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Kingdom of Acatalec (Acatalec, #1) by S.M. McCoy 

This magical and mysterious story had me in its grip from cover to cover! 

Tyler Beryl is making her way as a remote drone monitor for Zeiten Drone Transportation company, waiting for the day when she can promote to a pilot’s position. It’s a soul-sucking job made only slightly less heinous by breaking a company rule here and there, illicitly practicing her piloting skills while on the job, and dreaming of the day she’ll escape her cubicle for a better gig. Oh, and by irritating the heck out of her mean-girl coworker, Jessi, by beating her in the piloting standings despite her frequent tardiness. 

Tyler and her best friend, Kelly, score extra credits participating in the after-hours illegal drone races whenever possible. As things stand now, Zeiten doesn’t pay enough to get ahead, and Tyler, dependent upon a wheelchair since a childhood accident, longs for an upgrade to a better model. 

Coming in late, as usual, Jessi confronts Tyler yet again. The drone monitoring system had undergone a software update earlier that morning, and since Tyler hadn’t been there to check out the results, Jessi had performed the task for her. 

Tyler should have known something was up because as soon as she initiated the program, one of the drones had obviously failed the update, and a passenger was already onboard. To avoid a tragic accident, Tyler must quickly take control and remotely pilot the drone and its passenger safely to their destination, hoping no one will notice it is being manually manipulated. However, the passenger’s destination turns out to be Zeiten headquarters, and the passenger is no other than Zeiten’s CEO, Mr. Perfect–Cable Azel. It doesn’t take long for Tyler to be summoned to the CEO’s office. 

Kingdom of Acatalec is the first book in the new Sci-fi Fantasy Romance series, Acatalec by author S.M. (Stevie) McCoy. With an intriguing plot that I could never predict where it was going and the most engaging and capable heroine this side of Farscape, this magical and mysterious story had me in its grip from cover to cover.

 The story is packed to the brim with fun and shady characters. The aforementioned main character, Tyler Beryl, is a combination of slacker and kick-ass go-getter. She is surrounded by supporting characters who may or may not be in her corner: her best friend, Kelly, former coworker and fellow drone pilot, Bailey, mean-girl coworker Jessi, her tasty boss, the perfect Mr. Cable Azel; and, of course, the Lord Prince. The slowly building romantic tension between Tyler and Cable was great, and I looked for more from that but deal-breaker because reasons. I was definitely wary of Prince Wyndall; he gave me the shivers, and not in a good way. But maybe I’ve made up my mind too quickly. We’ll see in the next book, perhaps. 

An intriguing development in the character lineup for this story, at least for me, is that Tyler is disabled. Injured in an accident at age eight, she uses a wheelchair that interfaces with her body, and some of her motivations for her actions come from her desire to acquire the funding to upgrade to a newer, more advanced version. The story is rife with twists and turns for Tyler as she tries to make her dream come true (or at least her life work out) and save her friend, Kelly when she becomes a bounty in a drone race. 

The book’s setting is a far future Earth where transportation is all accomplished in drones. Drone service is highly regulated for safety except for the illegal drone races hosted by some shady, illicit organization. I smile now, thinking that Tyler was initially worried that it was ‘The Mob.’ Be careful what you wish for, right? The author doesn’t give us the mundane, though. I loved that there was a secret alien society in existence, and they were the ones hosting the high-stakes race. I also enjoyed the sequences at the Servun desert camp and the exchanges among the warriors, Trasa, Tyler, and her companions had me laughing out loud. 

I absolutely enjoyed the descriptions of the drone simulations, races, and Tyler’s piloting skills. In some books, authors have trouble adequately conveying quick, intense airborne action sequences. I was delighted to find this was not the case here. The author nails the flow and maneuvers, and I could visualize the unfolding action easily. 

With twists and turns in an already highly creative plot, an engagingly sympathetic main character, and just the right amount of tech to please, I recommend THE KINGDOM OF ACATALEC to sci-fi/fantasy readers who enjoy a mysterious storyline with a side of romance. 

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tours.

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