ebook provided by NetGalley
science fiction romance
Blood Hunter #3
February 24, 2014
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Part snake, part human, and—some would say all bitch—Captain Tannis of the starship El Cazador has one goal in life—to earn enough credits to pay for the Meridian treatment to achieve the immortality she craves. And one last job will get her there. The assignment: protecting the most powerful man in the Universe.
Being leader of the known universe isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it sucks big time. And after five hundred years, Callum Meridian, founding member of the Collective, is bored out of his mind. But as things are changing, he’s changing—into what, though, he isn’t sure. Callum is determined to discover the truth, and he’s employed the crew of El Cazador to help him do it.
Not everyone agrees with his plan, though. His own people will stop at nothing to prevent the truth coming out, the Church is taking advantage of the confusion and attempting a coup, and even the crew of El Cazador seem close to tossing him out the airlock without a space suit. But defying death has never been more dangerous, sexier, or more fun.
Death Defying begins its action/adventure/romance/space opera story just at the point where Deadly Pursuit leaves off.
And the crew of El Cazador is being pursued, with deadly intent, yet again. It looks like all the forces they have previously defeated are out to get them, once in for all.
It doesn’t help that the Collective and the Church are out to get each other, with the crew of El Cazador seemingly caught like fish in a large, space-spanning barrel.
The Collective controls the immortality-granting drug Meridian. After 500 years, the founding members of the Collective have a few problems. They’ve managed to gain control of the galaxy, or at least their corner of it, by their control of the drug. People who defy them are banned from ever receiving “the treatment” that gives them not just immortality, but membership in the elite circle that controls the system. Very few people are willing to lose their chance at the drug, no matter how high the price for it or how slim the chance that they could ever receive it.
But Meridian has a downside–doesn’t everything? Those who take it are not just made immortal, they are irrevocably changed. Everyone knows that members of the Collective are telepathic with the group. But the whole “growing wings” thing is totally unexpected. The members of the Collective are becoming something other than human. In a system where many people consider Genetic Modification to be “less than human”, what will winged people be?
Also, a lot of inhumane acts have been committed in order to keep the supply of Meridian flowing to the select few who qualify. But the supply has run out. The planet where Meridian was found is all tapped out.
The Collective doesn’t want to relinquish their control by admitting that they can’t elect anyone else into the club. Their leader wants to let the whole “wing thing” out into the open. Quite possibly because he’s tired of hiding the fact that he can fly. He wants to test those things out!
When the Council turns down his request for the big reveal, he goes to plan B–escape on El Cazador. The fee he’s paying for their assistance is the last bit of coin that Captain Tannis needs to fund her own Meridian treatment.
Instead, the Council betrays its leader, Callum Meridian, and plans on using double-and-triple crosses to get the Church of Everlasting Life to destroy the planetary source of Meridian in a blaze of glory–so they have a public scapegoat for the end of the supply.
Both the Church and the Collective plan on catching Callum in the cross-fire; the Church because it has decreed the Collective as anathema, and the Collective because Callum wants to delve into secrets that the Collective wants hidden.
Both sides have tackled with the crew of El Cazador before, and wiping them off the face of the galaxy would be a pleasure for either side.
But the crew is much too clever to go down without a fight. Several fights. Especially now that they have recruited their own rebel alliance to help even the odds.
Callum Meridian has been unwilling to admit that immortality has gotten boring. On El Cazador he discovers that fighting for his life, and the lives of the crew who have managed to become friends–is the opposite of boring.
Falling in love is the best experience of all, and one he thought he was no longer capable of. But will loving and losing be worth the price, if he has to live with it forever?
Escape Rating B: Death Defying, and the entire Blood Hunter series so far, has been an absorbing combination of space opera and romance. In Break Out, as much as I adored it, the space opera took a backseat to the romance. In Death Defying, it’s the romance that takes the backseat, and the space opera political maneuvering that comes to the fore.
All three romances have been between a man who has been around entirely too much, and a woman who has little or no experience of sex, love or romance. Not necessarily because they are young, but because their lives have otherwise excluded romantic possibilities.
The heroine of Death Defying, Captain Tannis, almost seems too damaged to have changed so fast. She was experimented upon by a mysterious lab for 14 years, from the ages of 4 until she turned 18, and she can’t stand to be touched. She wants Meridian so she can hunt down the people who tormented her. Callum is the first man she’s ever let touch her, and she manages to forgive him for letting that lab, and other inhumane acts, be perpetrated on his watch as head of the Collective.
I didn’t quite buy into their romance, but the political machinations and Callum’s search for the secrets to Meridian kept me on the edge of my seat. The Church and the Collective are using each other, and both want to wipe out El Cazador. That ship is in everyone’s sights, and it takes a huge trick for them to escape both sets of clutches.
It was difficult to believe that the Church could get even more evil than they were in Deadly Pursuit, but they hit new lows. Not that the Collective is any better.
Riding the spacelanes on El Cazador has been so damn much fun that I’ll be sorry to see it end. I thought that Death Defying wrapped up all the loose ends left over from the first two books in the series, the fabulous Break Out and the terrific Deadly Pursuit. I was incredibly pleased, but I’ll admit also slightly surprised, to see that the author has two more books planned for the series.
I can hardly wait to see how she picks this up from where she left us this time!
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