Linnea Sinclair’s novel Hope’s Folly. Twice. I tend to do that when I really love a book, getting details I missed the first time around. Here's the blurb.
Admiral Philip Guthrie is in an unprecedented position: on the wrong end
of the law, leading a ragtag band of rebels against the oppressive
Imperial forces. Or would be if he can get his command ship—the derelict
cruiser called Hope’s Folly—functioning. 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.
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, once she learns the truth about her father’s
death? Or will her passion for revenge put not only their hearts but
their lives at risk? It’s an impossible mission: 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.
This book is the third of Linnea Sinclair's Dock Five series, but it is a stand-alone novel. You don't need to have read the previous two books, even though that is where Philip Guthrie first appears. In fact, although I quite enjoyed the first two books, they didn't really resonate with me. I like my science fiction neat with no fantasy mixers, and Gabriel Sullivan, the hero, comes across to me as something of a superman. In strong contrast, Philip Guthrie is a very fallible human being.
Hope’s Folly is a love story, set in a time of political
conflict and approaching war. The human Empire is being run by Tage, who
has usurped the power of a weak and failing Emperor. Tage has decimated
the ranks of the Admiralty, replacing senior fleet officers with people
more likely to dance to his tune. But not everybody is going quietly. A
rebel Alliance has risen to oppose Tage. Amidst the turmoil, the two
alien species in the Galaxy see their opportunity to expand their own
When the story opens we meet Admiral Philip Guthrie, who escaped the
purge of the Admiralty by the skin of his teeth. He’s 45 years old, with
a shattered right leg healing slowly and the weight of the deaths of
many colleagues on his conscience. Tage used Guthrie to plan his purge.
Now, Guthrie is determined to join with other Alliance leaders to build a
new fleet and defeat Tage’s Imperial forces. But the Empire wants him
dead and the Farosians want to capture him to swap him for their own
leader, who Tage has imprisoned. On top of all that, Guthrie’s new
flagship is a very old ex-fleet cruiser which was disarmed,
decommissioned and used as a freighter, and he has to enlist a crew from
wherever he can, knowing some of them will be plants.
Lieutenant Rya Bennton is the daughter of Guthrie’s captain and
mentor, back in the day. A 29 year-old Imperial Security assassin, she
turned rebel when her father was killed in that purge. She’s no dolly
bird, tall and built with curves and a lovely ass – and a spare thirty
pounds she could afford to lose. She remembers meeting Guthrie when she
was a pudgy 9 year old and he was a 25 year old lieutenant who showed
her how to fire a laser pistol. She, like Guthrie, has a love bordering
on obsession for hand weapons. The description when Rya first sees
Guthrie’s Norlack laser rifle is a wonderful piece of innuendo. In this
scene, too, we see the connection between the two, the way they think alike.
“Is this,” she asked hesitantly, “what I think it is?”
“What do you think it is?”
“Norlack 473 sniper, modified to handle wide-load slash ammo.” There was a noticeable reverence in her voice.
He pulled the rifle out, hefting it. She had a good eye. Norlacks
weren’t common. But recognizing it was modified for illegal and highly
destructive charges … Then again, she’d seen it in action. “It is,” he
confirmed, amused now by the expression on her face. It had gone from
reverence to almost rapture.
“That is so totally apex.” Her voice was hushed. “May I,” and she
glanced shyly at him, her eyes bright, spots of color on her cheeks,
He stared at her, not sure he heard her correctly. Then he snorted,
laughing. Fondle it, indeed. He handed it to her. She took it, cradling
it at first, then running her fingers lovingly down its short barrel.
Sweet holy God. He didn’t have enough painkillers in him to stop his
body’s reaction to the smokiness in her eyes, or the way her lips parted
slightly, the edge of her tongue slipping out to moisten them, as her
hands slid over the weapon.
Ahem. Back to the review.
The love story between these two is gorgeous. Rya keeps insisting she
has a huge crush on her commanding officer – that’s all. What would he
see in her, anyway? And that thirty pounds… Guthrie keeps realising that
not only is he too old for her, but he has a duty to her father’s
memory to protect her, not lust after her. He also has to get his almost
defenceless ship past Farosian raiders and Imperial warships,
regardless of Rya and a broken leg. But circumstances fling them (often
quite literally) together in what used to be Rya’s father’s ship as
Guthrie tries to build a cohesive team from a bunch of disparate people
who don’t know each other. And one of them is a mole.
So why did this story grab me and not let go?
Because it’s so real. In Linnea Sinclair’s universe the ships are not
run by all-powerful artificial intelligences. To me, they’re not much
different from what we have now, with engine rooms, weapons systems and
the all-important environment systems all run using computers but with
people running the show. Guys get to cut code, hack, mess about in the
systems. The ships have blast doors. The pipes gurgle and knock, metal
pings as it cools, or creaks and groans. Everything smells – hot engine
oil, leather, soap, food, hair. The ex-freighter has a ghostly smell of
oranges that comes and goes. And then there’s the cat. Captain Folly,
who comes with the ship, leaves white fur all over the place and prefers
women to men.
The people are real. Guthrie is tall, smart, the son of a rich family
(which has its own drawbacks). But he’s not a superman. He makes
mistakes, has his own foibles, calls himself a Galactic-class ass on
more than one occasion. I’ve mentioned Rya’s issues with her weight.
She’s also impulsive and not much good at saying ‘sir’. The secondary
characters are just as convincing, ordinary people forced to cope with
The politics is real. I have a history degree and these things matter
to me. I can see the Empire disintegrating in this way. If I were to be
asked for a similar situation in our recent past, I’d go for Stalin
taking over in the USSR.
As always with Linnea Sinclair, things move apace – except for the
opening chapter, which I enjoyed more the second time around. This is
the third book of a series and the first chapter orientates the reader, I
guess. From there on, the author works on the basis of ‘if things can
go wrong, they will go wrong’. Guthrie’s relationship with Rya plays as
an underlying complication to all the other issues the two face. Take
out the romance, and yes, you’d still have a great story. But man, you’d
miss out on soooo much.
Oh, and before I finish, I must mention the sex scenes. They’re not
many and they’re intense, steamy and sensual, but not a how-to manual.
I loved this book, I loved Philip Guthrie. He is very definitely my kind of man. Sigh. I’m too old to be a fangirl. Five stars.
Author site: Linnea Sinclair - Interstellar Adventure Infused with Romance
Greta van der Rol loves writing action-packed adventures with a side
salad of romance. Most of her work is space opera, but she has written
paranormal and historical fiction.
She lives not far from the coast in Queensland, Australia and enjoys
photography and cooking when she isn't bent over the computer. She has a
degree in history and a background in building information systems,
both of which go a long way toward helping her in her writing
Find out more about Greta and her books at her website.
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