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Saturday, August 18, 2007


****½ Shielder by Catherine Spangler. Paranormal romance.

This had been in my TBR pile for a long time. It had been recommended to me, but for some reason, I was dubious about trying it. Maybe it was the cover that scared me away. I have no idea what that cover is supposed to depict. I don't remember any tropical islands in the story...

Shielder is set in a futuristic world. Nessa is a Shielder, a race that's been persecuted and hunted by Controllers, who have all the power. Shielders are thus relegated to resource-poor areas and barely survive. And now her colony's existence is threatened by a deadly virus. Their only hope is to get the virus to scientists on another, more prosperous Shielder colony to develop a cure, and the only sure way of doing that is in a Shielder host.

Which is where Nessa comes in. Prone to seizures, she's defective, and should have been euthanized, rather than consuming scarce resources without contributing. Being the virus's host is her once chance to be useful. So she sets off in a decrepit ship, which promptly breaks down, and she's rescued by, of all things, a Shadower, a bounty hunter, Chase McKnight. And one of the main things the Shadowers hunt is Shielders.

Chase has his own reasons for becoming a Shadower, and he and Nessa guard their secrets, even as they're becoming closer.

It's not just the typical story of nominal enemies getting to know each other and falling in love, though. Nessa's mission, and her bone-deep belief in her inferiority keep her from trusting even when she'd want to, and Chase's past makes him view her actions in the worst possible light.

It's unusual to have a romance heroine with such a complete lack of self-esteem, and Nessa does take some getting used to. It makes perfect sense, though, with her upbringing, and it would have been too simplistic to have her be certain of her own worth when her entire life she's been made to feel guilty for even existing.

And there's the evil villain to defeat, and some truly engaging secondary characters, including cute alien pets, and a lovely secondary romance as well.

I'm very glad I read this--thanks to whoever recommended it so long ago. I'll be looking for the next one.


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Catherine Spangler rocks! the whole series is fantastic. A keeper on my shelf:)
I've got the next one on my To Be Bought list--I'm looking forward to it.
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