Thursday, May 7, 2015

Alphabet Soup Challenge: Jess Granger - Beyond the Shadows

Commander Yara has spent years living without the distraction of caring for anything - or anyone. It's a sacrifice she's willing to make. Yara has honed herself into the perfect heir to the Azralen throne, but a bloody coup could destory everything she's worked so hard for. She must return home quickly to prevent war, but the only ship available belongs to an Earthlen trader with no regard for authority - especially hers.
Cyn is a rebel, driven to protect those suffering at the hands of the Elite leaders of Azra. Using his alias to manipulate the lovely but icy commander onto his ship, he has to keep her from Azra long enough to ignite the revolution. But when he awakens a vibrant and feeling woman between that icy exterior, he gets more than he bargained for - love. Can Cyn find a way to convince Yara to join them, or will they get caught in a web of lies and deception that could tear them apart?

Comment: Having read and liked the first book of this duology by author Jess Granger, I do have to say this is one of those cases of "why it took me so long to get to this" amazing gem in the pile. I mean, this book was really good and the only reason I can think of why I put it on hold for so long is I got the feeling this would be more about politics than society/planet rules, which I kind of wanted more after the first book. Thankfully, I was wowed and won over.

This story follows the happenings in the first book, which I read last year, and this time Cyn is the hero. He's the brother of Cyani, the heroine from the previous book.
Cyn, or Cyrus, is a rebel leader, he wants freedom and equality to his planet. The planet is ruled by a sisterhood but lately it's being more of a dictatorship and everyone walks in fear of what could happen if the Grand Sister is angered. Cyn thinks revolution needs to happen now and everything is ready for it but he needs someone from the Elite of the Sisterhood to help him open a sort of channel in order for the rebels and their allies to start the fight.
Yara is he next heir to the throne after Cyn's sister got out of the way. Yara only wants to defeat a rival before more bloodbaths and she needs to be at the temple/palace to do it. On her way she meets Cyrus and starts falling for him. But when she finds out the truth, can she help him? Or will she be the one to give him over to the Grand Sister?

I'm really giddy right now, this story has many of the elements I like in romance and the way the author used them here was perfect. It has adventure, romance, an interesting plot and a HEA!
I'm very happy this ended up being amazing, I just love when a book enraptures me this way.
The plot is simple, Cyn needs Yara to help the revolution happen in their planet. Yara is a product of the long tradition of the Matriarch ruling and she might not be convinced of the need for change but Cyn still needs to try. So he thinks he can kidnap her and give her to the rebels so she can be the face of change from a higher society group. During the time they must travel together they are, of course, wary of each other but slowly start to trust each other at the same time they feel a deep attraction.

This attraction thing is just the starting point, though. Their relationship is more complex and powerful than that and I loved how they got to fall in love. I think the author is very clever in how she creates her couples because Cyn isn't one of those overbearing I know best and Yara, despite her upbringing, isn't uppity and acts recklessly all the time.
Their relationship is balanced and I liked how Cyn changed his opinion of Yara and saw she wasn't like the other Elite females, she had feelings and she was worthy of his trust. Yara too thought badly of Cyn but she couldn't help seeing the goodness in him. Even when the possibility for treason and misunderstandings came, the author didn't make her stupid, she had her first reaction but after thinking about it she could see how Cyn really was an honorable man.
I loved all their scenes together, Cyn really needs to see Yara happy and safe and Yara can't help but wanting to see Cyn smile.
I mean, this should be whether too sugary, or too cliché, but honestly, their relationship felt so special, so beautiful, really perfect for my taste.

I think the author did well in balancing the sweetness but passion of the main couple's romance with their interesting personalities. I really like it when characters are proven wrong about others but instead of being silly about it, they act respectfully after realizing that. It was really good to see them interact.
Both of them had different upbringings, different views of reality. I liked the fact they didn't used those differences to the extreme to keep the other away, but their experiences together helped them save their lives in more action related scenes and in bonding too, for what one knows the other can learn from it too. Like I said, balance.

The resolution of the biggest issue was also well done I think. Some incredible scenes towards the end really made my day in terms of plot. The romance also ends up so sweet and amazing. I loved this book!
Sure, some parts seemed a bit more dragging, but they were few, I devoured this book in one day, I couldn't put it down. It was also very interesting to know more planets and their inhabitants and how their characteristics can help out heroes and why it's important for them to be like that. Very imaginative of the author. I think this could totally have more installments and hopefully it will one day after a certain character being mentioned as special.

All in all, a great story, wonderful really. I hope everyone can put aside any doubt about the sci-fi aspect if they don't feel like it, because this story was well thought, well structured and well executed for me! Amazing!
Grade: 9/10

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