I began reading Keir with no expectations, despite having read and loved a novella from the same author. I knew that Keir was Pippa's debut work, so I went into it with an less critical approach for that reason. What I got was a manuscript that read like it was written by a seasoned author. Pippa has a knack for painting scenes with descriptions that provide good details without floundering in it. Her characters, even the supportive cast, are strong, can stand on their own and are presented within a three-dimensional context. I think flat-characters would be eaten alive in the world that Pippa has created with Keir, which I have discovered while reading is part of the same universe for her upcoming YA sci-fi adventure release of [b:Gethyon|17701692|Gethyon|Pippa Jay|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1364597987s/17701692.jpg|24747078].
One further comment about the world building - Pippa uses a backwards or persistent world-building technique that may throw some readers off. This means that her characters think, react and converse in full knowledge of their own histories even if the reader has not yet been introduced or is aware of these histories. These histories are explained as the story develops that shed light on a conversation that you may have read a few chapters before. This is different from the progressive world-building technique that most authors use. There is nothing at all wrong with this approach, and it can add some nice plot-twist elements, you just need to trust that even if you don't fully understand the conversation two characters are having in one scene that it will be relevant and explained later on. Pippa does make all those scenes relevant and I didn't find any loose strings by the end of the story.
I will say that the beginning of this book had me scratching my head a little bit. The first couple of chapters read like a fantasy story more than a sci-fi book, but as the story develops you learn why. Pippa has created a book that mixes elements from fanatasy, science fiction and science fantasy. The fantasy elements come in to play because one of the planets in the book hasn't developed science yet, and so they treat science as witch-craft and even name the heroine, Quin, as the Red Witch, and Keir as The Blue Demon. The planet reminded me of earth during the Spanish Inquisition. Once I figured this out, the story came to life. I would almost recommend a prologue or a first chapter to set this up to avoid confusion or losing readers in the first couple chapters who are wondering if they did buy a Science Fiction book.
There are sci-fi fantasy elements with Time-Travel, Psi-powers, gateways and telepathy. Though this may turn off hard-core science fiction readers, I thought it was done very well and explained within a believable context.
Now, about the romance - It is a sweet, but tormented, romance. Both of the leads have some heavy baggage, each with a richly developed history that is explained throughout the book. Their is a strong connection between them to start, but neither of them throws themselves at the other (which is refreshing). Both have real reasons for proceeding cautiously or misinterpreting the actions or intentions of the other. The intimacy scenes, though not quite as hot as I like, were extremely well written and beautiful. I think it suited both characters.
And the ending. Oh the ending. OH THE ENDING... not going to say anything else except to encourage you to see this book to the very end. You will be glad you did.