Tag Archives: “Dock Five” series

Weekend Reads: “Shades of Dark” + “Hope’s Folly” By Linnea Sinclair

11 May

After I finished reading Gabriel’s Ghost for Nath’s Re-Read Challenge, I just couldn’t let go of Sully and Chaz and decided to read Shades of Dark again. I also thought it a good preparation for Hope’s Folly which I still had to read for the first time.

Shades of Dark by Linnea Sinclair

science fiction romance; “Dock Five” series, #2


This is the second time I read Shades of Dark and I still like it as much as the first time.

If you call Gabriel’s Ghost dark, then Shades of Dark is black. In Shades of Dark, the world – or better the universe – is in turmoil. Political structures are rapidly breaking down and you know longer know who is on your side and who is not as Chaz and Sully try to find the remaining jukor lab and struggle with the their bond. This bond is explored in detail in this story together with the nature of the power behind it. Shades of Dark looks at the consequences, pitfalls and temptations of that power; and that’s the reason I said Shades of Dark is a black story.

Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair

science fiction romance; “Dock Five” series, #3


I liked Hope’s Folly but because I think about writing a longer comment about it, I just quote a scene that shows why I like Rya Bennton, the heroine, a lot. This is Rya and Philip:

“Is this,” she asked hesitantly, “what I think it is?”
“What do you think it is?”
“Norlack 473 sniper, modified to handle wide-load slash ammo.” There was a noticeable reverence in her voice.
He pulled the rifle out, hefting it. She had a good eye. Norlacks weren’t common. But recognizing it was modified for illegal and highly destructive charges… Then again, she’d seen it in action.
“It is,” he confirmed, amused now by the expression on her face. It had gone from reverence to almost rapture.
“That is so totally apex.” Her voice was hushed. “May I,” and she glanced shyly at him, her eyes bright, spots of color on her cheeks, fondle it?” (57)

*** ~ ***

Like Gabriel’s Ghost, both these novels come with a playlist. For Shades of Dark, it’s Delerium feat. Sarah McLachlan – SILENCE (Airscape mix) and for Hope’s Folly, it’s Fragma – TOCA’S MIRACLE/TOCA ME – youtube video and lyrics graciously provided by Linnea Sinclair here.

Re-Read Challenge: “Gabriel’s Ghost” By Linnea Sinclair

30 Apr


Info:Re-Read Challenge 2009
This month:Re-Read Challenge: April!

GENRE: Romance / Science Fiction
PUBLISHED: Bantam Spectra, 2005

SERIES: “Dock Five” series, #1

AVAILABILITY: still available

The back blurb:
“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.”


Gabriel’s Ghost was the first book I read by Linnea Sinclair. It also was one of the first romances I’ve read written in first person POV and I really liked how Sinclair made it clear that Sully was in love with Chaz even though I didn’t get his POV (my comment then). This was around Christmas 2006. After I finished it, I went on my first author glom.

It was a few weeks later that I read the author’s note and learned that “Gabriel’s Ghost was inspired by and written to “Put Your Lights On” featuring Everlast on Santana’s album Supernatural, one of my favorite songs on that album.

More important and way cooler (though not surprising): song and book are a great fit.


The first sentence in Gabriel’s Ghost reads: “Only fools boast they have no fears.”

Gabriel’s Ghost is a story about fears – fears of rejection and fears of the unknown and unexplained. And it’s a story about trust – trust that someone will still love you even knowing all your hideous secrets and trust in someone who asks you:

“Can you accept me as I am now, on faith? With what you know, and nothing more?” He paused. “I fear that your need for facts, your need for explanations, for things that perhaps can never be explained, will destroy the only chance we have. And I’ll lose you.” (154)

Chashida Bergren, Chaz, is a woman who operates on facts. It’s what she was trained to do as Fleet, it’s what she does when she feels stressed: she gathers and analyzes facts to keep unwanted emotions or thoughts at bay until she is ready to deal with them. She’s confident and sure of her skills as a pilot. She does what she must do and she knows that it’s important to keep personal feelings from influencing a task that needs to be done. She wouldn’t withhold information just because she’s in a spat with someone. She’s a strong woman but she also knows fears because “only fools boast they have no fears.”

Gabriel Sullivan, Sully, is a ghost. He was believed dead for two years when he and Chaz meet again. He’s a man with many identities, although he is far from at peace with himself:

I’m already damned, consigned to a Hell I can never escape. It haunts me, consumes me. Until all that’s left are things that make me feel a pain I hope to God you never have to feel. Anger and pain are very valid reasons for what I do. Remember that. (64)

He wants to stop the jukor breeding and he needs Chaz’s help for that.

There are quite a few secondary characters in Gabriel’s Ghost, most important the crew of Sully’s ship the Boru Karn and there most important Ren. Ren is a Stolorth, a race with a humanoid form and feared, or at least viewed with wariness, by humans because of their mind talents. They are also known as mind-fuckers, and it’s widely assumed that meeting a Stolorth means he/she will play with your mind.

Besides Stolorths, there’s another non-human race in Gabriel’s Ghost, Takans. I pictured them like Wookiees though they can talk. Takan females are used for the breeding of jukors. Jukors are more like animals, once breed to combat the mind skills of the Stolorths. They are vicious, have wings, and smell like garbage. They also only have one spot where they are vulnerable. Some years before the events in Gabriel’s Ghost, it became clear that jukors couldn’t be controlled so they were all ordered to be destroyed. That someone seems to have taken up the breeding again in secret is bad news.

Gabriel’s Ghost is science fiction. It’s a world with a different society, with its own politics, different groups vying for power and influence, and a religion that centers around mythical beasts with the mind talents of the Stolorths and a shape-shifting form jukors are supposed to resemble.

Gabriel’s Ghost might sound like a action-driven novel and in a way, it is: the mission to destroy the jukor labs delivers the frame for the story: what Chaz and Sully do and where they go. But the story isn’t how they go about destroying the labs, it’s about a secret, darkness, and identity. And as often in such stories, there is an angel.

The action forces the secret out into the open step by step but Gabriel’s Ghost isn’t one of the stories where you want to bash the characters over the head because they just don’t talk with each other. No. The reasons for keeping things secret are vital. In Gabriel’s Ghost, the secret has to do with identity. Revealing it means being shunned, probably hunted, throughout the known world for what you are, for the darkness in you. Revealing it probably means losing the love of your life, your angel. Gabriel’s Ghost is a story about prejudice and about taking risks.

At the beginning of the story, Chaz knows Sully as a mercenary and smuggler who loves to play with words. She knows him as someone she hunted for six years because as Fleet that was her job. She interrupted his illegal escapades and shared conversations laced with innuendos with him then. She also knows him as someone she shared a few passionate kisses with in a seedy bar one night.

A short time later, she knows and says this about Sully:

Known terrorist, smuggler, mercenary. A passionate, volatile man. Angry, for valid reasons, he’d said. Gabriel Ross Sullivan. Poet. Warrior. Lover. (130)

But that is not the end of her discoveries. Discoveries hindered by her promise not to ask questions, to accept Sully on faith and to trust him; discoveries helped along by the mission to stop the jukor breeding. With Sully, it seems that for every question answered, several new ones pop up. Her discoveries – the revealing of the secret – are reflected in the list of words she uses to characterize Sully. Each discovery adds to or alters words on the list. Until Chaz knows all, she’s in for more than one big surprise and test of her trust. Then, her words for Sully differ greatly from the two she had in the beginning: mercenary and smuggler.

And all along the way, your heart will break for Sully. Chaz wants truths and facts, and in Gabriel’s Ghost she is thrown into a situation she is asked to base her decisions not on facts but on trust. Sully wants Chaz, and in Gabriel’s Ghost telling Chaz the truth about himself might mean losing her. Gabriel’s Ghost is a story about truth and lies.

Chasidah. Angel. I have lost those words that used to come so easily to me. They have all fled, shamed to be in my company. I’m left now with only a few simple ones. They are inadequate. They cannot begin to convey all that I feel. But they are all I have.
Chasidah. Angel. I am sorry. I am sorry. I am sorry.
Chasidah. Angel. The grievous wrong isn’t as much in the questions you couldn’t ask, but in the only real truth that I could tell, and did not.
Chasidah. Angel. I love you beyond all measure. That is the only real truth. (207, 208)

Reading Gabriel’s Ghost again for the challenge, there were two things I really noticed: 1) allusions and hints to the secret are present from the first chapter on; 2) the masterful way the different elements come together in this story – Gabriel’s Ghost is a rather layered story. I also think it’s neat that though Gabriel’s Ghost is written in first person and told from Chaz’s POV, it almost seems more like it’s Sully’s story rather than Chaz’s story.

One more thing, the most important one: most of all, Gabriel’s Ghost is a story about love. Love sometimes asks you to trust without knowing all the facts, love sometimes can be destroyed by keeping facts to oneself, love means opening yourself up to someone else with your whole self, trusting that you still will be loved with all your hideous secrets and darkness out in the open. Gabriel’s Ghost explores all this.

The last sentence of the novel reads: “Only fools underestimate the power of love.”

Verdict: The more often I read the novel, the more I appreciate it. Gabriel’s Ghost only gets better with each read for me. 5/5

Listen to Put Your Lights On, listen for the words darkness, fear, and angel, and you’ll have an idea what Gabriel’s Ghost is like.

Linnea Sinclair – “Shades Of Dark”

23 Sep

GENRE: Romance / Science Fiction
PUBLISHED: Bantam, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I like Linnea Sinclair’s novels a lot.

The back blurb:
“Before her court-martial, Captain Chasidah ‘Chaz’ Bergren was the pride of the Sixth Fleet. Now she’s a fugitive from the ‘justice’ of a corrupt Empire. Along with her lover, the former monk, mercenary, and telepath Gabriel Ross Sullivan, Chaz hoped to leave the past light-years behind – until the news of her brother Thad’s arrest and upcoming execution for treason. It’s a ploy by Sully’s cousin Hayden Burke to force them out of hiding, and it works.

With a killer targeting human females and a renegade gen lab breeding jukor war machines, Chaz and Sully already had their hands full of treachery, betrayal – not to mention each other. Throw in Chaz’s Imperial ex-husband, Admiral Philip Guthrie, and a Kyi-Ragkiril mentor out to seduce, Sully, and not just loyalities but lives are at stake. For when Sully makes a fateful choice, changing their relationship forever, Chaz must also choose – between what duty demands and what her heart tells her she must do.”

Shades of Dark is the follow up to one of my favourite novels, Gabriel’s Ghost, and it takes up where Gabriel’s Ghost left off. In the beginning, I had a few troubles following all that is happening and immersing myself in the story. It’s some time since I read Gabriel’s Ghost and, especially in the first chapters, there’s a lot of political background info and reasoning about political machinations to get through, but around page 50, I was there.

Again, the story is narrated by Chaz in first person, and again, it’s a story where the focus is firmly on Chaz and Sully despite all the other things going on (which are a lot). Sully’s powers get stronger and are changing, and that’s becoming a problem because

My acceptance of Sully–human–and Gabriel–Ragkiril–became Sully’s acceptance of himself. And now here we were at the crossroads again. Only this time he had no idea who or what he was asking Chaz Bergren to love and to trust. (p. 85)

Then Chaz and Sully meet Del, another Kyi-Ragkiril. Sully is thrilled about finding someone like him so that he can learn more about himself and his powers while Chaz is wary. She explains her problems with Del in this telephatic conversation with Sully:

Let’s see. He ambushes me on Narfial, blocks you, wanted to neutralize Marsh, and then locks you away from me in some mystical woo-woo place that used to be a shuttle bay. In between all that, he has an annoying habit of calling me “angel” and “lover,” walks a very thin line between harmless flirtation and practiced seduction, and then has the balls to say I’m touchy. I have no idea why I think he’s a problem. (p. 243).

In Shades of Dark, Sinclair takes a close look at what it means to be as closely linked to another person as Chaz and Sully are. It’s certainly not sunshine all the time and Sinclair isn’t afraid to show and explore the darker side of such a link. It’s also a story about what power can do to you. Sully and Del have power over others because of the things they can do with their minds which practically means they can get what they want without really doing a thing for it. The question is then: What keeps you from manipulating other people? Can you stay away from manipulation in the long run or is it “power corrupts” and it’s just a matter of time?

As with Sinclair’s other novels, I enjoyed the way she writes her characters. Sully goes through a lot in this novel, and some of it was really gut-wrenching to read. And Chaz is such a capable woman. I particular liked that she doesn’t throw a hissy fit when things get rough with Sully. Instead she takes a step back and looks at it with a more logical frame of mind. She knows him and knows how to interpret his behaviour. For example, in on situation Sully is trying to anger Chaz but she doesn’t want to play is game (no stomping-her-dainty-foot-and-running-of-in-a-rush misunderstanding here):

[Sully:] “Kyi-Ragkirils are highly motivated by pleasure. Sleeping alone for the rest of my very miserable, very celibate life didn’t appeal to me.”
“So you’re just here for the sex, is that it?”
“That’s it.”
He wanted me angry at him. I wasn’t going to take the bait. (p. 150)

Chaz and especially Sully are not characters who are all black or all white, there are shades (ha). The secondary characters, mainly Del and Phil, are not your run-of-the-mill characters either. Del isn’t a “real villain” in that he’s all-out bad and evil. The motivation for his actions lies in what he’s been brought up to believe in his society and that’s different from the things humans believe in Sinclair’s world. I also like how Phil, Chaz’s ex-husband, turns into a good friend for Chaz.

With all that is going on between the characters, there is also a lot going on on the outside. One crisis comes after another, and Chaz and Sully most of the time can only cope with them than can take action themselves. It makes for a fast-paced story, and Chaz and Sully are good are capable, but sometimes I thought this too much “what can go wrong will go wrong.” It’s only at the end that finally they are one step ahead and can take action themselves. The jukor problem is solved then, but it happens largely off-stage. This might be a bit strange, since it gives the story its external conflict and (time)frame, but the focus and what kept me reading was the internal conflict about Sully’s growing powers and what this meant for Chaz and him.

The resolution of the internal conflict was my favorite part of the story:
Chaz’s realization (and her choice then) at the end. I didn’t see it coming quite like that but it’s logical. Talk about a powerful twist. You probably could have knocked me over with a feather then. Sinclair went for a lot there and oh, how it worked.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4,5 (5-) / 5

Linnea Sinclair – "Gabriel’s Ghost"

29 Dec

GENRE: Romance / Science fiction
PUBLISHED: Bantam Spectra Books, 2005

The back blurb:
“After a decade of piloting interstellar patro 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-defence, 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.”

Gabriel’s Ghost is written in first person and told from the perspective of the heroine, Chasidah Bergren. I think writing in first person is more challenging because you have to get across what the other characters are feeling, and in a romance that is mainly and most often the hero. Linnea Sinclair managed that pretty well. From early on, I knew the hero, Gabriel Sullivan, was in love with the heroine and that he had been for a long time; and not just because he was The Hero of the novel.

There’s a valid reason why the reader can’t get Gabriel’s perspective so the first person POV really fits the story.

Gabriel has a secret.

This secret that fuels much of what happens between Chaz and him because – brace yourself – he doesn’t tell Chaz the entire truth for a long time of the story. Secrets are often annoying because they’re seldom worth the secrecy but here I found it believable that Gabriel didn’t come out with the whole of it at once. It’s a nice set-up for conflict. Chaz has to trust Gabriel even knowing or suspecting that she doesn’t have all the facts which are very important for her and the way she makes decisions. Gabriel’s small revelations over the course of the story keep Chaz questioning Gabriel and her trust in him. The conflict between believing in someone because of facts or because of emotions is played to the full. The problem of the jukor breeding (the “external” story) plays a smaller role in comparison and only takes precedence near the end (and isn’t resolved entirely).

I liked Chaz and I liked Gabriel. There are some heart wrenching moments between them and I’m a sucker for those, manipulative or not. I had great fun reading this novel and I’ll surely order Sinclair’s other novels.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 5 – / 5