Warden Arie Vedebel is an exceptional soldier. He’s intelligent, well trained, and loyal. He’s also a loner, which makes his position as the sole guardian of the anomaly at Midnight Creek ideal. The anomaly was once used by invading forces, the Kimon, to enter Therlerian lands. But the anomaly is no longer viable, and Arie is there to make sure nothing happens. Until a fire engulfs the creek and a man is found in the wreckage.
Kimon General Dennick Ginn has cross through the anomaly with the express purpose to close it forever, thereby saving his people. He never expected to live through the mission, but once Arie saved him, he knows he now has a powerful ally. If he can convince Arie that everything the young man has been taught is a lie. Slowly and surely, Arie comes to see what Dennick is saying is the truth. Now the two men must fight together, and fight for their lives, in order to save both their people.
The basic plot of this story is a predictable one, though that’s not meant as a criticism in the least. A man who owes everything to his government, and thus has been indoctrinated by their lies, learns the truth from an outside source. And his own morality is so high and solid, he has no choice but to work against said government in order to save the world. What sets this story apart is the crisp writing and amazing world building. Dean has created quite a story here, painting each scene with highly descriptive phrases, so that it’s easy to imagine the landscape and the surroundings. I was drawn into and absorbed by this story. The world building is so rich and descriptive, I had no problem not only imagining exactly where the MCs were, but each piece of technology that they used.
In addition to that, we have two well-developed characters. Arie is staid and mired in routine, but he’s highly intelligent and resourceful. He’s able to think outside of his training, and shows the reader that from the very beginning. His acceptance of Dennick, and the man’s words, is easily understandable because Dean laid the foundation early on. Arie knew something wasn’t exactly right, even if he never gave it conscious thought. And above all, Arie is committed to doing what is right for the greater good. He has initial misgivings, of course. As he should. But when he’s presented with facts, there’s no denying the truth. He shifted gears with little trouble, and it all made perfect sense for who he was.
Dennick is engaging and dynamic, exactly as he needs to be. But he also read as completely genuine. He was trying to save his people and he’d got to any measure to accomplish that. He lucked out that Arie was the one at the post, and though it takes a little convincing, he shows Arie the truth. He also reads Arie better than anyone ever has, and he understands the younger man with ease. I loved their dynamic from the start, the bit of hostility that gave way to friendship and then so much more. Their chemistry was electric, and though their romance was downplayed, the connection was strong. Sex was explosive between them, but more than that, they became a cohesive team in all ways.
The one-note villain wasn’t exactly a drawback, but it was exceedingly predictable. I would have liked to see a little bit of a twist here, to really enhance this story. But the characters and rich world building more than made up for the slightly lackluster ending.
And for me, that made all the difference. The writing elevated what could have been a ho-hum and predictable tale a more than worthy read. Any sci fi loving romance reader is going to want to pick this one up. And if you’ve a mind to stretch your reading boundaries a little, then this one is a good choice.