“Prejudice is defined by Webster’s as “an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge” and “an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics.” What if the faith of an Empire was based on such a prejudice? What if every member of a society, from the smallest child to the highest executive and military official, was steeped in such dogma? What would it be like to be the subject of such prejudice? Worse still, what would it be like to be raised in such a society, steeped in such beliefs and one day look in a mirror and discover yourself to be exactly what you had always feared and despised. What would it be like to face the rejection of those you loved most, to fear for your very life on a daily basis? Meet Gabriel Ross Sullivan, poet, smuggler, mercenary, a man born with a rare genetic gift that had forced him to fake his own death.
Captain Chasidah Bergren, pride of the Sixth Fleet had been court-martialed for a crime she didn’t commit and sentenced to the harsh prison planet of Moabar, a fate worse than death, a world from which there was no escape. No one mourned the loss of her crew more than Chaz, but she had never received the order that she had been accused of ignoring which had resulted in their deaths. With no way to prove her innocence, Chaz’s life had been reduced to finding a way to survive in the hostile environment her world had become. The last thing she had expected however was to be a attacked and sexually assaulted by a Taka guard. The attempt had failed and Chaz had added another name to her death toll. Check that, the last thing she’d ever expected was to come face to face with a ghost from her past. Gabriel had come to liberate her. Why “Sully” of all people? True they had played a game of cat and mouse across the universe both professionally and personally. Was their mutual attraction enough for him to risk exposure?
No sooner has she reconciled herself to the fact that the man both she and her government had thought dead was indeed alive and well, when they are attacked again, this time by a nightmare she had thought had long since been destroyed – a jukor, a genetic war experiment gone awry. The project had been banned decades ago. The creatures were uncontrollable killing machines.
Gabriel needs Chaz’s help. Someone was breeding jukors on Marker, the planet where Chaz had grown up as a military brat. Sully and his crew planed to destroy the illegal labs. Chaz knew the planet inside and out and her knowledge of the military systems would be invaluable to their cause. It may very well be a suicide mission but what did she have to lose? Where Sully is concerned – only her heart!
In the close quarters of Sully’s ship, old feelings resurface, passions are stirred, but Chaz can feel that Sully is holding part of himself back. The brash, cavalier space pirate seems almost vulnerable. When she accidentally discovers his dark secret she is shocked. She had been raised to fear and despise the Stolorths because they possessed these dangerous abilities but had never a known a human to possess them. She had immediately feared Sully’s Stolorth friend and crew member until she had been assured that the man’s blindness prevented his use of the genetic trait. She had accepted Ren, giving him hope, but Sully’s power was not curbed by a disability and it was more powerful than Chaz could have ever imagined. Not only had Sully invaded her heart and soul, he had access to her mind as well. For him it was a double edged sword. Her every fear and doubt had the power to wound him deeply. For her it would test every ounce of faith and trust she had in the man she had come to love with all her heart.
While they are sorting all this out, the reality of the jukor lab on Marker is confirmed. There they discover that the conspiracy goes all the way to the top of the Imperial government, involving fanatical members of the Purity Englarian religious sect and the presumptive heir to the Sullivan fortune as well! How much more personal can their mission get? Help comes from surprising places as well when they are aided by Chaz’s estranged older brother Thad and her ex-husband Philip Guthrie. At least one more jukor lab remains, but this one is not planet bound. The race continues to destroy the lab before war destroys the galaxy! Find out if they succeed in the next installment, SHADES OF DARK.
Linnea Sinclair has created a perfect balance between well defined world building and equally well defined relationships. Bravo. I tend to feel that when you have one without the other the read becomes rather flat. Sully the clever and handsome daredevil would not engage the reader nearly as well without that touch of vulnerability which gives him empathy for the blind Stolorth, Ren, who is an outcast among his own kind and feared by all others. Rescuing Chaz seems like a much greater risk when you realize that her acceptance of him means even more to Sully than the success of his mission. Chaz has a considerable amount of indoctrination to overcome, which is handled very believably. She has a very analytical mind which helps her to sort out the facts when her biases and emotional turmoil threaten to overwhelm her. I love the fact that although the physical attraction is undeniable they take the time to really know each other and overcome the obstacles between them. A chase - how refreshing! The relationships in this tale create empathy for the characters that can only add to the adventure because we care what happens to them. As for the world building, all I can only say is - Wow! What an adventure this was.
In a world far beyond our place and time, war is being orchestrated by men who hunger for power and fanatics who hate because of ignorance. Greed and prejudice, how far-fetched is that? GABRIEL’S GHOST deals with all of our touch points, race, religion, politics, and the wars that result because of our differences. We survive because of the people in our lives that make life worth living, as do Sully and Chaz. I highly recommend GABRIEL’S GHOST for a non-stop science fiction action adventure that had me riveted from the very first page. I laughed, cried, and held my breath throughout and can’t wait for the rest of the story.”