AfterEllen’s Summer of Love: “T-Minus Two” by KG MacGregor

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Every Friday through September, we’ll be posting a review of a lesbian/bi-themed romance novel as part of our Summer of Love. Miss the first few? Read them here.

Over 40,000 applied, but of 256 viable candidates only two will make it to…Mars!

It’s the challenge of our lifetime–the colonization of the Red Planet. But before humankind can settle in, two of the world’s best and brightest must lay the foundations. If they happen to fall in love along the way, well, that’s just a bonus. It’s also the premise of KG MacGregor’s T-Minus Two.

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Bulgarian-born and Berlin-raised Mila Todorov is a tenacious young thing. As the engineer behind the propulsion design built into the Mars vessel, she knows she already has an edge over most of the candidates. It’s the potential company, however, that motivates her the most. Major Jancey Beaumont, a former NASA astronaut who’s been to space, is Mila’s idol as well as her long-time crush. And it just so happens that she’s also vying for a spot aboard Tenacity.

There’s no sexual confusion here. Mila and Jancey are both out lesbians, and after a nine-year relationship with a woman 21 years her senior, Mila knows she prefers older women. But Jancey’s love of space has meant the end of every relationship she’s ever had, making her reluctant to open up her heart again.

What’s more, Jancey is determined to grab one of those two spots because while she can wait the four required years for the first launch, she doesn’t believe at her age she can wait any longer than that. This means she can’t afford any distractions, and Mila Todorov is definitely a distraction.

Mila knows better though. They’re the perfect pair. They’re an international duo, they’re two women (meaning they’ll use up less resources and adapt to the physical limitations of life in space better than men), and with her skills as an engineer and Jancey’s at cultivating food, they’re the program’s best bet. And you better believe that if she’s spending her life in Mars with the Major, she’s going to make Jancey fall for her.

She says as much. “’You know as well as I do we’ll become lovers eventually. We’re just postponing the inevitable.’” That line comes in chapter 15, and there are only 23 chapters. Yeah, it’s a slow build.

MacGregor is really methodical about the mission selection process. From the written exams to the physical exercises, you get a clear sense of how exhaustive it all is. I’ll tell you, if attention to detail is your thing, prepare to nerd out.

Of course there’s subterfuge too, because Mars isn’t a prize everyone’s willing to give up easily. And with Mila being the pushy person she is and Jancey so used to running, there’s certainly a lot of self-sabotage that happens too. It raises the question: can these two overcome all the obstacles and make it to…Mars?!

T-Minus Two is an enjoyable read, despite dragging on a bit too long before getting to the “good stuff”. The chemistry between Mila and Jancey is real, and when they finally do get down to business, it’s hot. While I have my issues with the characters on an individual level (mainly that Mila can be overly assertive and Jancey’s walls are higher than called for), these two make sense together. With that said, I wouldn’t mind reading a sequel where Todorov and Beaumont go about laying claim of Mars and each other.

T-Minus Two is available through Bella Books or Amazon.