Rimrunners is a science fiction novel set in C. J. Cherry's Union-Alliance universe, chronologically after Downbelow Station.
Veteran Fleet Marine Master Sergeant Elizabeth "Bet" Yeager is one of those left behind on Downbelow Station when Conrad Mazian is forced to launch his battle fleet on an unsuccessful coup attempt against Earth prematurely. With the Fleet outlawed by all three human space powers, Bet is constantly on the run, using fake identities to get work on freighters. All she wants is a permanent berth somewhere, anywhere.
Bet ends up stranded on a decaying, dead-end space station. She is reduced to sleeping with a sleazy bartender to avoid starvation, but has to kill him when he becomes too controlling and suspicious. Desperate to get off the station before his body is found, she signs up with the only available ship in port.
Loki isn't your average, legitimate, family-run freighter, but rather a "spook" in the business of selling information. Her crew consists of unrelated personnel who have formed cliques. Bet falls in love with an outcast (a sullen younger man named Ramey) and makes friends and enemies.
When the officers learn that she was a Fleet Marine, Bet's loyalties are questioned, especially since Loki is presently engaged in hunting down a very dangerous Fleet ship. When the shooting starts, however, she proves herself and earns a secure place aboard Loki.
Best part of story, including ending:
It's a very gritty, very believable story of life in the lower reaches of the Alliance.
Best scene in story:
When she becomes friends with Musa, she learns that he claims to have been a crewman on one of the original "sublighters" (which to her is ancient history), something that is possible due to time dilation. It's an interesting hard science detail.
Opinion about the main character:
Bet is tough, not squeamish about doing whatever it takes to survive, but she also has a warm feminine side.