Gabriel’s Ghost, by Linnea Sinclair. I’ve read a few other SF romances by this author, but this one tossed me out about page 142 with a “WTH?” ringing in my head. Basically, “this book has made a left turn completely out of plausible emotional reality”.
Setup: Captain Chasidah Bergren, late of the imperial Sixth Fleet, was framed for dereliction of duty and exiled onto a near-lethal prison planet. Once there she survives attacks, and is then offered a route off the planet by Gabriel Sullivan; mercenary, pirate, and man she’d chased officially for over six years. Yes, she’d had one drunken kiss with him in a bar when they were both off-duty and stressed out – but still. Pirate. She takes his offer to get off the planet before it kills her, out of practicality. As who wouldn’t.
They get up to a space station (she’s still at risk of discovery and can’t escape) and come across evidence of illegal genetic monsters being created; Sullivan wants to stop it. Bergren agrees, because 1) still her best way out of the system and 2) she really hates these monsters.
Said trip to stop it involves taking over a ship. In the course of which it turns out Sullivan has empathic abilities and can mindwipe people, and does so rather than kill someone who’s recognized Bergren (which would start a manhunt after all of them).
Aaaand there’s where things get screwy.
Bergren, understandably, is not exactly thrilled to be anywhere near someone who could tamper with her brain and wipe her mind completely, no matter how sexy he is. Sullivan stomps off, distraught. And his alien friend, Ren, tells her that her rejection is going to destroy him. And that Sullivan’d tried to rescue her from prison before, because he couldn’t stand the idea that she would be alone and afraid.
And suddenly Bergren decides that her heart has been ripped in half, and the other half is with Sullivan.
Me: What The Heck just happened?
It just… makes no emotional sense, to me. The guy had been a wanted criminal, and gone out of his way to taunt and insult her at every meeting beforehand, according to Bergren’s own words. So he didn’t think she was guilty, and planned to break her out? Okay, still, pirate. So he got her off a death planet? He needed her knowledge of Fleet procedures/codes to accomplish his goals. And again, pirate.
But what really gets to me is the assumption that Bergren has to be responsible for Sullivan’s emotional response. Sorry, no, that won’t wash, empath or not. You can’t make up for years of being on the wrong side of the law with a few sexy innuendoes and empathic pining. And even if you could, they’re both supposed to be adults. Adults are responsible for managing their own emotions, thank you. Yes, even if someone else chooses to break your heart. That’s their choice.
The whole “tough independent Navy Captain suddenly folds because someone else can’t manage their own emotions” really… throws me out of the story. It makes no sense.
Does it make sense to anyone else?