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The Coalition Rebellion Series: High-Flying, Science Fiction-Infused Romance

A longtime genre fiction reader, I first heard the term “keeper” used by romance readers. There’s something about particular romance novels that makes readers want to keep them for rereading and remembering. These are the sorts of books we are sorry to see end; I often reread the last chapters right away to experience them all over again. Among my personal keepers are books by RWA Hall of Fame author Justine Davis, especially her Coalition Rebellion series: Lord of the Storm (1994), Skypirate (1995), Rebel Prince (2015), The Raider (2017), and her short story, “The Kingbird” (2015).

Despite the many accolades the early books accrued, the series was discontinued, leaving fans heartbroken. Then Bell Bridge Books published Rebel Prince and reissued the earlier titles, adding The Raider this year. But the series—and Davis herself—remain virtually unknown within library review media, something I hope this post remedies.

The basic premise of the series, a futuristic romance set in a planetary solar system like ours, is how good people on subjugated planets fight back against the oppressive, militaristic and cruel Coalition—sometimes with the help of former Coalition insiders who have turned against it. In Lord of the Storm, Coalition pilot Shaylah Graymist encounters a slave named Wolf at the home of her friend, Major Califa Claxton. Wolf has a collar embedded within his neck that can inflict pain or kill him. When Shaylah learns of this, she requests Wolf as her companion in order to to protect him. Soon, she is called to duty, only to discover that Wolf went berserk when she left, then was sold and sent to the worst Coalition prison. She decides to help him escape and learns who he really is. They return to Wolf’s home world of Trios, become Triotian bonded mates, and foment a rebellion.

Skypirate follows another Triotian, Dax Silverbrake, who believes himself to be one of only two Triotians left after the Coalition attack on his home planet. A space pirate, he spends his days stealing from the Coalition as revenge. While breaking his navigator out of prison, Dax meets Major Califa Claxton, now collared herself as punishment for allowing Wolf to escape. Dax takes Califa back to his ship and discovers she is a famous Coalition officer and tactician. As she comes to know and love him, and he to trust and love her, Califa realizes that Dax takes wild, unnecessary risks because he is upset that he did not die with the other Triotians. Dax soon learns that his friend, too, survived, and that a rebellion has started on Trios. He wants to go home, so he takes Califa with him.

Skypirate came out in 1995, leaving readers with a pregnant Shaylah carrying the next king of Trios, and an about-to-be-pregnant Califa carrying Dax’s daughter. Twenty years passed until Rebel Prince finally arrived. Before taking on official duties, Prince Lyon of Trios—the now-adult son of Shaylah and the king—visits the planet Arellia to attend a celebration of the Coalition’s defeat. Following him is Dax and Califa’s daughter, Shaina, Prince Lyon’s childhood friend, to whom he is increasingly attracted in an adult way. Unfortunately for both of them, one of the Coalition’s most hated men is stalking them in hopes of regaining favor by capturing the prince of Trios. On top of this, the Coalition is secretly planning another attack on Arellia in order to retake Trios. Only a man named Tarkson warns them of the impending attack, but they don’t believe him. While saving Arellia, Shaina and the prince discover their feelings for each other are mutual. A secondary love story involves Rina, the young Triotian girl Dax saved as a child, and Tarkson, whom they all believed dead.

The Raider, the series’ most recent installment, concerns a rebellion against the Coalition on the planet Ziem. A mysterious, disfigured man fights the Coalition while another man with a famous family name poses as an obsequious tavern owner. Identities come to light, characters find love, the Coalition is defeated, and the rebels learn they are not alone.

Mere plot descriptions do no justice to these books’ exquisite romance. Although their science fiction elements are complicated, the series is filled with all the emotional appeals of good romance fiction: joy, discovery, misunderstanding, secrets, longing for redemption, and loyalty. All the books deliver perfect endings that beg to be reread often. All of them make the reader regret closing the last page while longing for the next book. All belong in library collections.

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mchelton@optonline.net'

About the Author:

Mary K. Chelton, Ph. D. Rutgers University, and Professor Emeritus, Queens College GSLIS, characterizes herself as an advocate for various neglected and stigmatized categories of library users such as teenagers, adoption searchers, genre fiction readers in general and romance readers in particular, of which she is pleased to be one (favorite authors are Nora Roberts, Suzanne Brockmann, Justine Davis and M. L. Buchman). She is co-founder of Voice of Youth Advocates journal and has published over 60 articles in library literature. She has 20+ years experience as a public librarian. She is also a winner of ALA’s prestigious Grolier Award for outstanding work with young people, and the Romance Writers of America’s first ever Librarian of the Year. A Maryland native, Chelton now lives in Suffolk County, NY with three dogs, all Vizslas. She is vice-president of the Vizsla Club of Long Island, and also an official member of the So You Think You Can Dance fan club, an avid romance and thriller reader, usually on audio books, and a passionate collector of Northwest Indian art and Hmong textiles. She also grows African Violets for show.

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