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Susan Grant, . . Dorchester, $5.99 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-505-52499-7

Drawing on her experience as a commercial airline pilot, Grant (The Star Prince) brings a masterful realism to this otherworldly romance. United Airlines pilot Jordan Cady is promoted to captain when her 747 is captured en route to Hawaii and her captain dies from a heart attack. With the events of September 11 still fresh in her mind, Jordan initially believes the aircraft has been hijacked by terrorists, but she soon realizes that they've been pulled into the maw of an alien spaceship. Grant's "aliens" are less imaginative than one would expect. They look and act human, but they speak Key, the official language of the "Alliance," and possess loads of Star Trek–like gadgets. Using a high-tech translator, Kào, the scarred son of the ship's commander, reluctantly informs Jordan and her passengers that a comet has destroyed Earth. While Jordan sees to the comfort of her crew, she battles an ever increasing attraction to Kào, who has demons of his own to purge. Their romance plays out against the backdrop of the war between the Alliance and the Talagars, a race of amoral humans, which makes for an explosive finish. Readers who can get past the book's slow beginning and implausible premise will relish this emotionally charged aviation romance. (Oct.)