I've made no secret of the fact that I am a fan of Linnea Sinclair's sublime science fiction/romance hybrid novels, so you can imagine the fangirl "Squee of Joy" that was heard near and far when I realized her latest Dock 5 novel was out and ready for me at my local library.
"Rebels and Lovers" is the story of Devin Guthrie, younger brother of Admiral Phillip Guthrie, whose adventurous love story with Rya was told in last year's wonderful "Hope's Folly." It's also the story of the tough-yet-tender Makaidan "Kaidee" Griggs, a former space yacht pilot for the Guthrie family.
From the back of the book: "While Devin's soul still burns for Kaidee, she isn't the kind of woman a Guthrie is allowed to marry--especially at a time of intergalactic upheaval, with the family's political position made precarious by Devins brother Phillip, now in open revolt against the empire. And when Devin's 19 year old nephew, Trip, inexplicably goes missing after is bodyguard is murdered, this most dutiful of Guthrie sons finds every ounce of family loyalty put to the test. Only by joining forces with Kaidee can Devin complete the mission to bring Trip back alive. And only by breaking every rule can these two renegades redeem the promise of a passion they were never permitted to explore."
Among the chaos that ensues, we learn that the button-down-accountant Devin has a wilder, more passionate nature than expected, and that he can and will break the rules and break with his controlling father to help save the woman he's loved for 7 years, since they first met (she was unaware of his feelings, and married to a scumbag at the time). I was well aware who the evil, backstabbing brother was from the first few chapters, though it was satisfying to see him come to a bad end, and I was certain that the Guthrie patriarch was terminally ill, otherwise JM wouldn't have insisted on marrying Devin off to a well-connected woman he doesn't love. It was heartening to have Phillip and Rya make an appearance at the end, and I sincerely hope that Kaidee and Devin were able to clear their names and start a new life together (things were just beginning to be dealt with at the end of the book).
As usual with Linnea's books, I find myself enjoying the secondary characters just as much as the main characters, and Barty, former ImpSec spy and retired butler didn't disappoint. I did find "Trip" Guthrie annoying to the end of tolerance, but as he matured somewhat in the end, I was able to forgive him, and thankfully, Linnea doesn't force us to witness his slavish devotion and eager beaver attitude toward his Uncle Phillip.
Though Kaidee was yet another petite blonde (sigh) whose heart had been ripped from her chest and stomped on by life, (and her jerk ex-husband) I liked her sensible nature and take-charge attitude, as well as her moral compass, strength and values. Linnea's heroines are never wusses, nor do they fall apart in a crisis, always depending on men to 'rescue' them. They kick butt, take names and know how to handle their liquor in a Dock 5 bar...they also know how to get out of a bar fight with their lives intact. This straightforward attitude makes them that much sexier to the Guthrie men, (and to Sully Sullivan), because these are the kind of guys who don't wince or whine about powerful women. I enjoy the heat between the characters all the more when I know that the male part of the equation isn't going to stifle his lovers soul by demanding that she become the stay-at-home wife and mother who never has a cross word for the (male) head of the household.
Though I enjoyed Devin's computer genius and his still-waters-run-deep love of Kaidee, I have to say that Sully is still my favorite Linnea Sinclair hottie. I also enjoyed Phillip Guthrie's story because he is nearer my age than any of the other protagonists, and Rya had body issues that I understood and empathized with (in other words, she was not a petite blonde).
Still, I'd give the book a solid A, and recommend it to those who enjoy science fiction adventure spiced up with hot romance.