA scan in addition to the retinal and palm scans.” She sniffed. “Half the computers that were upgraded with it crashed during the first boot-up. I’ve heard the manufacturer has put out at least a dozen software patches to try to fix the problems. This older system? I bet you haven’t had one glitch.”
“Oh, we’ve had glitches,” Korin said.
“With the operating system?” She was surprised.
“A short circuit,” Korin admitted.
“That’s an electrical problem, then. The computers are good. If you’ll log me in, I’ll run a full diagnostic to prove it. I don’t think you have to worry.”
The captain logged her in with a palm scan and an old-fashioned alphanumeric password.
“I’ll need you or someone else with the password and security clearance to remain close,” she told him. “I may need to reboot the computers more than once.”
“Very well,” Korin agreed.
She worried that he and Max were going to stand right behind her, looking over her shoulder the whole time. Fortunately, they wandered a short distance out of the cockpit.
“Okay,” Clara whispered to herself. “You can do this.”
About the Author
Laurel Richards is a fiction author with a passion for shifters, space travelers, and other memorable characters. She has gathered inspiration from lots of different sources throughout her life and is here today to share her imagination through storytelling. Laurel writes sci-fi/fantasy, paranormal, and funny mysteries, all with various degrees of romance mixed in.