Dark Space is everything I love in a book. And more.
5 silken sheets
Brady Garrett needs to go home. He’s a conscripted recruit on Defender Three, one of a network of stations designed to protect the Earth from alien attack. He’s also angry, homesick, and afraid. If he doesn’t get home he’ll lose his family, but there’s no way back except in a body bag.
Cameron Rushton needs a heartbeat. Four years ago Cam was taken by the Faceless — the alien race that almost destroyed Earth. Now he’s back, and when the doctors make a mess of getting him out of stasis, Brady becomes his temporary human pacemaker. Except they’re sharing more than a heartbeat: they’re sharing thoughts, memories, and some very vivid dreams.
Not that Brady’s got time to worry about his growing attraction to another guy, especially the one guy in the universe who can read his mind. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just biochemistry and electrical impulses. It doesn’t change the truth: Brady’s alone in the universe.
Now the Faceless are coming and there’s nothing anyone can do. You can’t stop your nightmares. Cam says everyone will live, but Cam’s probably a traitor and a liar like the military thinks. But that’s okay. Guys like Brady don’t expect happy endings.
When I started reviewing books for Silken Sheets & Seduction, just over a year ago, I said the only genres I didn’t like were Sci-Fi and M/M. Wow. I really said that? Guess my reading tastes have expanded a little since then 🙂
Or maybe it’s just that a fantastic writer can take me to places I didn’t think I’d like, and have me clinging to the story by the tips of my fingers, unwilling to leave it for a minute.
I also planned to feature a different writer in every review… and I’m breaking that rule today too.
I finished reading Dark Space a week ago and I’ve missed it. Missed the finely drawn characters, their smart-ass chat, and their tender moments.
Right from the opening line: I was trying hard to get drunk, I loved Brady Garrett. The immediate sense of hopelessness and frustration – and anger. Brady is an angry young man, but one you can’t help loving. He’s a 19-year old conscript, ripped away from his family, and the closest he ever got to sex was a furtive handjob from his girlfriend. And now, when he only has to survive another 7 years before he can leave, it looks as though their spaceship – and quite possibly the earth – are going to be destroyed by the Faceless.
I hated even saying that word. What if I choked on it and all the guys laughed at how afraid I was? Or maybe what I believed when I was a kid was true: say their name aloud and it would summon them. Like demons, like every horror story I ever heard and every nightmare I ever had.
Cameron Rushton had literally been the poster boy for the fleet, with his image used on the recruiting posters. That made it even harder to comprehend when he was captured by the Faceless.
In tactical orientation they showed us the unedited footage. Fucking wish they hadn’t. There was no noise on the footage. I don’t know if that was because there was a fault with it, or because our trainers didn’t want to scare the living shit out of us by making us listen to Cameron Rushton scream. Because he did. A silent openmouthed moment of horror.
The Faceless were like nothing else I’d ever seen. Tall and terrifying. They were more or less like people—the shape of them, I mean—but nobody knew what they looked like underneath their black battle armor. It stuck to them like thin latex, but nothing got through, not bullets, not blades, and not blasters.
Four years after being captured, an alien stasis pod is found, and inside, is Cameron Rushton. Brady works part time in the medical bay, and gets to see the alien pod.
The stasis unit could have passed for one of those, except it was about ten feet long, lying on its back with its legs clamped around an opaque sac of fluid with veins through it. It was fucking terrifying.
Just looking at it, I could feel the blood draining from my face.
There was a body floating inside the milky fluid, and I didn’t have to ask: Cameron Rushton. It looked like he was being consumed by a giant insect, or hatched by one.
There’s such a sense of dread conveyed. Lisa Henry uses sparse, blunt words, and you can see through Brady’s eyes. Feel his fear.
I saw Cameron Rushton’s eyes roll back in his face and heard his first gasping, choking breath. It ripped wetly through his lungs. The sound was awful.
When Cameron finally wakes up in the medical bay, Brady is the first person he sees, and the first he speaks to. His message is not what Brady wants to hear:
“The Faceless are coming.”
At this point, only 14% in, you need to buckle your seatbelt and switch off your phone. You won’t want to put this book down.
Some monumental screw-up took place when they cut Cameron out of the stasis pod, and now Brady is needed to keep him alive, to regulate his heartbeat with his own. They do this through touch, holding hands, and Brady can’t leave him for more than a few minutes at first. This results in them sharing quarters, while the fleet commanders consider if Cameron is a hero, or a traitor. He claims to be an envoy for the Faceless, and nobody can decide if he’s telling the truth, not even Brady. A side-effect of Brady acting as Cam’s pacemaker, is that their minds are open to each other.
It’s hard to stay private when the man sharing your bed can read your mind.
A faint sense of wonderment crept up on me as I read, and it had nothing to do with the book. I’d read it a thousand times. It took me a second to realize it was coming from Rushton.
“I haven’t seen these stars in a long time,” he said. “I was a pilot. I love the black. I always did.”
“After everything?” I asked in surprise.
His smile faded.
Living in close quarters for days on end amplifies the tension to boiling point.
“I’m sorry you got drafted,” he said, “and I’m sorry you got rolled in the showers. I’m sorry you can’t go home.”
The fight drained out of me as I listened to the miserable fucking litany of my life. I squeezed my eyes shut. I didn’t want him to see me cry. Hadn’t he humiliated me enough? “Just get off me, please.”
“No,” he said.
My eyes flashed open.
He leaned down until his face was close to mine. “And I’m so sorry that you never got a fucking break.”
And always, is the knowledge that time is running out, counting down to the one moment they can’t avoid.
With a field of stars behind it, it was a black shape. It was the absence of light. It was a thing carved out of the never-ending night. It was dark space.
It was my nightmare, and it was coming for me.
Just re-reading these quotes has sent shivers down my spine, and made me long to re-read the book again. Already! It truly is a roller coaster of emotions. Everything from fear and anger, through doubt, to love. I found myself reaching for tissues in the closing chapters, and more than once.
This is also a book where the cover design is perfect. Brady Garrett stares at you slightly angry, somewhat lost, with just a hint of Cameron in the background. The cover art grabs you, the story doesn’t let go.
This is a dark book, and not just because of deep space and the absence of light. It explores dark themes, but even when the chips are down, and the blackness is absolute, there is still a glimmer of hope. I like that idea.
PS – check out my review of The Island by Lisa Henry. Also a 5-star riveting read:
5 silken sheets
5 sexy lips
Plot – taut, nerve-wracking and totally unputdownable
Warnings – it’s M/M so there is plenty of hot boy-on-boy loving. Also references prior non-con scenes and a truly terrifying alien
Genre: Dark M/M sci-fi romance
Published: December 2012; $6.99 (Amazon)
Publisher: Loose ID
Author website: http://www.lisahenryonline.com/