"Fortune's Hero" is the first novel of Jenna Bennett's
Soldiers of Fortune series
Jenna is answering questions
in the comment section below!
Jenna, it’s wonderful to have you on Ravishing Romances!
Thank you so much for allowing me to visit; I’m thrilled to be here!
Q: Fortune’s Hero is a sci-fi romance based…where? The blurb mentions planet Marica and Marica-3.
A: That’s right. A galaxy far, far away... J
Marica is a rural and agricultural world with two moons, not very technologically advanced at all, and with no important geological features or for that matter any important natural resources. No gold or uranium or anything exciting like that. It’s just your average planet floating around out there in space. Under normal circumstances it wouldn’t be very desirable to anyone but the Maricans. But it happens to be positioned near a wormhole, and so the Rhenians – quite a military people with delusions of grandeur – have decided to lay siege to Marica.
The Maricans, obviously, aren’t too happy about that. At the moment, the Rhenians have subdued most of the planet, but there are still pockets of resistance here and there, and things flare up occasionally.
Fortune’s Hero takes place entirely on Marica-3, which is the second Marican moon, farthest from the planet. When the Rhenians staged their invasion of Marica three years ago, they built their prison colony there. There are a hundred thousand prisoners and ten thousand guards up there, and the complex is so big it can be seen from Marica itself, three shipdays away.
The crew from the Good Fortune ended up on Marica-3 as a result of being caught ferrying a shipment of arms to the Marican insurgents. It’s been about four months, and they’re more than ready to depart. Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. The only way on or off Marica-3 is in the prison shuttle, and the only way to leave is if you’re dead. The only people on Marica-3 are the ones in the prison complex. And then there are the flesh-burrowing worms and the spider-scorpions and the poisonous derma-lizards outside the prison, not to mention the heat during the day and the freezing temperatures at night. Oh yes, and the ice cold underground rivers. And nothing to eat.
Q: Quinn, the hero in Fortune’s Hero, takes heroine Elsa as a hostage, yet she professes her love first. Was this hard to write? It must have been difficult for Elsa to trust Quinn after that.
A: Actually, it’s the other way around. Elsa has no problem trusting Quinn; it’s Quinn who has no reason to trust Elsa. She’s spent the past four months trying to get him to tell her what he knows about the Marican resistance. And her methods – and those of her boss, Doctor Sterling, head of the “medical team” on Marica-3 – haven’t been pleasant.
Quinn treats her a lot better than she has any right to expect. She knows it, too.
But yes, the book was hard to write. Two people from opposite sides of a war, one of whom has been responsible for imprisoning and torturing the other, now have to depend on one another for survival...it’s an enormous amount of baggage to get over.
How do you forgive someone for torturing you to death, over and over again, only to revive you so she can do it again? How can you trust someone who’s done that to you?
And how can you trust someone you’ve done it to, when you know he has no reason to wish you well, but your life is in his hands?
Q: The blurb mentions Quinn has a girlfriend in the beginning. If we read Fortune’s Hero will we find out what happens to her?
A: Afraid not. You’ll find out what part she played in landing Quinn and his crew in prison, but Quinn has no idea what’s been going on with her over the past four months, and Elsa doesn’t know either. Quinn has a pretty good idea, though. Or thinks he does. But if you want to know what really happened to Josie, you’ll have to wait for book 2. J
Q: What heat rating can readers expect during Fortune’s Hero?
A: I’m not really a good person to ask this question, I think, because I once wrote a short story I thought was pretty racy, and people kept telling me how sweet and romantic it was. And then there was the book I thought was light and funny, that RT Book Reviews said was “hot.”
There’s one love scene in Fortune’s Hero. It comes about two thirds of the way through, so it isn’t about gratuitous sex. It’s not very explicit either, although a couple of people who have read it told me it’s steamy. It’s more about emotions and impressions and sensations than it is about graphic details, though. A love scene with sex, more than a sex scene, if that makes sense. Six of one and half a dozen of the other, I guess, but for what it’s worth... I don’t think it’ll offend anyone.
In addition to that, Quinn’s a guy, so he’s going to notice what Elsa looks like, especially during that one scene early on when he has to make her strip at gunpoint to make sure she’s not carrying a tracker...
It’s not one of those books where the characters are forever ogling one another and having lascivious thoughts, though.
If I had to pick a number between one and ten, the heat level’s probably around four or five. Maybe six. Hopefully whatever it is, is appropriate for the book; that’s the most important thing, after all. But Fortune’s Hero is first and foremost an action-adventure – what my editor calls “Indiana Jones meets Star Trek” – so the sex is secondary to the plot and the love story. The cherry on the sundae, if you will.
I just hope it’s satisfying when it happens, and not just for Quinn and Elsa. J
Q: This is book one of your Soldiers of Fortune series. Are the future heroes and heroines in Fortune’s Hero?
A: Heroes, yes. Heroines, no.
The series follows Quinn’s crew, the crew of the Good Fortune, which is a freighter and a smuggling vessel. The first book, obviously, is about Quinn. He’s the captain and owner of the Good Fortune.
Book 2, tentatively titled Fortune’s Honor, is about Holden Sinclair, the ship’s translator. He’s younger than Quinn by a few years, still in his twenties, and something of a linguistic genius. Six years ago, he helped Quinn negotiate for the Good Fortune, and they’ve been travelling together ever since. Among other languages, Holden speaks fluent Marican and Rhenish, as well as Standard, which is the universal language of the books. For all intents and purposes I guess it’s English. Quinn’s from Dublin, anyway, so that sort of makes sense.
So far, it looks like book 3, Fortune’s Hope, is about Toby Flatt, the Fortune’s mechanic or monkey: the guy who swings around the outside of the ship in zero-gee, making repairs. He’s the oldest of the crew, 36, and I think he’s been married once. I’m not too sure though, because I haven’t started writing his book yet, and he hasn’t really talked to me a lot.
The last book will be about Isaac Miller, who’s a mercenary the rest of the crew picked up some two years ago. He offered them protection in return for passage home, and then he ended up staying with them. I know very little about Isaac or about his book, since it’s close to a year until I’ll be writing it. As far as I can tell at this time, it’ll be called Fortune’s Hour, and it’s the culmination of the series. Although that could change by the time I get there, too.
As for the heroines, I know who Holden ends up with. I have a pretty good idea about Toby, but the jury is still out on Isaac. There are a couple different options right now, and it depends on what happens in the next two books. I still have to write the end of Holden’s book and all of Toby’s, and these things change, you know? Characters you think will survive, don’t, and characters you think are bad turn out to be good and vice versa.
But all four of them will get their HEAs by the end of four books, and in some way or other they’ll probably end up saving the world too, or at least their own hides.
Q: Lastly, can you give us a snippet of Fortune’s Hero?
A: Gladly. Here are the first couple of pages of chapter 1, so you can see just where Quinn and Elsa start out.
Quinn Conlan was bleeding to death.
Slowly, steadily, one drop at a time. One big-ass drop. He could feel the mechanism at his wrist working, opening and closing the artery to let the blood ebb and flow. At this rate, he calculated, it would take him about an hour to bleed out.
Down on the floor, a few of the drops turned into a trickle, and he watched as it made its slow way to the big drain in the middle of the room. And down it went, soon to be followed by others. Many others.
He put his head back and closed his eyes.
It wasn’t a bad way to go. It wouldn’t be quick, but it was mostly painless. A slight burn in his wrist every time the mechanism opened to let another few minutes of his life hit the floor. But compared to the other things that had been done to him in this room, it was nothing. The med tech had made sure of that. They weren’t trying to hurt him. Not this time. By now, they must have realized that pain wouldn’t make him talk. Been there, done that. Kept his mouth shut. So they’d decided to let him sit here instead, perfectly still, perfectly conscious, perfectly unable to move, as he watched his life drain away, drop by drop by drop. An hour from now, when his limbs were weak and darkness started to descend over his eyes, they’d expect him to call for help. That he’d start babbling, and tell them what they wanted to know.
They’d brought him within a hairsbreadth of death before and revived him each time. Always their choice, never his. And this time would be no different. He wouldn’t call for help, and they’d wait until it was almost too late to save him—almost, but not quite—and then they’d bring him back. Again.
Damn Rhenians. Never satisfied.
Quinn never thought there’d come a day when he’d welcome death. Always figured he’d fight to the bitter end. Beat death, or die trying. But when it came down to it, it hadn’t taken long. Just a few months in the prison camp on Marica-3, and weekly sessions with the camp’s medical team—the best in the galaxy, both when it came to bringing a prisoner to death’s door and to making sure he didn’t walk through it—and here he was, ready and willing to die.
Hell, scratch ready and willing. Try eager. He’d die now, this hour, this very minute, if he could cheat them out of being able to revive him again. If he could will himself stone dead right now, he’d do it.
A sound at the door brought his head up. The exsanguination must be happening more quickly than he thought, because it was already a little harder to move, and a little more difficult to make his eyes focus.
“Good afternoon, Captain Conlan.”
A woman. They’d sent him a fucking woman.
And not just any woman. He recognized this one. She’d been at his earlier sessions, standing in the background taking notes while the doctor injected him with something that made him feel like he was being boiled alive. She’d watched out of those cool, green eyes as he writhed in pain and screamed until his voice was gone. Writing on her goddamn clipboard. With not a flicker of emotion on that perfect alabaster face.
Quinn wet his lips and cajoled his rusty vocal chords into cooperating. “Come to watch the big finish, sweetheart?”
Her eyes flicked to his, the clear green of glacier ice under brows the shape of bird wings. “It doesn’t have to end this way.”
Her voice was lovely, as cool and clear as those eyes. And as devoid of emotion. If he’d had the strength, Quinn would have laughed. As it was, all he could manage was a smile, and a weak one at that. “Sure it does.”
She monitored the progress of the blood flow from his wrist between glances at his face. “You could tell them what they want to know.”
Them. Like she wasn’t part of the same unholy alliance.
Quinn shook his head. “Sorry, sweetheart. Not gonna happen.”
One of those exquisite eyebrows raised. “You would rather take the whereabouts of the rebels to the grave with you? I’m not so sure they would return the favor. Are you certain you aren’t sacrificing yourself for nothing?”
It would be almost laughable if he wasn’t twenty minutes from bleeding to death.
“I think we both know that ain’t gonna happen, sweetheart. Ten minutes from now, just when I think it might be too late to revive me, someone’s gonna run in here and pump me full of synthetic blood. And next week I’ll be back in this room with high and mighty Doctor Sterling and his toys again. We both know it, so let’s just stop pretending.”
He looked away. Down to the floor in time to see another sizable trickle of blood head down the drain.
For a second, nothing happened. Then he heard her heels click on the floor, a quick, angry rhythm. At the door, she turned for a final salvo. “You think you’re so smart, Captain Conlan. But we’re smarter. You’ll see.”
The door opened and shut with a slam.
“Yeah, yeah,” Quinn said, and closed his eyes again to wait for the darkness. With any luck, he’d be unconscious for a day or two before he woke up and realized he was back in hell.
# # #
There you have it. Quinn and Elsa, and Fortune’s Hero.
Thanks so much for having me on Ravishing Romances, and thanks for reading. If you decide to give Quinn’s story a try, I hope you’ll enjoy it!
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New York Times bestselling author Jennie Bentley/Jenna Bennett writes the Do It Yourself Home Renovation mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime
and the Cutthroat Business mysteries for her own gratification.
For Entangled Publishing, she writes a variety of romance,
from contemporary to futuristic, and from paranormal to romantic suspense.
Fortune’s Hero is her most recent release, and first in the Soldiers of Fortune series of futuristic romantic suspense novels.
For more information about Fortune’s Hero or any of her other books,