It’s New Year’s Eve on a planet called Earth, and all computer programmer Lacey Garrett wants is to design her software in peace. It’s just another day in interstellar space, and all fugitive Zain Masters wants is to map the stars in peace. Unfortunately, they are about to become the only thing standing between a ruthless villain and mass pandemonium on a galactic level.
“This sequel to Unearthed…and Unraveled… shows off Barry’s flair for romantic comedy that’s literally out of this world.” —Nina Davis, Booklist
New Year’s Resolutions:
#1: Control own destiny
#2: Save Earth
#3: Don’t fall for an alien
Lacey Garrett is determined to take back the business and self-respect her ex-fiancé stole from her. But her resolutions seem trivial when she’s suddenly teleported to a strange planet, courtesy of the most gorgeous male specimen in the universe.
Interstellar fugitive Zain Masters needs Lacey’s help to turn off the energy field that has stranded him on a wasteland planet. He has every intention of beaming her back to her own world safe and sound—until a system failure traps them both. Forced to work together to repair his ship, Zain and Lacey try to fight their mutual attraction—when they stumble upon a cosmic conspiracy that threatens not only Earth, but the entire galaxy.
“That’s one dry rock, Reene,” Zain said to his computer as he surveyed the horizon over planet P254-334-5 through his ship’s viewport. Below was an endless monotony of sunburned sand dunes broken by an occasional rock outcropping.
Reene replied, “An astute assessment, sir. Eighty percent desert, twenty percent water. No detectable human or alien populations. There is a viable atmosphere.
However, significant terra-forming would be required to place a water-based populace here.”
Good, Zain thought. The fieldwork of mapping a new planet was easier when it had no people. “Include that in our report to StarNet.”
Zain checked their progress in the planet’s holo-image on the console. Reene had divided the planet surface into equal sections forming the typical grid pattern. As they passed over the next section, the sensor readings scrolled up beside the holo-image displaying surface maps, climate, electromagnetism, geochemistry, gravity. Zain scanned them. Nothing special. Another routine survey.
He leaned back and closed his eyes, letting Reene take care of the survey grid.
Lately, charting star systems and the planets therein had become downright monotonous. Not that he was looking for excitement. He smirked. Well, maybe just a little.
“Sir, I am getting an unusual reading over grid A5501,” Reene announced.
Zain opened his eyes and noted a significant anomaly in the stats. He moved forward for a closer look. In one pinpoint within the grid, the energy readings were off the scale. What the hell was that?
“De-orbit and bring us down,” he commanded, the first whispers of adrenaline unfurling in his gut.
As Reene took the ship down, Zain continued to monitor the readings and the planet surface. The terrain remained constant. No breaks and nothing to explain the kind of energy the sensors were picking up.
“We are directly over the site now,” Reene announced.
“Any idea what this is?” Zain asked.
“We have never encountered this phenomenon before. Therefore, I cannot offer an accurate explanation.”
Zain smiled at Reene’s flawless logic. “A guess, then?”
“Sir, you may recall that I am not very good at guessing. Intuition is a trait I have not yet mastered.”
Zain had to agree with his computer there. The last time he’d let Reene guess, they’d nearly made inadvertent first contact with a new species. Always a bad thing.
Besides, it had been a while since he’d stepped foot on land. A little hands-on data investigation might be just the thing he needed to mitigate the restlessness he’d felt over the past few cycles.
“Bring us down for a landing,” he ordered. “Let’s see what’s making all the noise down there.”
His ship responded immediately. The planet’s energy readings continued to climb the closer they got to the surface, but Zain couldn’t detect the source. He’d never seen anything like this in five years of space exploration.
The earlier excitement he’d felt changed to concern as they neared the planet’s surface. Zain waited for touchdown, but it never happened. Something wasn’t right.
“Reene, pull up,” he ordered just as they slipped below what had appeared to be solid earth.
At the same instant, Reene reported, “Sir, I have encountered an energy field.”
A flash of light crossed the viewport, striking the ship’s hull full force. Another flash simultaneously hit the starboard side and sent a surge of current through the main systems.
“Evasive action!” Zain yelled above the alarms.
His ship jerked hard to the right just as another laser streamed above them, striking the left wing. Reene dropped altitude so fast, Zain’s stomach roiled.
All the bars on the console panel flashed and alarms sounded from nearly every system.
“Get us out of here now, Reene!”
“Unable to comply,” the computer responded. “Navigation systems are compromised.”
Another laser shot took out the shields completely and the holo-images scrambled and then vanished on the console. The spacecraft began a slow, surreal spin.
Zain reached for the stabilizers. No response.
“Stabilizers not functioning,” Reene verified. “Shields are down. All systems rebooting.”
“Shit,” Zain growled. The console went black, and he gritted his teeth as the ship spun out of control, rotating wildly. Distant canyon walls and a desert floor half a klick below flashed by the viewport. The laser fire had stopped, but his ship was coming down hard. At this rate, they wouldn’t survive impact.
“Reene, bring up the landing jets first,” he ground out through the G forces. The floor of the canyon angled into view just below. Ten meters to contact, he clutched his chair arms and braced for what might very well be his final landing.
Panel lights flashed on and the ship heaved slightly as the landing systems took hold. The final seconds slowed in his mind before the sickening collision of machine and land. Red sand sprayed over his ship as it nosed into the ground. Zain jerked forward, his harness preventing him from going through the viewport.
He shook his head, and it reeled to a stop a few minutes later. The last-second landing jets had saved them from total destruction, but the panel lights were flashing at low power and it was very quiet.
“Reene?” he asked in concern. “You still there?”
Static filled the ship’s interior before his computer responded. “Here, sir. Are you functional?”
Zain rolled his neck with a grimace. “I think so.”
“Would you like me to run a scan on you?”
Zain watched the ship’s systems come back up one by one. They didn’t look at all healthy, especially the energy levels. Nearly every system was damaged to some degree, either from the energy surge or the laser fire. “No thanks, Reene. I’m more worried about you at the moment. Release the nanos to start system repairs. What happened?”
“We breached an energy field acting as a camouflage over this crater and triggered a laser attack emanating from multiple locations around the rim.”
Zain peered outside at the sheer rock cliffs enclosing them. Above, he could see the sky through the shimmer of the energy field that covered the basin. It was obviously meant to kill anything or anyone who breached it. Why? Who put it there?
What were they protecting?
“Scan the area, Reene.”
A few seconds later, the ship replied. “There is a single domed structure approximately eight kilometers from our present location. Once the nanos have repaired navigation, I can attempt to move closer.”
Zain eyed the ridge above. “Let’s wait on that. I don’t want to trigger another attack. I’ll take the speeder out to investigate. Any sign of a greeting party?”
And no wonder, Zain thought. A normal ship would never have survived such an assault. Luckily, Reene wasn’t a normal ship.
“Looks like we aren’t getting out of here until I deactivate either the field or the perimeter fire. We need to find the controls for that energy field. They may be in that domed structure.”
“Sir, I am also detecting a large mass below us.”
Zain stilled. That didn’t sound good either. Obviously, this planet wasn’t as boring as he’d originally thought.
“Let’s hope we don’t have to find out what it is.”
“Unlucky in love” is a bit of an understatement for programmer Lacey Garrett. Her ex-fiance Bob didn’t just jilt her. He stole her half of their software design and most of her clients. She has one last chance to regain her professional footing but, one lonely night, can’t resist answering one last e-mail. Little does she know that at the other end of the seemingly harmless message is planetary surveyor and interstellar fugitive Zain Masters, who, trapped on a desert planet, thinks he’s stumbled upon the being with the knowledge to help him escape before the bounty hunters find him. Before Lacey can say, “Beam me up, Scotty,” she’s on an alien planet, in a sentient alien spaceship, with its alien captain who is all heart-stopping man. This sequel to Unearthed (2003) and Unraveled (2003) shows off Barry’s flair for romantic comedy that’s literally out of this world. —Nina Davis, Booklist Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
4 1/2 Stars & a Top Pick —Romantic Times magazine
“Unleashed is a must read and C.J. Barry is not to be missed. —Tracey West for The Road to Romance
“Action, adventure, and a love that transcends galaxies abound in this thrilling novel by up-and-coming author CJ Barry. Full of witty dialogue and one hysterically funny heroine, UNLEASHED is a rollicking tale that hits on many levels.” —Courtney Bowden, Romance Reviews Today
“This is without a doubt the best other-worldly book that C. J. Barry has written thus far…this book totally captivated me…Action packed adrenalin rushing adventure kept me glued to the pages of this book.” —Kathy Boswell, The Best Reviews
“The star-crossed in love lead pair is a wonderful coupling while the support crew from Oliver to the enemy make this a fabulous journey into space as only C.J. Barry can escort readers.” —Harriet Klausner Amazon reviewer, FIVE stars
“You will not want to miss this latest Un-Book by C.J. Barry.” —Rose! Romance at Heart
“I raced through this story and now want more.” —Karen Larsen, Scribes World Reviewer’s Choice