Friday, May 9, 2008

SHADES OF DARK by Linnea Sinclair

First of all, a DISCLAIMER. I’ve had a terrible head-cold for this past week. If this review is less-than-stellar, it’s my fault. Not the author’s.
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Linnea Sinclair’s next novel, SHADES OF DARK, is the second in a series of which GABRIEL’S GHOST is the first. I highly recommend you pop over and read my review of that first, then this one. More than that, find a copy of GABRIEL’S GHOST and read it before SHADES OF DARK comes out in July. SHADES stands alone all right, but reading GABRIEL’S first will make it all the better.

In GABRIEL’S GHOST, Sully rescues court-marshaled captain Chas from a prison planet and recruits her to help him track down and destroy the Jukors. These are monsters being illegally bred to destroy humans and other despicable creatures. Besides being nasty dragon-like beings, they’re immune to telepathy. Although Sully is human, he has some telepathic abilities which would make him a target for the guys who hate alien telepaths. Linnea reviews all this and sets up the conflict for SHADES all in the first chapter and without resorting to an info-dump either. I won’t tell you what role Chas’ brother and ex-husband played in GABRIEL’S because I might ruin it for you, if you haven’t read that one yet. Suffice it to say, Chas’ brother, Thad, is arrested in SHADES OF DARK.
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Of course, Chas wants to run off and rescue her brother from the corrupt government officials holding him, but Sully realizes Thad is just bait. The baddies really want Chas and him and anyone else who is out to destroy the Jukors and their production.
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There’s a saying most Trekkies know- “Never trust an alien when he says he only wants to help.”
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No sooner has Chas, Sully, and their capable crew set off when they encounter another renegade officer- Dalby. The baddies want her dead because she knows too much, but her motives for helping out are more than suspect. She thinks Chas has influence with the Imperials which Chas just knows she doesn’t. Soon as she figures out Chas is on Sully’s ship, she cuts out. But, that’s not as freaky as Sully realizing, through telepathy, that a member of their crew, Gregor, wasn’t at all surprised by Dalby’s arrival.
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Chas may be out to save her brother, but everybody else is postering and pushing for regime change. No one seems interested in individual freedoms, except Chas and Sully of course, but at this point they don’t seem to think they can do anything about it. They just want to save Thad and get rid of those stinkin’ Jukors. Trouble is, the person responsible for Jukor production is one of those posturing for power and killing Taka women in the process by using them to breed the nasties. Oh, what a mess.
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And let’s not forget Chas and Sully are lovers. Sully is a rare human telepath. Chas is alarmed to realize their lovemaking has been taken to a whole new level and worries Sully is taking control of her mind as a result. Is he doing it on purpose? Does he believe it’s a good thing? As wonderful as it is, will Chas lose herself to Sully? He certainly has the advantage. He can wipe people’s minds clean. She has no telepathic ability at all. Doesn’t sound like a marriage of equals to me.
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Fear of loss often drives otherwise good men to dominate their women. But, there’s a difference between protection and possession, and that difference is trust. And that which appears to be strength often is not, but…I’d better stop there.
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Linnea drives the dagger into the reader’s imagination and twists it around and around until you’re screaming. Is Chas’s Dad really going to make Thad turn state evidence against her? Well, there goes his Father of Year award. Is Phillip another alien who only wants to help or does he have a dagger of his own?
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I love this novel on several novels. Lately, I’ve been kick-butted out with heroines. Oh, sure, I love the kick-butt heroine, but she’s become a stereotype, I’m afraid. Chas is not that. Sure, she can kick bad guy alien butkis, but her strength is a reserved one, a balance of passion and reason. The second thing I love about this novel is it’s not a boy-meets-girl romance. Chas and Sully are an established couple maturing together, figuring out how to make Happily Ever After happen. Because, it doesn’t just happen in Real Life, yanno. And third, there’s a sense of family. Chas has a seriously dysfunctional family, but they are present in the story and in her psyche. She didn’t just spring out of nothing like too many stereotypical heroes and heroines. Her love and loyalty for Thad is a strength, but, of course, it can be a weakness. Just like in Real Life.
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So, what you get with SHADES OF DARK is a well-balanced, carefully paced story which will carry you through to the end. There is no junk, no extra words, no dangling plot threads, just a fabulous novel indicative of an author who never stops learning her craft.
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And I’m not just saying that because I have a cameo in the story either.
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“I remembered a silver-haired freighter pilot telling us, her pilot’s braid longer than mine was now. Her name was Kimber An, and she was something of a legend around the pubs on Marker 3, both for her stories and her drinking skills.”
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I mean, gee-whiz, you only have to click on Linnea Sinclair’s name in the directory to realize you shouldn’t bother knocking here if you want an objective opinion of her work. I'm a big time fan-girl. Nevertheless, one thing I've learned as an unpaid, unprofessional blogging book reviewer is that enthusiasm cannot be bought.
;)

I've almost made enough money in a year off these Amazon ads to buy a cup of coffee now!
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Heat Level: Sensual
Gore O'Meter: Violent

4 comments:

Kimber Chin said...

Wow, sound smokin'!

And laughing about the Amazon ads, I so hear you.

Kimber An said...

Yep, I'm really rakin' in the dough here.
;)
That's okay. They do have really cool widgets. I use the 'Favorites' ones on my Star Captains' Daughter blog so my guests there know what I'll be doing here.

Robyn said...

I should have enough from my google ads to buy this book in about, oh, ten years or so.

The heroine sounds interesting. Like you, I'm kind of over Xena, Warrior Princess, but I still like women who are strong and can take care of themselves.

Kimber An said...

Oh, I loved Xena too, but I never wanted to watch her show every night of the week! There are so many different strengths. What is it Mr. Spock always said?

"Infinite diversity in infinite combinations."