Rating: 4.5 stars
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Length: Novel

For Shield Captain Bennet, his year of forced on rotation on the Gyrfalcon should be a chance to distance himself from the disaster on Makepeace. But it also means a year of serving under his father and of being with Lieutenant Flynn, but separated by fraternization regulations. So instead, the year is likely to be a bundle of frustration, both sexual and familial. And the truth of Makepeace won’t go away, forcing Bennet deeper into the nightmare of a growing Maess plot. A political revolution is growing and Bennet must juggle his duties aboard the Gyrfalcon, his secrecies regarding Makepeace, and politicians who want their pound of flesh.

Flynn knows Bennet won’t break the fraternization rules and their agreement to a year of friendship is the only viable option. But the forced regulations drive a wedge between them, leaving them more distant than ever before. Worse, Flynn knows Bennet is burdened by secrets he can’t share and the impotence of it all is killing them both. But the Maess threat is growing and soon Bennett’s worst nightmares will become a terrible new reality.

It would safe to describe The Chains of Their Sins, the fourth in the Taking Shield series, as the calm before the storm. This series must be read in order and picks up directly after the debacle on Makepeace. A political, military, and private disaster, Makepeace seems doomed to haunt Bennet to the grave. And now he is stuck aboard his father’s ship for a year, away from his beloved Shield, and so close to the temptation that is Flynn. It would drive a lesser man mad. In some ways we see Bennet breaking under the strain of it all, though it’s subtle. There are no emotional meltdowns or anything quite so dramatic, but we see his morals tested and old friendships are threatened by the weight of everything that Makepeace represents. Flynn is also cracking under the strain of being near Bennet but unable to touch him or act on his love for the man. It was painful as a reader to see our heroes so close to one another and yet further apart than ever. It feels like Flynn and Bennet will forever be denied their chance at happiness.

The Chains of Their Sins is, at its core, a political novel. It’s about what happens when things come apart in such a way that they can’t be put back together. At least not as they were before. All of this critical to the broader story, but even as an ardent fan, this book felt slower than the rest of the series. It sends to become trapped in the very real need to untangle its own growing complexity. So there’s nothing extraneous here, but it doesn’t move quite as smoothly as the previous three novels.

The Chains of Their Sins is a bit slow moving and tends to get weighed down by politics, but it remains a critical part of the Taking Shield series. And trust me when I encourage you to enjoy these days of relative peace for Bennet and Flynn. Because what comes next will change everything.

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