Beyond the Shadows by Jess Granger
Why This One: When I saw that Jess Granger was going to be at RT, she was one of the authors I really wanted to see and tell her how much I enjoyed her debut book. And I had my fingers crossed that they might have a copy of Beyond the Shadows. Sometimes crossed fingers work because they did indeed have some for sale. AND I got to tell her how much I enjoyed her first book!!
Steam Level: Although there are few love scenes, the ones that are in this book are wonderfully, wonderfully written. You can really feel the intensity and more important, the love between the hero and heroine. Quality beats quantity every time and the quality in this book is excellent.
Blurb: Commander Yara has spent years living without the distraction of caring for anything--or anyone. It's a sacrifice she's been willing to make. Yara has honed herself into the perfect heir to the Azralen throne, but a bloody coup could destroy everything she's worked so hard for. She must return home quickly to prevent war, but the only ship available belongs to an Earthlen trader with no regard for authority--especially hers. Cyn is a rebel, driven to protect those suffering at the hands of the Elite leaders of Azra. Using his alias to manipulate the lovely but icy commander onto his ship, he has to keep her from Azra long enough to ignite the revolution. But when he awakens a vibrant and feeling woman beneath that icy exterior, he gets more than he bargained for--love. Can Cyn find a way to convince Yara to join him, or will they get caught in a web of lies and deception that could tear them apart?
My Thoughts: I loved Beyond the Rain and was overjoyed to see a new Futuristic/SciFi author on the scene. I had barely finished it when I started thinking how much I wanted to read Cyn's story. He's the brother of Cyani, the heroine of Beyond the Rain and although we didn't get a chance to see to much of him, we did learn that he is the leader of a rebellion on the planet Azra, a matriarchal society where women rule. Unfortunately, the woman who is the current ruler was a tyrant who persecuted the people of Azra, subjecting many of them to horrendous living conditions, thus sewing the seeds of rebellion.
Yara is a member of the "elite", the highest class level who had been dispatched to hunt down Cyn, the leader of the upcoming rebellion. All this happened in Beyond the Rain, but I don't think you need to have read it to pick up where this book begins. I do recommend it though since it's a great book.
Beyond the Shadows starts up with Yara trying to find a way off the military base and return to Azra. But Cyn has arranged it that he has the only ship leaving and under his guise as Cyrus Smith, an Earthlan trader, he tricks her into walking into the trap he has set. But it doesn't take long for him to realize that Yara isn't the cold hearted bitch he believed her to be. Stubborn yes, focused on her duty, indeed, but he is surprised to learn she also has a heart.
I'm in awe at how well done Ms. Granger has done with the character of Cyn. Although he comes from a place where women are the rulers and leaders, he doesn't lack in manly manliness for one moment. Rather he is alternately masculine, tender, brave, intelligent and in short, all things that make a great hero. He rose from the depths of despair to be a true leader of people. I ADORED him and I think many a reader will love him just as much as I did.
And just as well drawn as Cyn is, so is Yara. Due to the way she was trained her entire life, she is a loner who has never had the chance to enjoy life. Political intrigue rules her life. She has been led to believe that the lower echelon of Azra are criminals and degenerates who deserve the despairing life they lead. But as she and Cyrus travel to different worlds, her eyes are opened to many of the injustices in the galaxy, softening her to seeing that Azra may just be one of the worst offenders of them all.
The romance between Yara and Cyn is poignant and almost heartbreaking. They come from two very different places. His goal is to lead the rebellion against everything she has known and hers is to track down the rebel leader and maintain the status quo. Cyn is the first to fall for Yara, but he feels the weight of lying to her as to who he is and what his real goal is. Yara starts out as rather arrogant, a product of her upbringing and does her best to deny her growing feelings for Cyn. She knows he can't be a part of her future. You can feel the longing between them.
I really admire authors who tackle this genre. Although they are bound by the rules of a romance story, other than that, they make up their own worlds, their own rules, their own types of people. And Jess Granger excels at making this world she has created totally believable. As readers we are excited to find new authors who write well written stories that can take us away from our daily lives when we need to 'get away'. And I'm very excited to have found Jess Granger. Even if you don't normally read this genre, I HIGHLY urge you give this book a try. It represents everything I love about this genre. As with her first book, once again she knocked this one out of the park. As much as I loved her first book, I think I love this one just a tiny wee bit more.
Grade: 5 out of 5
A hearty two thumbs up for this one.