I could gush about Linnea Sinclair's glorious Science Fiction/Romance hybrids for pages, but I will spare you that particular ramble and try to focus on gushing about her latest work, Hope's Folly, launched just two weeks ago.
In this, her either 8th or 9th book, depending on how you count it, Sinclair heads into familiar territory with a character from Gabriel's Ghost and Shades of Dark, Admiral Philip Guthrie, Chasidah Bergren's ex-husband and hero of the fleet.
Philip "Scruffy Guthrie" has had a rather rough go of it in the past year, since his ex-wife took up with a hot telepath, Gabriel Ross Sullivan, and Philip was forced to abandon his former life, becoming a leader in the rebel alliance against the Imperial fleet, run by an evil politician named Tage, as well as have his leg and hip nearly blown off during the events of Shades of Dark. Seeing Chaz in love with Sully gave Guthrie a new perspective on his inability to have a healthy committed relationship, and as he's 45, Guthrie's gotten it into his head that he is incapable of love or too old for it, depending on his mood of the moment.
Fortunately, Linnea Sinclair, like the military, never leaves a man (or his story) behind, and she's grabbed Guthrie by his bootstraps, thrown him onto a barely viable fruit hauler spaceship with a ragtag bunch of former fleeties and rebels and matched him up with his former boss's daughter, Rya Bennton, who seeks to avenge her beloved fathers death.
I need to quote the back of the book here, because it summarizes the romantic plot so well:
"Rya Bennton has been in love with Philip Guthrie since she was a girl (of 10). But can her childhood fantasies survive and encounter with the hardened man, and newly minted rebel leader, once she learns the truth about her father's death? Or will her passion for revenge put not only their hearts but their lives at risk? It's an impossible mission: A man who feels he can't love. A woman who believes she's unlovable. And an enemy who will stop at nothing to crush them both."
There are some incredible moments in this book, and several touching details that are just delightful for readers who've indulged themselves in Linnea's other Dock 5 works.
Captain Folly the cat makes his debut,and saves the day twice, coming out of his scrapes smelling like, well, oranges instead of roses, but you get the point. The sexual tension between Rya and Philip is so intense, you really can imagine paint peeling off the walls when they look at one another. Readers have to wait until they're about two-thirds of the way through the book for any sort of consummation of their love/lust/soul mating, but when it happens, it is incendiary, guaranteed to make readers blush, sweat and seek their own mates posthaste. The fact that Rya is not a petite blonde who weighs as much as your average 13 year old, but instead is described as having '30 pounds to lose' and being voluptuous in the bust and bum area made the book that much more realistic and believable to me, as a woman of generous proportions myself. Realizing that a majority of American women are at least a size 14 should make more authors include characters who have some meat on their bones, yet are still lovable, fascinating and viable main characters.
Though I personally do not enjoy most military fiction, Linnea makes the military stuff bearable by showing the reader why the information on rules, regs, rank and soforth is necessary in this world. There's plenty of action to keep the military and gun talk from bogging down the plot, and though I could have wished for more face time with Rya and Philip, I realize that there's a fine line to walk when you're writing an SFRomance--too much of the romance aspect,and the SF fans run away, and too much Science Fiction and the romance fans yeowl like scalded cats and pitch the proverbial hissy fit. My only real complaint about the book is that I wanted more, and an old theater saying is to always leave the crowd wanting more. Fortunately, Linnea Sinclair has one more Dock 5 book coming out next year, and I am certain it will be as hotly anticipated as this novel.
I highly recommend Hope's Folly for anyone who enjoys SF with a military bent and some seriously hot romance seasoned throughout. It's a heady brew, and it's all prime Linnea Sinclair. Enjoy.