"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,
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
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