Friday, November 20, 2009

Dark Host by Kim Knox

TITLE: Dark Host
AUTHOR: Kim Knox
PUBLISHER: Liquid Silver Books
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 27k)
GENRE: Sci-fi erotic romance
COST: $4.25

Charis Sur has one job – to keep Lord Admiral Sir Raoul Quinn alive until the sun nearby goes nova. It seems easy enough, until she senses other agents from the Company around, and a different passenger onboard drops dead in front of her. Getting answers for what’s going on proves even more difficult when she discovers the other Mosaic around is Jason Narak, the one man she can never trust. Except now, it looks like he’s the only one she can…

Though this short sci-fi starts out action packed with tons of potential, my hopes for a thrilling romance fell a little short. There is a lot that goes on in this very different world, but it relies heavily on the element of surprise and mystery, without actually providing truly cohesive, satisfactory answers to either.

Charis Sur is what’s called a Mosaic – human with animal DNA as well. In her case, she’s a feline Mosaic, and can do small shifts to heighten her natural senses. She works for the Company – only because it’s either that or die – and her current assignment seems like it should be easy. All she has to do is make sure someone doesn’t die. With the story told in 1st person from her perspective, we get thrust into the action right away, bouncing from incident to incident with little real explanation as to what is going on. In fact, much of it felt like a teaser, which didn’t actually bother me because the story was moving so fast. I kept expecting more would be explained later, but when the explanations did finally start coming, they felt incomplete, so much so that I was forced to go back and re-read certain sections up to four times, trying to get a full hold on the history and what was going on. Needless to say, that diminishes the reading experience.

The romance gets sidelined for a good part of the story in favor of the action. That’s perfectly acceptable when it feels like it’s inevitable for the two leads to come together, but Jason is an enigma to Charis, which means, because we’re strictly in her POV, he’s an enigma to the reader. He slips through the fingers every time I try to grab a hold and understand his character, and I’m left feeling discontented because I don’t understand what the attraction could possibly be. In fact, more than once, I felt a strange sense of déjà vu. A lot of the elements in this – the mysterious hero, the god-like factors that come through in the final explanations – reminded me of the first book I read by this author, enough to stop me repeatedly and go, “Huh.”

Charis, thankfully, is more fully fleshed. Strong and capable, she’s a solid heroine to steer this novella and keep me reading, even when I wished for more. I liked her so much, in fact, that I can honestly say I did enjoy reading this as an action story. Just not so much as anything else.


7/10 – Swift and action-filled, but the explanations about what was going on felt incomplete and had me re-reading sections


6/10 – Rather enigmatic and not in the good way


7/10 – More fully fleshed, strong and capable

Entertainment value

7/10 – Entertaining as an action story, but needed more depth and answers for me to appreciate as more

World building

7/10 – Holes in the exposition/explanations left some things to be desired



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