A Distant Star
In defiance of Imperial law, Jerrel bn’Hadar, mercenary and trader, has come to the primitive world of Errandane in search of his brother Santar, who disappeared while on a mission for the Imperial Rediscovery Service. Jerrel expected to find danger in Errandane’s rugged mountains. He didn’t expect to find a beautiful and fiercely independent runner who may hold the key both to his brother’s disappearance and to his own heart...but only at a price he dare not pay.
Nareen of Kalinden is on a desperate mission to bring help for her city, which is under attack from the murderous Beast Men. An orphan rescued from the streets of Kalinden and raised to be a runner, one of the highly trained couriers who carry the urgent messages of the Masters of Errandane, Nareen would give her life to protect her city and its people. But how can she possibly face the needs roused within her by one dangerous, blue-eyed stranger if it means losing...everything?
Tarl Grisaan, reluctant heir to the Controllorship of the planet Diloran, is already dealing with a murderous uncle, a rebel faction that wants him as its leader, and a strong desire to escape to his old life as a Galactic Marine where he at least knows who his enemies are. Tarl can cope with the uncle and the rebels and the precarious political balancing act that is all that’s keeping him alive. What he can’t cope with is the beautiful Marna of Jiandu, whose father, the leader of Diloran’s desert people, the Zeyn, has publicly offered her as Tarl’s Bound Companion, which makes it an offer Tarl can’t refuse.
Raised in the rigid traditions of the Zeyn, Marna can’t refuse her father’s command that she become Bound Companion to a man she loathes at first sight. A man she has sworn to kill for the sake of her people. Yet after a dangerous stranger bursts into her rooms one night, she finds herself starting to question everything she’s been taught to believe…everything, that is, except the promptings of her own heart.
At her mother’s death, Dayra Smith fled the Empire and her powerful, sadistic step-father, driven by her dream of building a new life for herself and her half-brother and sister on the raw frontier world of Far Star. Clawing a living from the land isn’t easy, but Dayra is determined to make a success of the run-down farmhold, and she doesn’t need any man’s help to do it—until it becomes clear that her step-father hasn’t forgotten her, or forgiven, and that he will stop at nothing to reclaim what is his.
Coll Larren thought he’d pretty much hit bottom—until he jumped ship on Far Star and discovered just how far down, down could be. Once, he’d dreamed of freedom from the Empire’s oppressive rule, fought for it, almost died for it, but dreams can die as surely as the men who fight for them, and what does a man do when there are no dreams left? Now he’s broke, beaten, and determined to never again get sucked into a hopeless fight. That is, until he comes to the rescue of a golden-haired beauty with powerful enemies who doesn’t know the meaning of the word quit.
Abandoned as a child to what should have been a short, miserable life on the streets of Dantares, Calee was rescued when it was discovered that she was one of the precious, gifted few — a Dreamer, a psychic capable of guiding star ships through the amorphous darkness of within by following the songs of the stars that only Dreamers can hear. Now Calee lives a safe, cosseted existence within the walls of Dreamworld, alone in a room of her own choosing, drifting on the distant star songs that are more real to her than any of the human pilots she guides. The female pilots she guides, because Calee, her childhood still too raw a memory, wants nothing to do with men, ever. But even Dreamworld’s high walls cannot protect her when she is assigned to guide a pilot—a male pilot—on a mission so urgent that mankind’s very survival hangs in the balance.
Scout ship pilot Bram Mason has found solace in the dangerous, lonely work of exploring newly discovered planets. But there’s a difference between dangerous missions and suicidal ones, and his latest assignment definitely qualifies as suicidal--an ancient probe has reported the discovery of a planet at the very edge of the galaxy, a planet rich in a rare mineral used by humanity’s mortal enemies, the vicious, alien Gromin, to create an airborne poison capable of wiping out life on every human-inhabited planet known. The risk that the Gromin have intercepted the probe’s message is too great to ignore, and Bram’s is the only ship anywhere close. Even though scout ships are built for speed, not firepower, Bram is assigned the task of locating the planet and defending it against any Gromin incursion, no matter what the cost. Bram is prepared to risk his life if he has to, but he isn’t prepared for the assault on his heart by a woman half a galaxy away.
Ever since she escaped from the brutal slavery into which she was born, Calista York has roamed the universe, burying the secret of her past deeper and deeper even as she builds her reputation as a crafty, ferociously independent trader unafraid of taking on the toughest deals or the most dangerous opponents. Only one man, trader Rhys Fairdane, has ever managed to put a dent in her seemingly impenetrable emotional armor. But their profitable—and passionate—relationship came to an abrupt end five years ago, and they’ve been careful to keep half a universe between them ever since.
When Calista is offered the coveted and highly lucrative position of trade representative to the reclusive Kartenese, she accepts without a moment’s hesitation...until she discovers she’ll have a partner whether she likes it or not. Working with Rhys Fairdane again would be bad enough. Having to admit, if only to herself, that she’s as powerfully attracted to him as ever is much, much worse.
Rhys isn’t any happier about the deal than Calista, but there are forces driving him—forces Calista knows nothing about—that make it imperative he accept the job even if she’s part of the package. When they’re in too deep to back out, Rhys and Calista discover that they’re not the only ones with secrets, and that the secrets behind their agreement with the Kartanese are the kind that could get them both killed.