During an exploratory mission in space, a US Military ship is attacked by the Dusan' an aggressive race. When Captain Sara Donovan's ship is hit during battle, she crash lands on the planet of Kikk only to be saved by Keirnan Fyn, a tall alien who'd been stranded there. Seeing her remarkable recovery and her blunt candor, Fyn finds himself drawn to the unusual woman. Soon Sara and Fyn are picked up by her fellow soldiers. With his knowledge and flying ability, Fyn is seen as an asset and is given assignments.
A tender romance between the Sara and Fyn develops taking them both by surprise. While out flying, Sara is pulled into a deserted city. There she finds she can use her mind to communicate with a type of intelligence that seems to be there. She is told she is The Key. Upon further exploration into the city, she and Fyn discover a painting of a woman who looks like her. Because of the way she heals herself, how quickly she can learn and how she can communicate with computers, Sara has always known there was something different about her. But since her parents died unexpectedly when she was a young child, she never learned what the root of the difference was.
When Colonel Halliwell sets up a dinner with Adin Xever, a man who claims to be a Gadi leader, Sara attends. Adin is taken by Sara and propositions her. Sara finds him condescending and tells him 'no.' Worried about Adin's keen interest in Sara, her Halliwell grounds Sara in an attempt to keep her safe. She is given the task of exploring the city she'd found accompanying other military personnel. Though Sara doesn't understand it, her kinship with the city's 'artificial intelligence' strengthens. Again she is told she is The Key but Sara is dumbfounded by what that means. At one point, she unwittingly enters a room and is transported to another planet. She finds herself face-to-face with someone she knows and discovers that person has deceived the US Military and is the Dusan leader.
The Dusan leader continues to attack the Americans. Having been attacked twice, the Americans are caught in the middle of a raging war between the Dusan and the Gadi. The Dusan have been slowly conquering planets. While the Americans could simply leave Halliwell believes, left unchecked, the Dusan will become a force that will eventually take over Earth. Though grossly outnumbered by the Dusan, the American's work with the Gadi to fight back in an epic battle.
With novels getting shorter, The Key, running nearly 150,000 words, is refreshing. It allows the reader to inhabit Sara's and Fyn's worlds in a way a shorter story couldn't have. Luckily, Sara is such a kick-ass heroine, you'll be glad for the chance to spend the time with her. Her caustic wit shines and she constantly does the unexpected. The Key was good in every way a novel can be. It's an engrossing story with full character development and growth. There is an ultimate battle between good and evil and Ms. Baird Jones even makes the villain likable on some levels. For me, The Key is one of those rare books that strengthened my love of reading. Thanks for the story Pauline.
Special Notes: Reviewer's Choice
When Sara Donovan joins Project Enterprise she finds out that what doesn't kill her makes her stronger.
An Air Force pilot - the best of the best to be assigned to this mission - Sara isn't afraid to travel far beyond the Milky Way on an assignment that takes her into a galaxy torn apart by a long and bitter warfare between the Dusan and the Gadi.
After she's shot down and manages to land safely on an inhospitable planet, Sara encounters Kiernan Fyn - a seriously hot alien with a few secrets of his own - he's a member of a resistance group called the Ojemba, lead by the mysterious and ruthless Kalian. Together they must avoid capture, but can they avoid their growing attraction to each other?
A mysterious, hidden city on the planet brings Sara closer to the answers she seeks - about her baffling abilities and her mother's past. She has no idea she's being pulled into the same danger her mother fled - the key to a secret left behind by a lost civilization, the Garradians.
The Dusan and the Gadi want the key. So do the Ojemba. They think Sara has it. They are willing to do anything to get it.
Sara will have to do anything to stop them.