Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

Captain Eva Innocente sometimes despairs at the jobs she must take to stay out of anything shady. With her family’s background, she doesn’t want to be drawn into the criminal underbelly of space. So that’s why she’s transporting 100 psychic kittens in her hold, and they’re not the most cooperative cargo. When her sister is taken hostage by The Fridge, Eva must face the world she left behind.

Chilling Effect was loads of fun, the psychic cats turned out to be adorable rather than evil, and the found family of the crew is heart-warming. Eva’s crew is made up of Min the pilot, whose mind is connected to the ship’s, Leroy an ex soldier suffering from PTSD, Pink the straight-speaking medic, and Vakar the engineer who emotes using smells and Eva might just a have a bit of a crush on.

Eva has a smell translator installed so she can better understand Vakar. With all the alien cultures going on, the Quennians were probably the best established due to their relationship. Eva spends time trying to really understand the smells he gives off, but forever being confounded by the liquorice coming off him. She’s also allergic to him, as she found out when they first met, which is only one of the reasons she shouldn’t get involved.

The Fridge is a criminal organisation that keeps its hands clean by using coercion, kidnapping and blackmail to get everyone else to do their dirty work. The jobs don’t make much sense to Eva, but she does them anyway to keep her little sister from a life of slavery. When the jobs start getting more and more dangerous, it gets harder to lie to her crew about what she’s doing.

Oh yeah, she’s also being chased by the galaxy’s greatest sexual harasser, a fish-faced emperor who wants Eva for his harem and won’t take no for an answer. He is powerful and rich, and his ego is bruised, so his pursuit of her is endless.

Each different job did feel more like a story than part of an ongoing plot, with a lot of new aliens and customs to pick up, and I didn’t always keep up. Maybe something was missing to really gel it together, as by the end there seemed to be a bit more cohesion. I did love the crew dynamics so I would definitely consider reading the next book.

Valerie Valdes is a Cuban-American and her main character takes some of that background into space, with her language peppered with Spanish, also providing some creative cursing.

Chilling Effect is published by Orbit and is available now in paperback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: 8. A book with an upside-down image on the cover

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