(Reviewed by Ann Wilkes JUL 24, 2008)
Sara Donovan joined the Air Force to see the world. Little did she know she'd be seeing another galaxy populated by humans. Her space-faring fighter craft is shot down in her first dog fight with aliens. Her expert maneuvering brings her in relatively intact. She wakes up in a cave face to face with her first alien.
"I'm Captain Sara Donovan, United States Air Force." She thought about holding out her hand, but wasn't sure he'd take it. Wasn't sure she wanted him to take it. "And you are...?"
He blinked again. Punk. He understood her, all right. His face didn't change, but his eyes gave him away.
"...shy, I guess." She looked around. "I love what you've done with the place. It's very...retro."
So retro, it probably didn't have a bathroom. Now that she'd thought about it, she needed one. Great. Nothing like baring your butt in the bushes on an alien planet. She tried to think of an alternative, but she hadn't seen any gas stations when she was coming in.
Sara isn't like other fighter pilots. Nor is she like other girls. She has special abilities that she keeps fiercely guarded. In this new galaxy, she finds she is even more special: she bares a strong resemblance to Miri, the keeper of the key. She must confide in someone she can trust while she tries to find the answers to where she fits in and if she is, indeed, related somehow to Miri and more about the key that could win the war. After spending her life trying to blend in and fade into the background, she's suddenly the center of an intra-galactic conflict.
Meantime, there's Fyn, the ET who discovers her when she's shot down on the uninhabited planet that he had crash landed on so long ago that his speech is a bit rusty.
Sara grinned. Soon he'd sound like one of them, even if he didn't exactly look like them. Who knew a head full of dreads could be so hot? She'd never been interested in the bad boys in school. She'd grown up in the danger zone, didn't need to invite more of it into her life.
Danger probably ran scared from Fyn. And she should, too. She'd seen him in the jungle and tested his strength on the mat. She didn't know what had happened to him since his planet was over run, but it couldn't have been...good.
In The Key, Pauline B. Jones envisions the US Air Force reaching another galaxy. This is the first time in recent memory that I have seen an author take humans to the stars before bringing them together on Earth into one or even a handful of governments. She skims over the technology for FTL (Faster Than Light) travel, has us still using laptops and email (and still calling them that) and is heavy on the acronyms and armed forces slang. It was also a stretch that there was no significant language barrier. But, in the tradition of a good space opera, who cares? I couldn't put the book down! I'm loathe to admit that the romance was a factor, but I'd be lying if I said it wasn't. However, the even more significant factors were the intrigue, plot twists, and action. Sara came through one near scrape only to land into the next one. And the whole galaxy with her. I also appreciated reading about a strong heroine who didn't even realize she was beautiful. When she discovered that, it only added yet another weapon to her formidable arsenal.
Jones does a remarkable job of getting us into the heads of her characters. We feel the inner conflicts with them. The two main characters are incredibly torn by their conflicting loyalties and emotions and it comes through beautifully.
The Key is a departure from Jones' usual fare. She's written seven previous novels in other genres, such as action-adventure, comedy-mystery and suspense. Clearly this author knows how to tell a story no matter what the genre. Her character development, pacing and humor satisfy across genre boundaries.
- Amazon readers rating: from 7 reviews
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Pig in a Park (1999) (a.k.a. The Spy Who Kissed Me)
- Do Wah Diddy Die (2002)
- A Dangerous Dance (2005)
- Out of Time (August 2006)
- The Key (August 2007)
Lonesome Lawmen Series:
- Adapting Your Novel For Film
- Made-Up Mayhem
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- Official website for Pauline Baird Jones
- Absolute Write with Pauline Baird Jones
- CresentBlues interview with Pauline Baird Jones
- Mysterious Musings interview with Pauline Baird Jones
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About the Author:
Pauline Baird Jones was born and raised in Wyoming.
She lived in New Orleans with her husband and children for 18 years before moving to Houston, Texas in 2003 (before Katrina).