Linnea Sinclair is one of those authors that I feel I should love. Her books always seem to have strong world-building, which I love, kick-ass heroines, which make me squee, and nice romantic conflict. But the earlier books in this series did not do it for me. So it was with trepidation that I started Hope’s Folly because I didn’t think it was going to work for me very well, either. To my surprise, a shift from first person to third person and a more equal power dynamic between the characters worked to make this book one of my favorite reads of February.
Unlike Gabriel’s Ghost and Shades of Dark, the first two volumes in this series, Hope’s Folly follows newly minted rebel leader Philip Guthrie as he brings a stripped-down military cruiser turned fruit hauler to an alliance-controlled planet where the ship can be repaired and a full crew outfitted. He’s working with a crew he’s not familiar with, some of whom may actively be trying to kill him. Added to his dismay is Rya Bennton, the daughter of his former commanding officer, a rebellious, insubordinate and pretty woman who questions the things he’s always held true about himself.
I really liked Rya, who totally made this book for me. She’s resourceful and smart and she does what she needs to do, without being a complete hard-ass. I liked that we were introduced to her as she was leaving her lover, something that only ever seems to happen to heroes most of the time. She had all the qualities that seem too rare in romance heroines: she was smart, resourceful and competent. Because I liked her so much, I wasn’t even bothered by the niggling question of whether her feelings for Philip were genuine, or weren’t merely a case of hero worship. Then again, that question bothers Rya, too.
Philip. Oh my. He was my type of hero: charismatic, vulnerable in the right moments, and deeply, deeply honorable. I know most girls want bad boys, but I’ll take Philip’s strong moral code and sense of honor over rakes and rogues any damn day. I liked that he was alternately exasperated and delighted by Rya, and yet he respected her as a person. I was rooting for these two to get together throughout, because they were genuinely perfect for each other. And while the love scenes weren’t explicit, because I loved the two leads so much, they totally worked for me.
I liked that the universe is expanded. Sully and Chaz are mentioned, but they don’t actually make any appearances in the book, which gives Ms. Sinclair time to bring in and flesh out new characters. Unfortunately, if I have a quibble with this book it’s that the rest of the cast, being larger than it has been in previous books, is not as developed as I’d like.
The plot was intense, and kept me turning virtual pages until the end. The mystery of who is sabotaging the ship is handled deftly, and I didn’t figure out who it was until just shortly before Rya did. But even after that mystery is solved, I was genuinely not sure how Philip and Rya and the rest were going to make it to their destination, which made the last climactic space battle nail-bitingly suspenseful.
I still wish that the setting was a little more original and less Star Trek-tastic. And as I said, I could have handled a bit more development of secondary characters, but I finally see what the fuss is all about regarding this author, and I’m curious to see where else she can take this series.
Read more reviews by following the series’ tag.
It’s an impossible mission on a derelict ship called HOPE’S FOLLY. A man who feels he can’t love. A woman who believes she’s unlovable. And an enemy who will stop at nothing to crush them both.
Admiral Philip Guthrie is in an unprecedented position: on the wrong end of the law, leading a rag-tag band of rebels against the oppressive Imperial forces. Or would be, if he can reach his command ship—the intriguingly named Hope’s Folly—alive. Not much can rattle Philip’s legendary cool—but the woman who helps him foil an assassination attempt on Kirro Station will. She’s the daughter of his best friend and first commander—a man who died while under Philip’s command, and whose death is on Philip’s conscience.
Rya Bennton has been in love with Philip Guthrie since she was a girl. But can her childhood fantasies survive an encounter with the hardened man, and newly-minted rebel leader, who it seems has just become her new commanding officer? And will she still be willing follow him through the jaw of hell once she learns the truth about her father’s death?
Read an excerpt.
Other books in the series: