Laisen Carros is an agent of the Fusion sent undercover to infiltrate the Perlim Empire. However the years she’s spent impersonating military commander Cheloi Sie are starting to wear her down. She’s sick of the manipulation and duplicity and, after twenty years of being an agent, she wants to live her own life.
To Lith Yinalña, a former Perlim subject now returned to a place she dreads, Cheloi Sie is nothing but a war criminal and Lith considers it her personal mission to kill the Colonel.
Unfortunately for Laisen/Cheloi, the Empire and an idealistic assassin aren’t her only enemies. When Laisen and Lith start falling in love, it’s only a matter of time before someone else in the Empire notices. And acts.
Top notch science fiction combined with military politics and fully realized characters makes KS Augustin’s WAR GAMES one of my top reads of the year. Now, granted, I have a thing for bad girls in fiction, and undercover operatives who get dubbed “The Butcher” certainly fit the bad girl bill. But Laisen Carros, aka Cheloi Sie, has what every good bad girl needs: Vulnerability. Not weakness. Vulnerability. Something that makes her relatable and human.
Laisen/Cheloi is in a deep cover situation that will lead to her peoples’victory on Menon IV, but when Lith comes along, feelings and desires Laisen thought she’d never have again rush back. The balancing act of being the bad ass colonel/agent, navigating the affair with Lith, dealing with a second in command who’d sooner see her dead, and her sympathies for the very people she’s supposed to betray, make Laisen the perfect combination. You know she’ll kill without a moment’s hesitation, and does, but her protectiveness of Lith and others, the emotion she shows (to the reader, if not to any other character : ) when remembering her late lover, makes her a heroine we want to see standing tall at the end of the day.
Lith is as strong as Laisen in many ways, though her starry-eyed idealism has her come off as the more vulnerable of the two. At least at first. She had volunteered to go to Menon IV and kill the woman she knows as Colonel Cheloi Sie, for the good of the Empire. What she didn’t expect was to find The Butcher to be so attractive on both intellectual and physical levels. Lith is constantly at odds with herself, feeling that she’s betraying her people and her mission as she gets closer—too close—to Cheloi.
Both women have their reasons behind initiating the affair, and their reasons for breaking it off. They have their missions to complete and their superiors to appease. And both are torn by the same realization of love. Decisions are made, people die, and well, let’s just say not every mission comes off as planned.
Augustin weaves her world details with deftness, coloring the pages without dumping a bucket on your head. The action scenes are exciting and the intimate scenes between Laisen and Lith are sensuous. It’s easy to understand why these two develop feelings for each other when they really shouldn’t. Really. Shouldn’t. But you want them to, of course, because this IS a science fiction romance : )
The only fault I had with WAR GAMES was that the ending seemed a bit drawn out. The pace slowed a little for me when I was anxious to see things wrapped up. But in the end, I completely enjoyed the book.
Well done, Ms. Augustin. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next!
Buy your copy at Amazon or other fine ebook retailers.