Some of you know that I don’t normally read romance fiction. I do, however, read some paranormal romance novels, because they feature strong, independent women as main characters and have great plotlines. I love science fiction and I’ve read a few of Serrilyn Kenyon’s short stories that I really liked in various paranormal anthologies. So when I saw a brief description for Born of Shadows, I wanted to see if it lived up to the description.
If I were categorizing Born of Shadows, I’d categorize it as a science fiction thriller, with a strong romantic interest thrown in to spice things up; however, no one asked me to become the goddess of fiction categorization, so what do I know?
Born of Shadows is Book #4 of The League series. I’m sure reading the first three novels would make the Born of Shadows experience even better; however, I found it fairly easy to figure out the universe and the different cultures/worlds. Ms. Kenyon does an excellent job of integrating enough information that you can figure things out without inundating you with so much background info that it takes away from the action. And there’s a lot of action.
When Caillen Dagan was only eight years old, he watched in horror from the shadows as his father was murdered by an assassin. His dad’s last instructions to him were to take care of his older sisters, to never let any government get him into its system, and to never let anyone test his DNA – quite a lot for a small child to manage.
“There was a sadness in his father’s eyes that scared [Caillen]him. A resignation that had never been there before and it made him want to cry. But Dagans didn’t cry and he wasn’t about to let his dad see him act like one of his sisters.”
Caillen’s sisters are a handful to say the least. The Dagans are multi-generational smugglers, and damn good ones. Caillen has grown up to be the best of them all. Shahara is the oldest and the closest thing to a mother that Caillen has. Kasen is the biggest pain in his butt and is always getting into serious jams that Caillen has to get her out of. Her latest stunt of transporting illegal antibiotics definitely would have gotten her killed by the League’s Enforcers if he hadn’t taken the blame for what she’d done. It does land him in jail on Garvon, awaiting execution. Not exactly what he had in mind for how his life would end but, given that fights for survival are a daily affair for him, he goes to his beheading with all the swagger he can muster.
“Darling always said [Caillen’s] his sisters would be the death of him. Little bugger had been right.”
Imagine Caillen’s surprise when he wakes up not in hell but to find he has been resuscitated and pardoned. He thinks he’s a hallucinating ghost at first because you can’t be resuscitated from decapitation. He’s told the prison staff did a routine DNA check and discovered he was heir to a throne. When he’s told that, he thinks his friends rescued him and are playing a nasty prank on him. Caillen is told his real name is Ken Radek Aluzahn de Orezy and that he was kidnapped as a toddler, and was eventually given up for dead. It seems his real father is the emperor of the Garvon and Exeter systems, not a deceased smuggler. When he’s shown a picture of his real mother, he realizes she looks exactly like him so there might be some truth in what he’s being told.
Now this may seem like a prince and the pauper kind of fairytale ending but of course it’s not. To begin with, Caillen doesn’t really want to be a prince. And it doesn’t take long for him to realize he’s landed in a snakepit that makes his prior hard-scrapple existence look like bliss. And then he learns his real father is an assassination target just before they’re scheduled to attend a multi-world summit.
“Inside, a masked assassin had his father against the wall as they fought. Without hesitation, Caillen shot across the distance and grabbed the assassin from behind. The assassin turned on him with a curse and slashed out at him with a dagger…The assassin stomped his foot. ‘Pansy puss. What kind of girl move was that?’ Caillen threw his arm up and punched him in the throat.”
Despite the attempt on his life, Caillen’s father won’t listen to reason and insists on attending the summit. Although Caillen and his friends put as many plans into action as possible to foil any additional attempts, Caillen fears he could lose his father after just growing to care for him.
The Quillaqs are a fierce female warrior empire on another world. Desideria is the half-Quillaq daughter of their queen, Sara. After defeating her training instructor in combat, Desideria is honored by being allowed to join the queen’s guard at the summit. While there, Desideria and Caillen definitely feel an attraction to each other but don’t plan to follow through on those feelings because of cultural prejudices. They quickly become targets when they try to foil assassination attempts against their individual parents, and have to flee for their lives. As they become hunted across space, they have to learn to work together to foil the assassins after them and after their parents. If they don’t succeed in clearing their names and saving their parents, both empires will fall into the hands of unknown dark forces.
I can’t tell you any more without giving away spoilers. Caillen and Desideria’s characters have a lot of depth to them, and they’re people I’d like to know. This was a fun read with lots of non-stop action, twists and turns, and very interesting personalities. Conspiracies abound at every turn. There are plenty of space jockey battles to please even the most die-hard scifi battle fan. I think you’ll really enjoy Born of Shadows, whether you’re a scifi fan like I am or a romance fan.
If you’ve read Born of Shadows or any of The League series novels, we’d love to get your comments on them. We’d also love to hear your comments about this review.
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