Author: Anna Butler
Publisher: Wilde City Press
Pages/Word Count: 294 Pages
At a Glance: The start of an epic space-opera series with unforgettable characters that will leave you scrambling for the next book.
Reviewed By: Jennifer
Blurb: Earth’s last known colony, Albion, is fighting an alien enemy. In the first of the Taking Shield series, Shield Captain Bennet is dropped behind the lines to steal priceless intelligence. A dangerous job, and Bennet doesn’t need the distractions of changing relationships with his long-term partner, Joss, or with his father—or with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down. He expects to risk his life. He expects the data will alter the course of the war. What he doesn’t expect is that it will change his life or that Flynn will be impossible to forget.
Review: How do you review a book that kept you up all night, left you gasping for air as the characters struggled to breathe, and then left you a sobbing puddle with broken tear ducts at the end? I guess you just jump into it.
Gyrfalcon is the start of the proposed six book Taking Shield series. And what a start it is. The novel starts with a bang and throws readers right into the heart of the action with Bennet and his crew of the Hyperion. They are deep in enemy space, infiltrating a base to look for information on the Maess, the enemy of humanity. A war is raging, and they’re desperate for something to give them an edge in combat. The story goes from there, and the author weaves in little tidbits about the universe as the story unravels.
In this series, humans left Earth thousands of years ago. So long ago that many people don’t even think Earth existed at all. The planet, Albion, is their home, and seems to resemble Greece in some ways, Egypt in others. They have a pantheon of gods they believe in rather than one, though not everyone believes in the religions.
This book is not a light read. It’s heavy. There is a lot of military and scientific jargon because of the setting, but honestly, don’t let that throw you off. For me, it just sucked me into the story even more. I was thoroughly engrossed in the lives of the characters and enjoyed reading about the military operations as they unfolded. I loved reading about the various ships, from the tiny Mosquito to the massive dreadnought, and all their inner workings.
The characters, too, are richly detailed, from their home colonies to their importance on the ships. The two heroes, Bennet and Flynn, are spectacular. Both are expertly characterized and have their little differences and quirks that make them unique, from Bennet’s almost forgotten stutter–except when he gets too emotional–to Flynn’s unapologetic love of sex.
Bennet is the Shield Captain who finds himself aboard the Gyrfalcon rather than his own Hyperion for his mission. He is tough and dedicated to his job, but torn between it, his father, and his lover, Joss. His father is upset with his sexuality (that’s putting it lightly), and annoyed that he chose Shield over other positions he could have had. Joss loves Bennet but is angry every time he leaves for a mission, and the anger is putting a strain on their relationship.
Then there’s Flynn. He’s an excellent pilot, the best the Gyrfalcon has, but he gambles and leaves broken hearts in his wake, and has a service record as a result. Like Powell, Bennet, and myriad others, no reader will be impervious to his charms. I fell for him and he broke my heart. But in a good way. Mostly.
Reading about Bennet and Flynn actually put me in mind of one particular Star Trek: Voyager character, Tom Paris. The two men combined are so much like him I wondered if the author had been influenced by his character in some way. Tom has a high ranking father in Starfleet, and Bennet has the same trouble. Both men fail to please their father, and act out as a result. Tom is also a bit of a ladies man, trying to win over any beautiful woman he sees. Same for Flynn but with men. Both Flynn and Tom are charismatic and have their disastrous service records. They’re passionate men and expert pilots with unparalleled skills. So, if you’re a fan of Tom Paris, you absolutely must read this book.
Both men won their way into my heart, and the last two chapters of the book had me sobbing. This book is not a romance. It is not even pretending to be one. However, there are two wonderful male leads who meet and happen to tumble into bed together. If you’re looking for sex right off the bat, you’re not going to find it in this book. If you’re looking for head-over-heels romance, you’re not going to find that either. What you will find is two characters hopelessly and helplessly drawn to each other, even when they don’t really stand a chance to be together.
I don’t want to ruin the ending, but I will say that, while not a HEA, it is HFN, or as much as it can be for this universe. That still didn’t stop me from sobbing buckets of tears. And making ugly faces at my cat.
I look forward to the next book in this series. Anna Butler has found a new fan in me, and I’ll be rooting for Bennet and Flynn all the way. But until I can get that next book, I will happily purchase the paperback because this book belongs on my permanent bookshelf.
You can buy Gyrfalcon here: