Monday, March 31, 2008

Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair

After a decade of piloting interstellar patrol ships, former captain Chasidah Bergren, onetime pride of the Sixth Fleet, finds herself court-martialed for a crime she didn’t commit – and shipped off to a remote prison planet from which no one ever escapes. But when she kills a brutal guard in an act of self-defense, someone even more dangerous emerges from the shadows.

Gabriel Sullivan – alpha mercenary, smuggler, and rogue – is supposed to be dead. Yet now this seductive ghost from Chaz’s past is offering her a ticket to freedom – for a price. Someone in the Empire is secretly breeding jukors: vicious and uncontrollable killing machines that have long been outlawed. Gabriel needs Chaz to help him stop the practice before it decimates Imperial space. The mission means putting their lives on the line – but the tensions that heat up between them may be the riskiest part of all.

Wonderful stuff, this. I didn’t want put it down (but had to, twice) and finished all 447 pages within 24 hours … never mind the puffy-eyes and wooziness from the lack of sleep. After I closed the book, I was happy at last and could carry on with my life.

This story is narrated by Chaz in the first-person perspective, but don’t let this discourage you from giving it a go. The author did a very good job defining all the vital characters (not just the leads) and the circumstances they find themselves in, that the story unfolded flawlessly and I barely noticed the first-person narration.

The sci-fi world/setting is spectacularly depicted and I was drawn in (well, sucked in, more like) from the very first page. The sci-fi aspect is not overdone; it is just enough to realistically set the world for the thrilling space adventure that is easy to follow.

For me, the highlight of this story is its strong romantic aspect, which is incredibly heart-felt and well-developed. This is a surprise because the story is tagged as Science Fiction, yet the focal point seems to be how Sully and Chaz find each other after years of chance meetings, how they work out their insecurities and give their love a chance to grow. There are many tender moments, starting with this:

He sunk his hands into the long mass of hair I’d half-braided and tucked down the back of my robe. He began unraveling my braid. In the mirror I saw a length of corded leather, dotted with shiny silver beads, dangling from his fingers.

“We don’t have time –”

“Hush!” His grin faded, his brows slanting down. Concentrating. Braiding my hair, weaving in the beads and leather.

Making amends for the hair wrap I’d tossed to the jukor? Or remembering that night in Port Chalo? I’m sure it had meant nothing to him. Or maybe he thought a few kisses had earned him the right to taunt me now.

I wasn’t in the mood to be teased. “I can do that a lot faster than you.”

“Hush, hush, hush.” Softly. His voice was not much more than a deep rumble in his throat. His hands were firm, yet more gentle than I would have thought he could be. And warm. A whisper of soft heat played down my neck where his fingers brushed against my skin. I didn’t pull away when they stroked my hair, my scalp, the back of my neck. Instead, I let myself sink into the sensations, bargaining with myself as I did so. What harm was there in letting him braid my hair for me?

My eyes wanted to close. I’d fought exhaustion for hours now. He was so warm. His knuckles brushed my jaw. Fingers traced my lips…

His intimate caress jolted my brain awake. I lurched forward, my hands splaying against the rough-hewn mirror frame. I caught a glimpse of his face, his obsidian eyes half-hooded, molten.

Good, eh? Wait till you meet a vital secondary character, Ren, Sully’s best friend and sidekick. Who’s not human, has long blue hair, and is blind. He wrenched my heart mercilessly, after he stole it. I couldn’t get enough of him and I loved every scene that he appeared in. Oh, please, please, please let him have more scenes in the sequel, Shades Of Dark!

I read this book with two friends, and I thought it’d be interesting to let you in on their comments. Please welcome Kat and Mel.

On the characters and the first-person narration…

Mel: The characters were very well drawn and complex. Linnea did such a good job of letting us see all the characters through Chaz's eyes.

Kat: This book made me speechless, I'm so in awe. I never thought that I'd enjoy a story written in first-person that much. I LOVED it! I don't know where Linnea gets her ideas from and how she's doing it, that all her characters are so unique. I've already read four of her five books and loved them all. I can't say that of any other author.

Mel: I love, love, love Sully!!! I wanted to give him and poor Ren big hugs. I also wouldn't mind seeing Ren get a story; he was such a sad character and I felt so bad for him. I think Chaz will go down as one of my all-time favorite heroines. God, that scene when she walked up behind Sully and wrapped her arms around him and felt him trembling … I almost bawled!

Kat: I really liked Chaz. She was completely believable in all her insecurities and her feelings for Sully. She tried very hard to trust him, and it was so human, when she got scared of him. She didn't know what to think of his talents and every time she stepped back, she grabbed all her courage and took two steps forward. That made her a very strong person.

Sully was just perfect. He loved Chaz so much. That's what I adore in Sinclair's heroes. There's always only ONE woman for them. No questions, no hesitation, they are ready to sacrifice all and die for their women. I'm waiting anxiously for Shades Of Dark to read more about Sully and Chaz. I think they are perfectly matched. (Not to forget Hope’s Folly in Spring 2009 about Phillip.)

Mel: Yes, I like that too about her heroes. They are so devoted and true to their ladies. Goody about Phillip getting a story too. I think there's a good story behind him.

There you have it. Our opinion and rating are unanimous.

5 out of 5. I love it. It's phenomenal - in a class by itself. Sensuality: Warm

P. S. If you want to try a Linnea Sinclair book, I highly recommend that you start with this one.


Linnea Sinclair said...

Wow. I'm... floored. Thank you so much for your kind comments on Sully and Chaz (and Ren and Philip) on your blog. I'm just... wow. (It's so heartening for an author when a reader "gets it." We try so hard and honestly, writing that book was like tearing my own heart out.)

I wrote the book in 34 intense days, almost non-stop. Just an FYI.

SHADES OF DARK is just as intense. I can't get into spoilers except one of my beta-readers said it was one of the few books she had to read with a box of tissues at the end. And my copy editor at Bantam actually included a note about SHADES saying she felt it was superb. Trouble is, SHADES will make little sense if you haven't read GABRIEL'S. I'm anticipating some less than sterling reviews on that score (but Bantam does put "book 2" or "sequel to" on their covers. Corporate policy.)

GABRIEL'S took the RITA award in 2006, BTW. GAMES OF COMMAND is up for a RITA this year.

you wrote: For me, the highlight of this story is its strong romantic aspect, which is incredibly heart-felt and well-developed. This is a surprise because the story is tagged as Science Fiction, yet the focal point seems to be how Sully and Chaz find each other after years of chance meetings, how they work out their insecurities and give their love a chance to grow.

I write the books. I don't shelve them. ;-) Because I write for the Spectra imprint of Bantam, the SF shelving is part of the package. I have no say. However, from SHADES on, I'm being switched over to the Dell imprint and should be shelved in romance. FYI. It's tough when you write cross-genre. Tastes great, less filling, yunno? No one really knows where to put you.

Thanks again, ~Linnea

SHADES OF DARK, the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost, coming July 2008 from RITA award-winning author, Linnea Sinclair, and Bantam Books:

Something cascaded lightly through me—a gentling, a suffused glow. If love could be morphed into a physical element, this would be it. It was strength and yet it was vulnerability. It was all-encompassing and yet it was freedom. It was a wall of protection. It was wings of trust and faith.

It was Gabriel Ross Sullivan, answering the questions I couldn’t ask. Not that everything would be okay, but that everything in his power would be done, and we’d face whatever outcomes there were together.

PS: Have you seen the SHADES trailer on my MySpace? I'm still tweaking it but it'll give you an idea...

Linnea Sinclair said...

Oops, that's DOESN'T not does. [(but Bantam does put "book 2" or "sequel to" on their covers. Corporate policy] ~Linnea

Pauline B Jones said...

What a great review! I heartily agree, having read all of Linnea's books.

Also a fan of Mary Stewart. :-)
Perilous Pauline

Melanie said...

Wow Jace what a great review of Gabriel's Ghost. I can't wait to read Shades of Dark.

Jace said...

Linnea! How nice of you to drop by! As always, I'm honoured. :)

My friends and I know that it isn't easy to write a good story. So when we come across one that's totally brilliant, we can't help but gush, you know? ;) And Gabriel's Ghost and you are so deserving of all the accolade. :)

Oh, now you've done it - putting me on tenterhooks regarding Shades Of Dark! July seems so much farther away now! Torture, that's what this is!

Thanks for the explanation on the shelving and tagging of Sci-Fi for Gabriel's. Seems like a shame, as it's such a misnomer. A romance reader won't know what a great love story can be found within its pages!

I have Finders Keepers in the TBR (reading soon), and Accidental Goddess is on its way. :) I aim to read all your books, you know, and I look forward to more wonderful stories from you. :)

Oh, my best to Daq and Miss Doozy. :)

Jace said...

Hi, Pauline

Welcome. :) And thanks.

I'm afraid I'm hooked on Linnea ... thank goodness I still have three of her books to tide me over until July! LOL

Mary Stewart ... love her stories. Wonderful storyteller too, with elegant, restrained writing. :)

Jace said...

Agent M. LOL

Thanks. I couldn't have done it without you (and Agent K). LOL

Linnea Sinclair said...

Jace, if you'd like to be a Beta-reader for SHADES, I'd be glad to email you an electronic copy. I can't offer you print, unfortunately. Beta-reads are always electronic.

Same goes for HOPE'S FOLLY when it's finished (a bit of time on that, yet). Email me privately if you're interested. ;-) ~Linnea

SHADES OF DARK, the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost, coming July 2008 from RITA award-winning author, Linnea Sinclair, and Bantam Books:

…and suddenly I love you beyond all measure is not just words but a heart, a soul bursting open, a stripping raw of all pretense. It is Sully, it is Gabriel, it is his tears on my face, his body in mine, our minds seamless. It is hopes and dreams and failures. It is apologies and a prayer for redemption. It is heaven and damnation.

All that I am is yours pales beside it.

It is everything.

It is love.

Linnea Sinclair said...

Oh, SHADES sneak peeks are here:


Enjoy! ~Linnea

SHADES OF DARK, the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost, coming July 2008 from RITA award-winning author, Linnea Sinclair, and Bantam Books:

Sully walked over to me, put two fingers under my chin and tipped my face up. “I don’t underestimate my humanity or compassion. You are my humanity and compassion, angel. You’re the only thing keeping me sane anymore.”

Jace said...

Linnea, thank you very much for your kindness. :)

katrin said...

Hey J,
I always love your reviews, because you always express much better what I think than I could ever do it myself.
I can't wait to read SHADES OF DARK.


Jace said...

Hey K :)

You and M are my morale boosters. I'm so glad to have both of you in my corner. :)

Kristie (J) said...

I am totally hooked on Linnea Sinclair too. I was amazed at how much I loved Gabriel's Ghost as I wasn't normally a first person kind of reader. But before this one I'd read the Stephanie Plum books and they kind of weakened the wall. GG smashed it down altogether. I have one of her books left to read - Finder's Keepers and then I should do a reread of GG so I'll be all ready for Shades of Dark.

Linnea Sinclair said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Kristie! First person POV is a POV I love but I didn't set out to write first person. It was simply that the story could be told no other way. It was never even a question but over the past few years, when I've been confronted by readers who refuse to read Gabriel's Ghost because it's first person, I've given it some thought.

In theory I could have worked tight third--Chaz and Sully. But would it have been as impactful? I've received emails from fans who've said they've literally dropped the book when certain revelations came forth. Chaz's ignorance is key to that.

Did I KNOW that? No. I wrote the book that exploded out of me at that time without any conscious decision as to WHY first person. I am an "organic" writer. A "gut" writer. This was a time where, to me, it worked.

Yet oddly, I feel the book (and what is turning out to be the series) is really Sully's story. GG and SHADES are Sully's stories told through Chaz. That flies in the face of "writing rules." Being Sully's stories, they should be in Sully's POV. They're not.

I can only think that's because Chaz is the more balanced emotionally in the understanding of it all.

I'll be looking for your--and others'--reactions when SHADES is released. It's a tad dark. It had to be. Sully has yet a lot to learn. ;-)


SHADES OF DARK, the sequel to Gabriel’s Ghost, coming July 2008 from RITA award-winning author, Linnea Sinclair, and Bantam Books:

Sully turned suddenly, his expression of intense concentration shifting to one of an almost detached curiosity. No, this wasn’t Sully, mercenary, poet and lover. But Gabriel, shape shifter, telepath, Kyi-Ragkiril.

I had no way of knowing if he heard my mental comment or had suddenly noticed I was there. But it was the first time he’d looked at me. A chill ran up my spine. I didn’t know this man kneeling a few feet away from me, this luminescent demon with lightning glowing in flashes under his skin. But I could taste his power. It was a cold thing, thick and astringent. It had no mercy.

And I had no choice.

Jace said...

Kristie, I'm so glad that I read your (or was it Katie's) post on Games Of Command and gave it a go. Otherwise, I would never have discovered Linnea ... something I can't bear to think about now! ;)

I was going to read Finders Keepers soon, but with stuff happening ;) I'm afraid it'll have to wait a little longer.

1st POV had never bothered me. I guess all the gothics I read conditioned me so well that it's now as familiar as 3rd POV. :)

Jace said...

Linnea, yes, Gabriel's Ghost is Sully's story, as seen through Chaz's eyes. And it unfolds gradually, so we get to know him little by little the same time as Chaz does. And it works so well, so that puts paid to the "writing rules". ;)

Keep listening to your "gut-feel", and stay true to your vision. We'll keep reading. :)

Dare we hope for Ren's story some time soon? ;)

Linnea Sinclair said...

At this point, I don't have a story planned for Ren. I've not finished Philip's yet. ;-) ~Linnea

Jace said...

Oh well, looks like I'll have to keep on hoping. :)

katrin said...

I'm hoping with you, J.
Ren would make a fantastic hero. I'd love to see him happy. He captured my heart from the first moment on.

Kristie (J) said...

I *cough* think it might have been me. And the light bulb went on and Ms. Sinclairs comments here inspired me to do a post!

Katie(babs) said...

I heart Gabriel, Kel, Ren and the furzels most of all. I want a pet furzel to call my own.

Linnea Sinclair said...

My furzel brought a frog into the bedroom at 2 AM... ;-> Gotta love 'em. ~Linnea

Katie(babs) said...

what about furzel duckie? still hanging out in the jacuzzi drinking wine?