Ashe is a time traveler and time fixer, both unusual and difficult jobs. Her assignment: Help fight off the baddie trying to hose Time. Her reward: Time kicks her somewhere and some when where she is stuck dealing with an alien warrior who is about to be erased.
Warrior and sometime bad guy, Vidor Shan wants to find his brother and get back to his life. Instead, he finds a beautiful alien in the middle of a crater on a planet that is suddenly unstable in ways that violate known laws of science.
Ashe claims that time is twitching and that someone is trying to not just kill Vidor, but erase him from all time. Vidor and Ashe must learn to trust each other even as the future changes before their eyes, transporting them from one dangerous adventure to another.
Click on an incredible journey that reviews call “the perfect ending to a favorite scifi series.”
I'm excited to bring the first excerpt of Kicking Ashe, the last book in Project Enterprise/Garradian Universe series (at least for now!). When we left Ashe as the end of Steamrolled, she'd landed somewhere and somewhen. In this excerpt, she learns about the challenges of first contact--in the past:
“How thoughtful.” Ashe produced the fake smile, saw this scientist note it. She took the packet, turning it to study its contents, too weary to wholly conceal that it puzzled her.
“Fresh soap, shampoo, a hair comb, and of course, a toothbrush and toothpaste.”
“Right.” Lurch had to explain everything but the comb. Ashe blinked, then smiled politely. “How quaint. And kind,” she hastened to add, before Lurch could chide her. “Very kind. Really…kind.”
“Quaint?” Calendria’s scientist look went turbo. “How do you brush your teeth?”READ MORE
Ashe blinked. The swing between high and no-tech was a bit much. “They are self cleaning.”
“And is your hair self combing?”
“No, but I usually use my fingers,” she admitted, fluttering the free hand’s worth of them as a sort of demo. An Earth hair stylist who specialized in vintage hair design had showed her the technique, since carrying a purse was not an option for a time tracker. And even when she could, weapons were always a higher priority than hair combs.
Calendria’s attention, not unnaturally, shifted to Ashe’s hair. Since she had headgear hair, Ashe was unsurprised when Calendria reflected Ashe’s mock-neutral tone back at her with an, “Interesting.”
If Calendria had more questions, she kept them to herself. “Shower, washing basin, and commode are through there. You’ll find towels on a shelf. There are robes in the changing areas. Dirty towels and robes are stowed in the laundry basket there when you finish.”
Ashe studied this laundry basket with some interest. It seemed very small to be a laundry unit for so extensive an encampment. “Interesting. May I examine?”
Calendria blinked. Twice. “Of course.”
Ashe approached it and waited.
“You lift the lid,” Calendria said, her tone hitting somewhere between amazed and dry.
“Oh.” Ashe lifted the lid and found it about half filled with discarded attire. “How do you trigger the mechanism?” When Calendria did not respond right away, Ashe looked at her. Found her blinking again.
“One of my staff removes the clothes to the laundry when it gets full.”
Ashe decided to return the blinking favor. And it gave her time to think of a not rude response. She hoped. “Oh.”
You should have thought a bit longer.
I didn’t call it quaint.
It was implied.
She began to understand the challenges of first contact. In some ways, it was much harder than Time repair. After another pause, Ashe produced a smile she worked to erase incredulity from, not easy at her current level of depletion. She lowered the lid on the primitive device. “I will be sure to deposit my used bath items in this useful place when I am finished.” Better?
He didn’t say meh, but it was also implied. Lurch was so pissy sometimes.
"KICKING ASHE by award winning author Pauline Baird Jones is the final awesome book in the Project Enterprise series...Fast paced suspense with just a dash of romance, KICKING ASHE is the perfect ending to a favorite sci/fi series."
on RT Book Reviews:
"Whether you prefer straight science fiction or like yours with a dash of romance, this is a very enjoyable read."
on Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf:
"Jones concludes her Project Universe series with this fun, fast-paced tale. Ashe is a tough, no-frills heroine with plenty of spunk and a lovable companion, her nanite Lurch, who steals the show with his snark. Filled with plenty of humor and sexual tension, this quick read is ideal for lovers of sci fi romance."
"This is a series of stories that I can see myself revisiting again in the future when I want something fast paced and fun with strong heroines and hunky heros, even if some of them are completely alien!"
"Pauline's novels are perfect for smart women on the move. Her heroines love adventure but are, at the core, still women….Kicking Ashe is an awesome read, so don't pass up the chance to experience Ashe, Vidor and Lurch's adventure."
The (mostly) true story behind the writing of Kicking Ashe
Read the book blurb here.
Not long after finishing my second or third book (I forget), I started a tradition of interviewing myself about the process of writing my latest book. It's the story behind the story that only I can know--and only I can coax out of myself. It's a little weird, but it helps me capture the things about the story that I'm sure I'll remember forever, but forget when I start the next book. So, without further fanfare, here is the Interview:
Me: This is, for now at least, the last book in your Project Enterprise series. How do you feel about reaching the end?
Myself: It's an odd mix of relieved and sad. When I wrote The Key, the book that launched Project Enterprise--not to mention my turn into writing science fiction romance--I had no idea it would grow into five novels and two short stories (in Dreamspell Steampunk and A Death in Texas anthologies). Nor did I suspect I would end up mixing up steampunk with my science fiction romance along the way.
Me: It has indeed been a strange journey, one that almost made our head explode.
Myself: Several times.
Me: There does seem to be a pattern emerging. What elements caused the near head exploding, do you think?
Myself: Duh. The time travel. And the steampunk mixed into the SFR.
Me: The duh was uncalled for. Ahem, it is true you had some concern about both, did you not?
Myself: Duh again. Since they almost made my head explode. And I wondered how readers would react to the steampunk.
Me: Since many of them had never heard of steampunk, it was a valid concern. What were some other problems you dealt with while mixing your steampunk into your SFR?
Myself: Researching fake science is, of course, always challenging. And just dealing with the whimsy and humor of steampunk proved challenging.
Me: Could you explain why?
Myself: Well, take the names. Someone has commented that my "transmogrification" machine sounds very Calvin and Hobbes, but it is actually a real word that means "to transform." In my real research of Victorian times, I noticed that inventions got kind of whack names, so I wanted to carry that into my characters' fictional inventions. It had the added benefit of being hard to pronounce with any dignity and I use that as a sort of running joke in the books that follow Tangled in Time, where the machine is introduced. I did realize that some readers might have trouble with my mix of genres.
Me: And that has never stopped you mixing them up before, has it?
Myself: (a bit sheepishly) No.
Me: Let's talk specifically about Kicking Ashe.
Myself: This is where you want me to confess that it was supposed to be a novella, right?
Me: They say confession is good for the soul.
Myself: Whose soul is it? Me, myself or I?
Me: Mine, of course.
Myself: Mine is here?
Me: Focus. In the past, you've written what have come to be known as the BABs (big ass books). This novella what wasn't, you call it….
Myself: The mini-BAB, because its about 68,000 words. Too much for a novella, but seriously shorter than a BAB. Happy now?
Me: Why yes, yes I am. (nod to Phineas and Ferb!)
Myself: I'll just pretend you asked and add that this book tells readers what happened to Ashe who got left in a precarious position at the end of Steamrolled.
Me: And there is another familiar character, is there not?
Myself: You know it. Vidor Shan, the semi-bad dude of Girl Gone Nova gets his chance to make some better, more heroic choices. I had not intended this, but got several requests to boost his heroic profile.
Me: Is this book another SFR/steampunk blend?
Myself: While some of the steampunk elements litter this story, it is primarily a science fiction romance adventure tale. And there is probably enough space action to qualify it as space opera, too.
Me: Any last words before we turn our attention to the next novel?
Myself: I hope that readers will feel satisfied with this series wrap up and enjoy Kicking Ashe more than, well, Ashe, cause she did get her tush kicked.
Me: Do we have a release date?
Myself: Is "soon" a release date?
Me: Perhaps we'll update this interview once we have something a bit more firm. (Update: yes, it did finally release!)