ebook provided by the publisher
science fiction romance
Phoenix Institute #2
November 13, 2012
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Philip Drake is immortal by virtue of a psychic power that heals all but the worst injuries. He’s needed every bit of it as a black ops agent, a life so violent that the line between pain and pleasure is tangled up in his head.
When he walks away from the CIA, the last thing he expects is to discover someone stole his DNA to create a race of super-healers. And that the expectant mother is a woman from his past who’d consider it her pleasure to spit on his grave.
One moment, Delilah Sefton is listening to a seriously hot, seriously deranged man giving her some half-baked explanation as to why she’s pregnant with no memory of how she got that way. The next, armed men swarm into her bar, and she and Mr. Sexy-Crazy are on the run.
Safety at the Phoenix Institute is only temporary, but it’s long enough to put the pieces together. A madman plans to steal her son in a plot to take over the world. And to stop him, she must learn to trust the baby’s father—a man she blames for her greatest loss.
Phoenix Legacy is the direct sequel to Phoenix Rising, unlike Luminous which told a side story in this same fantastic universe.
The impact that Luminous has on Phoenix Rising is that it provides the excuse for telepath Beth Nakamora to be out of town and unavailable during the events of this book. IMHO the mystery would have been way too easy to solve if Beth had been around to read everyone’s occasionally tiny mind. She’s not, so it takes some more good old-fashioned talking for the good guys to all get on the same page and deliver the bad guys their just desserts.
Phoenix Legacy is a story about all the chickens coming home to roost. Including, in one very important part of the story, with eggs (or egg). Everyone’s past, including the past of the Phoenix Institute itself, come back to bite everyone’s ass one more time.
The skeletons in everyone’s closet all come out to dance, and it makes for one wild ride.
Alec Farley has been investigating the many and varied programs and businesses owned/sponsored by his late and unlamented foster father, Richard Lansing, as owner/creator/perpetrator of The Resource. Alec created the Phoenix Institute out of the ashes of The Resource when he inherited it from Lansing.
There are a lot of rocks to turn over, and way too many nasty things crawling out from under those rocks. Now that Beth Nakamora and Alec are lovers, Beth’s foster father, the ex-CIA agent Philip Drake, is unhappy that Alec is trying to clean up the existing structure instead of scrapping it and starting over. Or running away.
Drake knows that Lansing did a lot of dirty dealing, and dismantling his old organization puts Beth in danger. However, the rock that Alec turns over in this story brings way more trouble and danger to Drake than Beth. And it turns out to be a good thing.
Lansing, among other nefarious dealings, was the co-owner of a genetics lab that was researching the possible creation of a psychic healer who could heal others and not just him or her-self. Lansing and Drake were/are both self-healers.
In order to create this super-healer, Lansing gave the genetics lab (Orion) three sperm samples, his own, Drake’s, and Alec Farley’s. The kind of guy Lansing was, neither Drake nor Alec were informed or consented.
And, it turns out, neither was the woman who was artificially inseminated with that sperm. Not that she didn’t know where the sperm came from, but that she was kidnapped and medically raped, and then abandoned back at her home with a gap in her memory.
Lansing, having been a complete bastard, picked Drake’s childhood friend to kidnap and impregnate. Of course the baby is Drake’s. There would have been no fun for Lansing in tormenting a woman he didn’t know, the whole point of choosing Delilah Sefton was to hurt and possibly control Drake.
But Lansing is dead, and his partners are still after the baby, for what appear to be megalomaniacal reasons of their own.
Philip Drake, dead certain that he is not worthy of the love of the woman he used to call Lily, can’t help himself from protecting her and their unborn child – whether Lily can ever forgive him for all the pain he’s caused her in the past, or not.
It’s going to take a LOT of forgiveness to fix his earliest and greatest mess.
Escape Rating A: Of all the stories in this series so far (I’m up to #3.5) Phoenix Legacy was the most fun, at least for me.
Drake is one of those tortured, wounded souls that just cries out for healing and a happy ending, no matter how difficult achieving that HEA is going to be, or how little he thinks he deserves it. Also, Drake has been an enigma through the first two books in the series. His backstory was twisty and convoluted and sad, and I’m glad that we got to find out what makes him tick. As much as a man like him ever reveals such intimate details about himself.
Delilah Sefton, formerly known as Lily, is the first person we’ve met who knew Drake when he was very young. The events that pushed them toward an intense childhood friendship, and its brutal aftermath, were a critical part of Drake’s character formation. From her story, we find out what we need to about him.
At the same time, Delilah’s medical rape and the dangerous pursuit that follows in its aftermath make for an adrenaline fueled suspense story. The people pursuing her see her as a lab experiment, and not as a woman who was raped and is going to have a child. But then, they see her son as a guinea pig and not as a real person.
Delilah’s ability to get one of the surviving scientists to pull his obsessive focus away from his work to see the harm he did was awesome. But the surviving backers of the experiment have a hidden world-domination agenda that is even scarier than Lansing’s delusions. They are willing to do anything to imprison Delilah and take her baby when he’s born, for reasons that only half make sense to Drake.
When all is revealed, it makes for a jaw-dropping conclusion. Which doesn’t take one iota of evil away from the insanity they cause.
The romance that develops, or partially redevelops, between Delilah and Drake is meltingly hot, and even more fantastic for the way that this very scary badass manages to fall in love, be intensely protective, and still come off as dangerous and scary to everyone but the one woman who finally reaches what is left of his soul.
That there wasn’t much left to reach, and that Delilah manages it without giving up her agency or her core self, says awesome things about her character. This story is a winner.
Originally published at Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly
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