If Shield Captain Bennet hopes to have a quiet year during his rotation out to Fleet, then Fate has something else in store for him. Now relatively recovered from the grievous injuries he revived on Telnos, Bennet has been working to decode the mass of data he previously retrieved from Planet T18. What he finds is terrifying and it all centers around a planet called Makepeace. Bennet undertakes a dangerous mission and he’s forced to do it alongside a wildcard commander that has nothing to lose. Bennet is a man used to making the tough calls, but the realities of Makepeace will leave him haunted and broken. He will have to bear the burden of what happens next. And this time there is no trusty Lieutenant Flynn to save him if everything goes wrong.
I took over the Taking Shield series from a previous reviewer and actually took it over in error (I thought it was a different series). It’s hands down the best mistake I’ve ever made. These books had me hooked from the start and Makepeace makes a wonderful entry into the series. This also happens to be our New-to-Me Author Week for Reading Challenge Month and Anna Butler is a perfect fit. I’d meant to read some of her books long before now but time kept slipping away. So this was an ideal chance to try this author and what fantastic surprise it’s been.
Makepeace builds heavily from the rest of the Taking Shield series, which must be read in order. When we last left Bennet, he was recovering from the mess on Telnos and had enjoyed a brief leave with Flynn. These two seem destined to never be together permanently and while that makes me want to scream, it’s also feels very realistic and true to the story. It would be easy to just make all the barriers between them vanish, but it wouldn’t be believable and I applaud Anna Butler for building a solid, complex story without giving into romance for the sake of romance. This is well-developed science fiction work whose characters happen to be gay. The romance is there, painful and poignant, but off page and backseat to the reality of an intergalactic war.
The action scenes are fanatic here, as throughout the rest of the series. Butler writes taunt, edge of your seat moments where the stakes are legitimate. I will say I felt the situation on Makepeace was resolved a little too quickly and the outcome felt slightly obvious. Still, it’s a credit to Butler that even an event that comes off as predictable is still so enjoyable.
I missed Flynn and Bennet together in this one and while we do revisit Flynn in several chapters, the chemistry between these two is one of the things that makes this series so fantastic. There is a strong sense that even when they’re apart, these men are never from one another’s thoughts and there’s the ever idea of “absence makes the heart grow fonder” here.
Makepeace is the third in the Taking Shield series and though certain aspects feel a shade too easily resolved, on the whole it’s an excellent book and a wonderful follow up to Gyrfalcon and Heart Scarab. There are two more to follow in the series and I’m looking forward to reviewing them as well. Until then, enjoy Makepeace and all the science fiction fun it has to offer.
This review is part of our Reading Challenge Month for New-To-Me Author Week! Leave a relevant comment below and you will be entered to win one of six $20 gift cards to NineStar Press. Commenters will also be entered to win our amazing grand prize sponsored by Dreamspinner Press (a Kindle Fire filled with Dreamspun Desires/Beyond books, plus a 3-month subscription!). You can get more information on our Challenge Month here, and more details on New-To-Me Author Week here, including a list of all the books in this week’s prize.