Saturday, November 05, 2011

Born of Shadows by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Caillen Dagen is the half-brother of the bounty huntress Shahara Dagen. He's a smuggler, and pretty much good enough not to get caught. But when his sister Kasen gets in trouble, he's enough of a gentleman not to drag her down with him- because she would crumble and fold the minute any authority would start questioning her, torture or not, while he knows he can stand on his own, and often has.

However, Kasen is smuggling an antibiotic so potent that it's completely outlawed by a number of systems under the control of the pharmaceutical companies who don't want it cutting into their enormously bloated profits- and in the system they are in, it carries a death sentence. Cai hates that, but he's willing to face it, until his execution is cut short by the knowledge that he is a Prince, the son of Emperor Evzen of the Garvon and Exeter systems. Caillen has a hard time believing it, and he doesn't want to be an Aristo, since he hates that more than anything, but at the same time, he also doesn't want to die, and he guesses that going with the Emperor and learning to be his heir beats being killed for being a smuggler of prillion.

However, learning to be a Prince of the kind that he thinks his father wants is very hard for him. His upbringing has been anything BUT Princelike, and with his father going into talks with the Quillaq Empire, he wants to keep him safe, because his father has always been the target of assassins. Still, knowing that is nothing compared to having to rescue your father from one yourself, and his dad's lacksadaisical attitude towards the situation doesn't help.

Meanwhile, Desideria of Qillaq is a member of the Royal family, but her position hasn't made her life any pampered or easier. In fact, because her father was actually able to escape his servitude to her mother, the Empress, has made her genetic heritage looked down upon and her life a living hell. Anyone who is able to kill her or humiliate her won't be punished- they'll be lionized, including her own half-sisters and her other relatives. So, when her mother takes her along to the talks with Emperor Evzen and his Empire, it's a signal honor like nothing she's ever known- even if all her mother's other guards hate her and despise her- and make no secret of it.

But when an assassin kills her mother's guards, and nearly her mother, she's the only survivor, and thinks that Emperor Evzen's people are responsible- and Caillen is most insistent that his father had nothing to do with it. Alone and at the mercy of Caillen and his people should the assassins try again, Desideria must team up with Caillen to find out who is really responsible for the attack on her mother. But as she begins to have feelings for this most unusual Emperor's son, who treats her like she's valuable and worthwhile instead of worthless trash as her own people do, can she prevent the takeover of her own planet and save her mother and her people from those who would wish them harm?

Caillen has never felt this way about anyone, and he can't see why anyone would reject such a strong and intelligent woman. Can he convince Desideria that he is on her side and that she has worth in herself? Or will politics end up rending them apart- with each Empire blaming the other for assassinations and attempting to start a war?

This is the first new book in the League novels in some time, and to be honest, I wished I liked it more than I did. But it has the same problem that plagues the other series that Sherrilyn Kenyon writes- reusing the same background and ideas. So far, every man in the League novels has turned out to be some sort of Prince. Every one, and every one, of course, has the requisite "My background is shittier! No, mine is!" contest that is making me sick of her heroes. It's okay a few times, but that horse she is beating is just stinky bones- not just dead, but completely decomposed for me.

What I liked was that the heroine in this one has a shitty life, too. In fact, it's worse than the hero's. This is a first for a Kenyon book, and was at least a change from what I was used to. It's not just the heroine making it all better for the hero by applying her love and body to his life, but the hero doing the same for her. Again, a huge change. I only can see that there is some sequel-baiting for Desideria's brother, who finds out his mother wasn't as big a bitch as he thought she was, but the "secret King/Royalty" bit is getting old. And so is the "I've had the shittiest life ever" competition going on among her heroes. Honestly, can't she try something new?

It was an okay book, and really only okay to me, because I am getting tired with the overused tropes in her stories. I'd really like to see her try something different for a change. There are other ways to generate conflict than someone whose life has been total shit as a reason to be untrusting and cynical. It's typical Sherrilyn Kenyon. Whether you see that as a plus or a minus is up to you as a reader.

No comments: