#spaceopera #scifi #adventure #romance
I’ve been having a real binge on out of this world romances lately and Michelle Diener’s Dark Horse is just one of the books I’ve read in the sci-fi genre! Thankfully books 2 and 3 in the series, Dark Deeds and Dark Desires have also been released, so I will be able to get my fix of the series in the near future.
The series is considered a space opera – I wasn’t too sure what space opera meant and how it differed from sci-fi but according to Wikipedia it is defined as:
” a subgenre of science fiction that emphasizes space warfare, melodramatic adventure, interplanetary battles, as well as chivalric romance, and often risk-taking. Set mainly or entirely in outer space, it usually involves conflict between opponents possessing advanced abilities, futuristic weapons, and other sophisticated technology. The term has no relation to music, but is instead a play on the terms “soap opera”
Dark Horse certainly fits the bill as it has a fair amount of battle and adventure scenes using sophisticated technology, plus a romance between the respective female and male lead. The romance is on the sweet side and the focus is on the female leads and her character development. I really enjoyed the read as Michelle Diener is an accomplished and talented writer, weaving an original plot line with great character development and world building – I particularly liked the focus on AI’s (Artificial Intelligence). The series is certainly one of note for fans of the genre.
Some secrets carry the weight of the world.
Rose McKenzie may be far from Earth with no way back, but she’s made a powerful ally–a fellow prisoner with whom she’s formed a strong bond. Sazo’s an artificial intelligence. He’s saved her from captivity and torture, but he’s also put her in the middle of a conflict, leaving Rose with her loyalties divided.
Captain Dav Jallan doesn’t know why he and his crew have stumbled across an almost legendary Class 5 battleship, but he’s not going to complain. The only problem is, all its crew are dead, all except for one strange, new alien being.
She calls herself Rose. She seems small and harmless, but less and less about her story is adding up, and Dav has a bad feeling his crew, and maybe even the four planets, are in jeopardy. The Class 5’s owners, the Tecran, look set to start a war to get it back and Dav suspects Rose isn’t the only alien being who survived what happened on the Class 5. And whatever else is out there is playing its own games.
In this race for the truth, he’s going to have to go against his leaders and trust the dark horse.
My Review ~ 5 stars TOP READ
Dark Horse is the first instalment in Michelle Diener’s Class 5 series, but also works as a standalone read just as the other books in the series do. The book is a compelling introduction to the series. It is flawlessly written with an original and suspenseful premise and plot, with a strong female lead and a swoonworthy male counterpart, with strong characterisations and world building.
In it, Rose has been abducted from Earth and has been held on an alien ship where she has been treated abominably by her over inquisitive alien captors, the Tecran. We don’t actually witness the torture she has been subjected to first hand, as by the time we are introduced to Rose, Sazo, an artificial intelligence has taken steps to prevent it happening again. Rose is unexpectedly plunged into a very dangerous situation, when the ship she is incarcerated on confronts a ship of the Grih fleet. Not only that, but most of the Tecran crew on her vessel are dead and Rose must escape the ship to survive. She manages to escape to the adjacent planet but is then taken by the Grih, headed by Captain Dav Jallan.
Dav would like to trust this human called Rose but fears that she is not being entirely truthful about her part in the Tecran’s demise. The unexplained deaths of the Tecran crew are worrying. Can he trust her or is he putting the fate of his people and the other races in the alliance in danger? On board Dav’s ship Rose is not exactly being held captive but neither is she trusted by some of Dev’s crew and other s in the alliance. In fact her safety could well be compromised if and when she is compelled to reveal what she knows.
The read is full of adventure, suspense and intrigue. I particularly liked the interplay between Rose and the AI Sazo, how their relationship developed and how it impacted on Dav’s relationship with Rose. Dav’s race the Grih are not unlike humans, apart from being more technologically advanced and I loved how he defended Rose from those from his race who viewed her as just another ‘orange’, his race’s term for a sentient alien being.
Rose is a character to admire. Abducted from her home planet and thrust into a life where aliens are very much a reality, she gives as good as she gets and is very willing to learn and adapt. I enjoyed reading how she grows in stature as the plot develops as she tries to secure a future in her new reality, a future which she only dare hope will include Dav for whom she is developing feelings for. As to Sazo, her saviour, she is compelled to put her trust in him and his agenda. However, Dav’s loyalty is truly torn. Dare he risk his career for a woman who is hiding the truth and whose knowledge could endanger his kind? The fate of Sazo, the AI is closely linked to the couple’s future and the story develops in an unexpected way.
An original read and highly recommended.
Reviewed by Tina Williams
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