Earth Bound by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner
Series: Fly Me to the Moon (#2)
Published by: Amazon Digital Services
Genre: Historical Romance
Order at: Amazon
Reviewed by: Erin
What to Expect: A steamy secret romance, competence porn, science, math, tight, immersive writing, and the most repressed, smitten man in a historical since that Duke you loved so much.
Houston, Texas, 1961
The race to the moon is on, and engineer Eugene Parsons has two enemies: danger and distraction. Nothing is more distracting than his attraction to the brilliant, beautiful computer scientist on his team, but he’s determined to overcome it since he needs her to help America win.
Charlie Eason is used to men underestimating her. It comes with being a woman in engineering, but it’s worth it to join the space race—even if she can’t figure out what’s behind the intense looks one tightly wound engineer keeps sending her. But life isn’t as unemotional or predictable as code, and things soon boil over with the intriguingly demanding Parsons.
With every launch, their secret affair grows thornier. The lines between work and play tangle even as Parsons and Charlie try to keep them separate. But when a mission goes wrong, they’ll have to put aside their pride for the greater good—and discover that matters of the heart have a logic all their own.
This is my favorite book of 2016.
“But it’s only May,” you might be saying.
I know what I’m about, son. This is my favorite book of 2016. I would stand on street corners and hand it out to strangers. It will be the first book I rec to people in a reading slump. I. Love. This. Book.
This book has everything I love. A tense, terse, repressed, and utterly smitten hero. A glamorous math genius heroine. Competence porn for days. (Seriously. Did you love The Martian? Did you wish the Martian had more women and more oral sex? This is your book.) If you’re interested in ferociously competent people on the leading edge of the space race sciencing the shit out of things while having an explosively hot secret affair? This is the book for you.
Parsons, who was the antagonist of the previous book, Star Dust, is the hero of this book. Parsons is a harsh taskmaster who rules his department with an iron fist. Everyone is afraid of him. People whisper that he’s a robot behind his back. He demands perfection from everyone, and when they deliver, he wants more. But Parsons isn’t a robot. He’s a man who cares deeply about his work, to the exclusion of everything else. Those still waters running deep? They boil when he meets Charlie Eason.
Charlie is brilliant, easily a match for Parsons. She’s a computing genius who knows exactly how to play the games that ambitious women needed to play in the early 60s. She’s fought and scraped to get as far as she has, and she’s not going to let her attraction to Parsons derail her. I like the fact that the authors don’t go the expected route with Charlie’s parents; yes, she isn’t living up to their vision for her, but not in the way you might think. Charlie is stunningly beautiful, which she uses to her advantage with the men in positions of power over her, but never with the women in her life, a distinction I very much appreciated. Charlie befriends the women in her department, and appoints herself their champion.
The author include so much detail and nuance in a way that doesn’t ever feel overwhelming. They delve into the politics of the space program, both internally and in the larger political picture of the Cold War. You can also feel the effects and reverberations of WWII, still looming large in recent history, as well as hints of the cultural revolution to come later in the decade. Even Charlie’s position is presented in context; she can only go so far because she is a woman, but she can go further than Dot, the black woman who works with her. Charlie is treated better than the women who aren’t conventionally attractive, who don’t dress well. I appreciated all of these details, all of which serve to make the story even more immersive. You get glimpses of Charlie and Parsons’ families, enough to help you understand where they’re coming from, as well as the lack of understanding people had about the early days of the space race.
Okay, let’s be real. People still don’t really appreciate NASA like they should. NASA is awesome, guys.
And the romance? Ohhhhh the romance. I spent the first part of the book whimpering around my fist, “They’re going to hook up and it’s going to be so hot, oh god, they’re going to hook up and it’s going to be so hot…” Let me tell you, they hook up. And it’s SO HOT. This book nails so many great tropes: “let’s bang and pretend it doesn’t mean anything, but whoops feelings,” “secret romance,” “I’m cold to everyone else but you make me burn,” and my favorite, “frighteningly competent people in love.” Parsons is a repressed, trembling, smitten mess on the inside. He is desperate for her. He adores her. He respects and admires her so much. They are each other’s worst critic and best cheerleader. She lets him in, just a little bit at a time, without compromising or giving up who she is.
He uses the word “regard” very formally instead of saying he loves her and I died extensively on the inside.
Wait, why are you reading this review instead of reading the book? Go, click, read it. Tell the authors you love them. Wish hard that an Oscar Isaac lookalike genius engineer will be yours someday.
And wave hi to me as I stand on the street corner, still yelling about how much I love this book.
Things that might not work for you: If you’re in the mood for uncomplicatedly likable people, this isn’t the book for you. Parsons and Charlie both like to keep people at arm’s length. I also imagine this is one of those books where people complain about the heroine being too cold or not nice enough, which is the kind of negative review that gets me 1-clicking.
Things I loved: The romance made me swoon in the very best way a good romance can. I love the setting, the research, and the intense competence of the characters. You know what this book reminded me of? The Logan/Veronica kiss in Veronica Mars. Yeah. This book reaches that gold standard of “antagonists to desperately, secretly, explosively in love.”