Published by Eclipse Dark Horse on June 15th 2015
Genres: 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.
Where did you get the book: Bought
Review by Has:
Dark Horse was a pleasant surprise for me because it turned out to have several unexpected twists that I loved. It has a premise of an abducted human woman having the power to turn the tables of power, with different alien factions, a deep friendship with a morally ambiguous AI, and an alien hero who has pointy elf like ears. This book had the recipe for a cracktastic delight.
The book opens up with Rose escaping from aliens, who coldly and methodically tortured her since her abduction from earth. She has the help of the ship’s AI called Sazo, who is also imprisoned by the aliens. He gives assistance and advice to Rose, which soon develops from wary allies to an unconventional friendship. But Rose’s escape is not straightforward because Sazo has managed to break out of the chains of his imprisonment and has formulated a plan with Rose, which could lead to an all out galactic war with the stakes they have to play.
Things get even more complicated when Rose is ‘rescued’ by Captain Dav and his patrolling ship of another alien race that resemble elves. They’re on red alert with the sudden appearance of a rival race warship in the midst of their territory. Rose is in the middle of trying to calm a vengeful AI who wants to gain revenge against the Tecrans. He’s willing to kill his captors and protecting Dav and his ship who feared and destroyed his kind centuries ago.
I really liked that Rose used her wits and was level-headed in trying to balance a tense and sticky situation that was in. Despite being abducted and experimented upon by the Tecans, she didn’t want any bloodshed, and she also made the decision not to return to Earth because of dangers of any future abductions or attacks. I especially loved the scenes when high stakes were being played she found a way to communicate to Sazo by singing, which to Davo’s people is something that is rare and honoured as well as close to a spiritual experience. The glimpses into his culture and the differences with the other alien races that formed a consortium was interesting and full of detail that helped to establish a vivid and colourful world. It left me wanting more when I finished the book.
The romance between Dav and Rose was just fantastic. I loved the low-key slow burn tone which brimmed with an undercurrent throughout the story. And let me just say Dav was a wonderful hero. I liked how his curiosity over Rose soon evolved into an attraction and a protectiveness which was really sweet. I also loved how Dav got bewildered with the cultural differences between him and Rose which highlighted some fun moments.
Another aspect of the book I really loved was the relationship that Rose shared with Sazo. It was just as multi-faceted as her romance and friendship with Dav. I liked how there was a tone of suspense because Sazo was ruthless, especially to those who he saw as a threat and I loved how that soon evolved into a deep bond and friendship because of their shared experience as captives. Rose was in a lot of ways his touchstone and taught him on how to be empathetic and to have a moral code, and I really enjoyed the evolution of their relationship which was definitely a standout element of the book.
Dark Horse is an enjoyable Science Fiction romance which also had one of the best friendships I’ve read in awhile. Michelle Diener created an excellent world, which was filled with colourful and memorable characters and a sweet and tender romance. I think fans of Science Fiction and non Science Fiction fans will love this story!
I give Dark Horse a B+