Friday, June 26, 2015

Dark Horse by Michelle Diener

Dark Horse
by Michelle Diener
Season Publishing
June 15, 2015

Romance, Sci Fi & Fantasy

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.

Kathie's Review:

One review I read about this story called it a "gem". They are right. It truly is a gem, highly polished and a wonderful read. 

I've always been fond of the "human abducted by aliens and finds love" trope. This one went beyond that by a long shot. Does that sound gushy? Well, it's true! We start in the middle of Rose's escape from her alien abductors. She's taking Sazo, the AI of the ship, who is housed in a crystal with her. It's his escape, too. He's been captive for some time. He's only just recently become self-aware. Much like a toddler, he has a lot to learn. And Rose is teaching him.

Rose has been held captive for three months. She's been tortured, starved, and has been scared nearly to death. But she has survived. While she's not sure she trusts Sazo, she knows she trusts him more than those who are holding her captive. She does insist that the Earth animals who were taken with her come with them on their run to freedom. 

There is a group of aliens that work together. Sazo has chosen the Grih for Rose. He figures they are the best fit for the human woman. He's come to care for her...and she did help him escape.

Captain Dav Jallan is intrigued by the human. He and his crew are in awe over the fact she is an orange...a certifiable ALIEN. None have been discovered in something like 500 years of exploration. One of the many amazing things about Rose is that she likes to sing. The Grih have very few people who can make music. It is a big deal for them...and Rose's voice (even though she doesn't think it's anything special) brings them joy like none other. 

So, she's a music maker, she's an alien, and she's keeping silent about Sazo. She's got lots on her plate. I totally enjoyed how she walked a fine line between keeping Sazo secret and trying to be fair and honest with her new-found allies. And she needs those allies because the people, the Tecran, who created the ship Sazo was the AI for, want him, and it, back. And they don't care if they have to kill the orange to do it.

Some of the most enjoyable moments came between Rose and Sazo. She is his moral compass...and she teaches him about Sherlock Holmes (leaving out the part where he is fictional) and his sidekick Watson. A truly LOL moment when she finds she may be making stuff up about S&W...but then remembers she's the only one within light years that would even know about them! 

There were several funny moments. Lots of adventure, some sweet romance, and a whole new world that I want to see more of. There are more Class 5 ships out there...and I want to know what happens with them.

I haven't read any of Ms. Diener's other books, but I'm going to remedy that soon! I loved this and will definitely read more of this author's work.

Thank you, Season Publishing ~ Eclipse and NetGalley, for the opportunity to read this book.

Michelle Diener writes historical fiction and fantasy. From the Tudor court, to the streets of Regency London, and into magical landscapes, she's never happier than when she's building worlds, sculpting unforgettable characters and crafting suspenseful plots.

Michelle was born in London, grew up in South Africa and currently lives in Australia with her husband and two children.

Connect with Michelle Diener:

Website * Facebook * Goodreads * Twitter @michellediener

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