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REVIEW

"An engaging, heart stopping, painfully wonderful romantic Science Fiction sequel"

*If you're reading this before Gabriel's Ghost, stop, turn around and go get Gabriel's Ghost first. Then come back and get this one. Seriously, folks.

Shades of Dark. In retrospect, after everything Sully and Chaz go through, it's the perfect descriptor for the evolution their relationship endures. And it does endure. It's been three months since they infiltrated the jukor-breeding lab on the Marker space station. Now it's time to go after the big guns, the brains and monetary brawn behind it all and the mobile ship lab coasting across the universe, breeding even more jukors. The continued kidnapping of Takan females to use as breeding machines is quickly escalating a desperate situation towards open war.

Sully and Chaz are adamant as ever in their resolve to stop the bloodthirsty creatures from getting loose as well as annihilating those behind it. Their mission has never been in question. What is though is their relationship. Sully's powers grow stronger everyday, yet do not become easier to bear. Chaz is his firm support, however he needs it, but when a new crew member comes aboard, another with powers like Sully's, their love will undergo the ultimate test of wills and survival. No one ever said saving the universe was easy, but no one ever warned them it would demand -- and take -- so much of them personally either.

Deep, Dark Territory

Sully and Chaz are one of the most passionate couples -- and this isn't even a romance!

That's right, I didn't stutter. It's science fiction, baby.

We learn a lot more about the two in terms of how they came to be a couple. I thought I was already as invested in their relationship as I could get. Wrong, I was so wrong in that regard. This may not be a romance, but a lot of other romance couples could learn a thing or two from Chaz and Sully.

The conflict between these two was HUGE! Again, Sully's powers are a major contender for foremost villain. But it was stepped up quite a few notches in this sequel to Gabriel's Ghost, where it seemed as though they'd at least come to an understanding, a compromise in terms of Sully's powers effecting them as a couple. Wrong again - at least somewhat. Sully, despite a willing and wonderful partner, still feels very much alone as he struggles to control the darker instincts of his Kyi-Ragkiril nature. He's not had the benefit of growing up learning and adapting to his skills and therefore perfecting them into something usable and at his whim rather than him at the power's whim. It was heart wrenching at times to read, the uncertainty and self-doubt he goes through.

And here enters the third persona in what came to center stage like three world powers claiming to be in it together, but in fact all are scheming in some way to come out on top, or at the very least alive. One is relentless and will literally stop at nothing to claim their rightful prize. Another is caught in the middle, torn between right and wrong and ultimately driven to the breaking point. The last is a bit lost, the one forced to put on a good show, while secretly having to acknowledge that it was never a deal they should have tolerated.

That third that steps in, takes the scales that are trying to balance and throws them into the outer reaches of space is another Kyi-Ragkiril, one Cordell Delkavra, Captain Regarth -- or Del, as he is preferably called. Like Thea and Ana over at The Book Smugglers, it is hard to talk too much about him without giving everything away. He is the core of it all, the igniter to not only Sully and Chaz's relationship, but the main plot as well. At first, it's very hard to ascertain his motives and I wanted to know them right away, very much. Something about him fascinated me from the get go, but also a thread of unease crept in and refused to go away. He definitely makes the book more interesting. It had lagged a bit in pace till he shows up. But when he does show up, hold on to whatever you can because he is the engine, the creator behind the roller coaster that engages the moment he steps into the picture.

Sully gains insight into his Kyi nature and finally begins to learn how to fully be who he was meant to be. Where it becomes painful and questionable though is, is it what's right for him to be. And again, without giving too much away, all I can say is I was on that roller coaster; happy, sad, poignantly awed by love, crushed and gosh dang it all -- that roller coaster got put on spin cycle at some point.

It was hard not to be moved by Chaz's struggles with Sully and Del. She mentions at one point how she has to shove her emotions into these mental duro-hards, equating her efforts to make Sully happy to physical storage crates spacers use to ship goods in. She just shoves pieces of herself, pieces of her love for Sully, pieces of her doubts into these mental holding tanks and I think that's how she survives what's to come. In a lot of ways, Shades of Dark deeply explores, this time, Chaz's inner longings too as she slowly comes to be looking in from the outside. This was indeed a very dark exploration of hers, Sully's and Del's strange, twisted relationship. The Plot Thickens

A lot of what isn't answered in Gabriel's Ghost is of course dealt with here.

The subplot with Gregor comes to a head and it's yet another step in Sully's journey with his inner struggles. For the first time, we get to see how menacing he can really be as a result.

Ren isn't as present in this one as he was previously. Honestly, Del steps in and overshadows the less mentally talented Ragkiril. However, Ren is as much the solid friend and mediator when he does appear. It's too bad though that this talent of his can't help to sooth the escalating problems between Sully and Chaz.

Dorsie tickled me with her fierce loyalty, which involved choice curse words that had me grinning. Even when she becomes mad at Sully at onepoint, I felt her loyalty and respect coming through. She's another good one to have on your side, especially when she's handling a knife back in that galley of hers all the time.

Marsh gets somewhat relegated to the background as well, but when his beliefs are put to the test with Sully, I was impressed with his ability to weight the situation fairly.

And then we have Admiral Phillip Guthrie, who will be getting his own book in the future. He joins the expedition to stop the jukor breeding and adds in just enough solid character development to heighten interest for his own story, but without detracting from the main plot. He happens to be in possession of some detailed Rakiril and Kyi Ragkiril information, so he becomes a valuable asset, as well as a solid friend, to Chaz. There were moments where I had to chuckle or sigh, when he and Chaz clearly show they've come to an understanding and forgiven where they ended up with each other. I mentioned this in comments for the previous book, but it's worth saying again -- Phillip's sporting major whispers of hero duds and I can't wait to see how he handles his own full length story. I think it's great too because we'll be getting the continuation of the war and the results and consequences of some of the happenings in this book. The train will not be stopping here, but will go on for another tour. Stay tuned for more from him in his book, titled Hope's Folly (Feb.24, 2009).

The ending, or the last three or so chapters, just blew me away. In a lot of ways, even though that dread had begun to creep in long before, I was completely thrown off by the ending and how it was achieved. While loving every griping detail, at the same time I wanted to pound my fist into something. It was painful, so painful to read and took some major emotional upheaval to get through. I wanted to yell at Sully -- a lot -- and I wanted to go back often and hopefully see something different, something not as hard to deal with. Because it was hard. Very.

This book had me by the throat and more times than I could count, my heart leaped up there too to join in. I really needed time after finishing to come down from the cliff it put me on. A somewhat sad thing for me is I still feel like I'm on that cliff, hoping, heart pounding and dread escalating. But to me, this also speaks powerfully of how well the story engaged me. With Gabriel's Ghost, I became so enamored of Chaz and Sully and their slightly awkward, painfully wonderful love story and in Shades, I'm so torn for them, literally aching at some points and in tears others. But there were also truly beautiful moments, flickers of romance and passion that could make any reader feel their connection. I was reserved by the ending and wished for a bit longer resolution, but not sad in the least for having read the book. I enjoyed it, I was moved by it and I feel as if I have read something realistic in terms of the situations, complications and the hopes, needs and longings of these characters. Ms. Sinclair definitely gives them their due in a powerful way and I came, ultimately, to respect how far she is willing to take her characters.

Reviewed by Kenda Montgomery
Posted July 29, 2008

SUMMARY

**2008 PEARL WINNER - BEST SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY**

**A PNR Staff Top Pick**

For two fugitive lovers, space has no haven, no mercy, no light - only...SHADES OF DARK

Before her court-martial, Captain Chasidah "Chaz" Bergren was the pride of the Sixth Fleet. Now she's a fugitive from the "justice" of a corrupt Empire. Along with her lover, the former monk, mercenary, and telepath Gabriel Ross Sullivan, Chaz hoped to leave the past light-years behind...until the news of her brother Thad's arrest and upcoming execution for treason. It's a ploy by Sully's cousin Hayden Burke to force them out of hiding and it works.

With a killer targeting human females and a renegade gen lab breeding jukor war machines, Chaz and Sully already had their hands full of treachery, betrayal - not to mention each other. Throw in Chaz's Imperial ex-husband, Admiral Philip Guthrie, and a Kyi-Ragkiril mentor out to seduce Sully and not just loyalties but lives are at stake. For when Sully makes a fateful choice changing their relationship forever, Chaz must also choose - between what duty demands and what her heart tells her she must do.

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Futuristic, Sci-Fi

Read an Excerpt

 

Shades of Dark
(Dock 5 Universe: Book 2)
by Linnea Sinclair

Bantam
July 1, 2008
Available: July 29, 2008
ISBN #0553589652
EAN #9780553589658
432 pages
Paperback
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Other Books by
Linnea Sinclair

Rebels and Lovers
Hope's Folly
The Down Home Zombie Blues
Games of Command
An Accidental Goddess
Gabriel's Ghost
Finders Keepers
Wintertide
Dreamquest
Destiny's Game
Command Performance
Command Performance
Finders Keepers
Finders Keepers


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