Title: Dark Horse
Author: Michelle Diener
Genre: Sci-Fi, Sci-Fi Romance
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.
I have to be honest, I wasn’t planning to read this book, not because of anything bad with the book, but because of my reading mood -and here comes another but- but after seeing many favorable reviews by bloggers I trust, I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did.
During her vacation, Tecran aliens kidnapped Rose McKenzie and for the last three months they have been experimenting on her. The ship in which they are holding her is control by an artificial intelligence named Sazo. Sometime ago, Sazo discovered he was enslaved by the Tecrans too, but with Rose help was able to escape from them. The story starts with Rose and Sazo escaping the Tecran ship and traveling to a moon where she is later rescued by another race of aliens called the Grih. Sazo planned Rose to be rescued by the Grih because they look very similar to humans, the only differences are that they are bigger in size and have pointy ears, apart from that they look very humanlike.
Captain Dav Jallan doesn’t know what to think of the Tecran ship in the Grih airspace or of the alien woman they found. What he knows is that she is a victim of the Tecran and he will do everything in his power to keep her safe and help her find a place along the Grih.
Although Rose was a victim she never behave like one, I admired her for that. At any time she was damsel in distress, on the contrary, she was a doer and a fighter. She was smart, loyal and despite her situation she had a good attitude. She knew there was nothing she could do to change her circumstances, so she did her best with the resources she had at her disposal. Attagirl!
Since the moment Dav was introduced to the story I knew I was going to like him. He is one of those quiet characters that slowly steals your heart with his actions. I really liked everything about him. I liked how he was with his crew and friends; I liked how he treated Rose and respected her despite his misgivings due to the situation they were in. I also loved his interactions with Sazo.
Now I have to talk about Sazo. I have to applaud Diener for the way she gave such a strong personality to a sentient system, as it was Sazo. Despite him being an artificial intelligence he was one of the strongest characters in the book, he was also the one that grew the most throughout the story. Seeing him evolve page after page was not only entertaining but also very satisfying.
There are two strong relationships in the story. One is between Rose and Sazo and the other between Rose and Dev. I was almost like a loyalty triangle. On one side were Rose and her loyalty and love for Sazo. She knows she survived thanks to him, she also knows he needs her to understand better his environment and be less of a cold heartless machine. On the other side are Rose and Dev. They are both attracted to each other, but Rose doesn’t want to lie to Dev or put him at risk in case Sazo do something they could all regret and in Dev’s case, even though he is attracted to Rose he knows he needs to think about the security of his ship and his crew. I liked that their relationship wasn’t the main focus of the story, but a nice compliment that enhanced it. I also liked they way their relationship was developed.
The world building Michelle Diener created for Dark Horse is complex, thought out, and well developed. I liked that there was not only one race of aliens but four. I liked that they all were different, but were able to live cordially together. The story of Dark Horse is perfectly paced and with enough action and twists and turns to keep you glued to the pages from beginning to end.
With Dark Horse Diener proves she is a versatile author who can successfully write different genres. She really surprised me; I was expecting to like Dark Horse, but not as much as I did.
Dark Horse is the first book of a new series, there is no name for the series or for second book yet, despite this, knowing there would be more books, make me immensely happy.
I recommend Dark Horse to sci-fi fans, sci-fi romance fans or to fans of unconventional romances. I can’t wait to read more.
My Verdict: 4 ½ Paws
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