Review: Mindscape by Tal Valante

December 23, 2013 Review 10

Review: Mindscape by Tal Valante

The truth will set you free.

Mark Sayre joins the Interstellar Navy for the money—his only goal is to keep his little brother out of the colony mines that sent their father to an early grave. With concepts like duty and honor floating high over his head, he hardly expects to fall for the serious, idealistic Shane Cawley. Not to mention that Shane is his commanding officer . . . and his Resonance partner, a one-in-ten-thousand mental connection so profound that they can travel in each other’s mindscapes.

Shane Cawley is carrying on the family tradition by serving in the Interstellar Navy. He hardly expects to fall for the quirky, happy-go-lucky Mark Sayre. But as the Resonance between them grows, neither can deny what he feels for the other.

When war breaks out, Mark and Shane find their military training and their Resonance link tested to the edge of sanity. Shane is haunted by memories and flashbacks, and Mark becomes trapped in his own mindscape. But with help from an unlikely ally, they may be able to salvage their futures and the love they share.

Title: Mindscape
Author: Tal Valante
Published by Riptide Publishing
Source: Author
Published: December 23rd 2013
Genres: Male Male Romance, Sci Fi Romance
Pages: 94
See the title at Goodreads
Purchase your copy: Visit the Author's Website

Stars: four-stars

I found Mindscape by Tal Valante to be a fascinating story. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a Sci-Fi story as much as I have Mindscape. This is a short read, I finished it in just over an hour, and yet I still felt it was a fairly good length. I really enjoyed the story line as well as the characters and frankly, I had a hard time putting this book down.

The story was told from two different time periods; flashbacks and here and now. I can see why some people can struggle with this concept. It can be annoying and somewhat distracting from the story. It took me a bit to get into the flow but once I did, it felt very normal. The flashbacks are from Mark’s POV, his beginning military career, his involvement with Shane and the war. The current time is Shane’s POV as he struggles to help Mark. You can feel the genuine emotions each have for one another and the struggles and sacrifices they are willing to suffer through to stay together. I know some readers may shy awake because this is a male/male romance, however, since there is no sexual content any more than a kiss, no one should be offended.

Sometimes I find novella can be very short and sometimes rather unsatisfying. This was not the case with Mindscape. I found it to be a refreshing change and hope the other books by Tal Valante are just as engaging because I intend to read them as well. Consider this book recommended reading.



Guest Post

Hello and welcome to the online tour of Mindscape! Thank you for joining me here on my third stop, and thank you to The Jeep Diva for having me.

If you’ve been following the tour so far, you’ve heard about my giveaway. I’m raffling off three $10 gift certificates at the end of this tour. For a chance to win, simply comment on this post with an answer to the following questions: would you join the Spavy, and why? Winners will be picked randomly from all tour stops, and will be announced on 12/29. Drop me a comment at each stop to increase your chances of winning!

And now, for an exclusive excerpt from the book that includes the very first plot twist. I recommend you read the excerpt on Riptide’s site first, because this is a direct continuance:


It was different when it wasn’t playing tag.

The first time they’d gone after raiders, Mark felt a whole different kind of song in his blood. He kicked off from the Cyclopes and took his place in the formation of fighters. Up ahead, a raider’s loot ship idled with glowing engines; it had just Punched through space and was stuck here for at least five minutes. The enemy fighters swarmed around it in a defensive pattern.

A blip called Mark’s attention to his console. On his radar screen, one of the enemy fighters had turned red. Mark’s target, fed in by Shane. Mark heated up his weapons and rolled his shoulders while the rest of the wing took formation around him.

“All fighters, you have your targets,” came Shane’s voice in his ears. “Engage.”

Mark pulled the throttle to full force and took off in the enemy’s direction. His hands remembered months of training, and he swept in on a gentle arc. The enemy fighters opened fire, and Mark spun and dove under the volley, then came up on his target from below.

“I’ve got a lock,” he reported, and squeezed off a tight barrage from his forward cannons. It was a good shot, beginner’s luck. The enemy fighter exploded in a bright, brief ball of flames, immediately quenched by space’s vacuum.




“Fighter Three, engage the enemy!”

“Fighter Three, move!”

“Fighter Three! Look out! Sayre!”

Mark started and looked up. The enemy’s main vessel loomed over him like a leviathan. He yanked on the control stick and managed, barely, to skirt its hull. A barrage of shots

followed him like a pack of angry wolves. At this range, one direct hit would end him. Mark pulled up sharply, and his fighter obeyed, but then shuddered, struck. The engines? No, only the aft thrusters. Mark’s heart started beating again.

“Fighter Three, report.”

Mark spun his fighter around and fired the damaged thrusters, bringing his vessel to a standstill in space. He licked his lips. God, he’d been two degrees off death. The pilot he’d shot down hadn’t been that lucky; Mark couldn’t even see the debris of his fighter. He felt frozen throughout. Numb. There’d been a person in that fighter, dammit, a pilot just like himself—

“Sayre. Switch to private channel.”

Mark did so with trembling hands.

“Okay, it’s okay,” Shane said in his ears, soft and warm. “I need you to snap out of it. Look at your console.”

Mark looked. Another enemy fighter lit up in red—his new target.

“I can’t,” he said.

“It’s okay,” Shane said again. “Take the control stick. Nice and easy.”

Mark did. “I just killed a man,” he whispered.

“I know. But these bastards just blew up a passenger ship from Earth. They killed innocents, and they’ll do so again the next chance they get. Can you risk that happening?”

Mark shook his head slowly, then remembered that Shane couldn’t see him. “No.”

“Open the throttle,” Shane said, and Mark obeyed as if his hands belonged to someone else. His fighter began to accelerate toward the battlefield, where his wing mates and the raiders were tearing at each other like a pack of mad dogs.

An urgent blip. His tactical system warned, “Target locked.” He thought he should do something about it, but wasn’t sure what.

“Evasive,” Shane whispered in his ear.

Mark evaded.

“Circle back around him . . . Lock your weapons . . .”

Mark circled and locked. He could almost feel Shane’s hands guiding his own across the console,

helping him press the buttons and work the stick. He squeezed off a barrage of shots, and the fighter lost its aft thrusters. Another of the Cyclopes’s fighters finished him off, and a new red target lit on Mark’s console.

“Now get this bastard for me . . .”

Mark did.

# # #

Two weeks later, Shane can’t resist it anymore. Slowly, gently, like a lover’s first shy kiss, he brushes his mind against Mark’s. Just for a second. Just to see what miraculous landscape Mark is exploring on his own. But what he does glimpse is enough to shake him to the core.

Mark’s mind is a field of death.

There are bodies everywhere and wounded men crying for help; some shot-down spacecraft, a torn flag. There’s a circle of cages with half-starved, half-naked people in them. And in the middle of it all, a metal cage with bars so thick and tight that Shane can’t see a thing inside. Which doesn’t stop him from knowing instantly, in his guts and heart, that Mark is in there.

Shane pulls out and retches in the bushes for five minutes, until a heavy hand lands on his back, and he recoils, stumbling.

“Sorry,” Nurse Park says.

“Alex,” Shane rasps.

“You all right, man?”

“Yeah. No. Just . . .”

“Lemme get you some water.”

Shane drains the plastic cup, wishes he had some more, then smiles weakly when Alex whips another cup from behind his back.

“You’re a lifesaver.”

“Only doing my job. What happened?”

Shane doesn’t want to tell him about the Resonance link. He’s ashamed of having touched Mark so intimately in his vulnerable state, and—at the same time—ashamed he hasn’t done it sooner. He doesn’t know how to explain the terrible images in Mark’s mind. He doesn’t know

what to do about them. He only knows that something must be done.

The war may be over, but Mark is still a POW.

# # #

About the author:

Tal’s passion in life is building worlds, whether digital ones using programming languages, or literary ones using plain ol’ English.

When she’s not buried neck-deep in code, you can find her editing manuscripts, designing fantasy worlds, or torturing characters in her own original works.

You can get Tal going forever on her favorite subjects with a few well-placed words, such as “Babylon 5” and “Assassin’s Creed.” A word of caution, though: “forever” means just that . . .

Connect with Tal: Website, Goodreads

Read an excerpt and order online at Riptide Publishing!



10 Responses to “Review: Mindscape by Tal Valante”

  1. Trix

    I honestly can’t say. On the one hand, I’d like to think I would if I felt I could benefit society. Then again, I don’t know the circumstances there, and how they’d push me one way or another…

  2. lavendersbluegreen

    would you join the Spavy, and why…
    Of course is my off the cuff answer. Big ol’ Trekkie me… I guess maybe a better answer though is that I don’t know whether I’d join… I need to read your book and get a feel for the relative universe… than I will know for sure.
    Thanks for the contest, and the thought provoking question!
    Happy Holidays all!

  3. Jbst

    I don’t know. I doubt that I could pass the physical requirements and probably would be of better use doing something technical etc. I really enjoyed the excerpts, which were very engrossing and the shifting POVs & timeline added a sense of mystery about what happened.

  4. Christine LaCombe

    Probably not, I am overweight and I also do not like fighting. It sounds like it would be interesting though. thanks for the giveaway. lacombejc at suddenlink dot net

  5. H.B.

    I’m not sure. I mean I know I may be physically unfit but if I was put through boot camp first and had support, maybe… I like the though of doing some good with my life.

  6. Tal Valante

    I think there are many ways of doing some good with your life. The Spavy is only one of them. 🙂

    Thanks for joining us here, Christine and H.B.!