Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews

Silver Shark
Ilona Andrews

My book reading has taken a little detour into contemporary YA this month (three reviews in the genre forthcoming), but never fear, I’m not abandoning my love of speculative fiction.

Here’s a novella to tide you over. Silver Shark is the second novella set in the Kinsmen universe (the first is Silent Blade, which was published by Samhain, but each book can be read out of order), which is being self-published by the authors. This review is based on an eARC that I requested and received from Ilona Andrews.

The Premise: Captain Claire Shannon is the leader of a team of psychers on the planet Uley. For 300 years her people on the Western Continent have been fighting a war against the Eastern Continent. Claire’s team uses their mind to connect to biological computer networks . They can infiltrate enemy networks, take data, and kill telepathically. They are incredible weapons, and when her side loses the war, aware that her abilities make her a dangerous tool no one wants alive, she hides herself in the civilian population and is shipped off as a refugee. Her mind hidden behind layers of protection, Claire is just a mousy secretary on the planet Rada, but hiding her true ability could be a problem, because her first job interview is for a position with Guardian Inc, which is a company that specializes in “Extrasensory Security Protocols and Biocybernetic Safety”. In other words, she has landed in the midst of pyschers, and her boss, Venturo Escana, head of the Enscana kinsmen family and Grade A pyscher, is the lion in this proverbial den.

Read an Excerpt of Silver Shark here

My Thoughts: Rada, the world in which most of Silver Shark takes place, is also the same world that Silent Blade was set, but while Silent Blade dealt with hired assassins, and physical abilities, Silver Shark is more about telepathic ability and hidden identity. In other words, you don’t need to have knowledge of the world building of one of the novella’s to understand and appreciate the other. In my opinion they may be read in any order, although yes, the couple from Silent Blade does make a cameo in Silver Shark, but I don’t think that a couple getting together in a romance counts as a spoiler.

Silver Shark is 98 pages (ARC length) compared to the 48 paged Silent Blade, so it’s no surprise that the world building felt more involved. This story revisits Rada, but describes it as seen from a foreigner’s perspective – very bright and beautiful compared to the drab, utilitarian (and war torn) Uley, Claire’s home planet.  I liked the way these places worked with the plot, but what I particularly liked was the depiction of the biological computer networks that only telepaths can access. The visual representation of code reminded me of the Scarabaeus series by Sara Creasy, but it in not quite the same way – more like being inside a dream than outside it. I really liked how lush and dangerous this computer world was and how Claire and others saw it.

This is a science fiction romance spin on the boss/secretary trope. In this case, the boss, Venturo Escana has little clue that the drab off-worlder that he decided to rescue is in fact a psycher like himself. Claire on the other hand, is very aware that the first impression she made was off as a fresh-off-the-boat bumpkin, but while her suppression of her true self keeps Claire safe, her attraction to Venturo makes her unhappy that he doesn’t know the real her. I really liked how the story drew out the tension of Claire’s dueling desires and the potential that she would be discovered (and shipped back to certain death in Uley). With this being a romance, as a reader you know Venturo has to find out, but the when and how are unknowns. All I will say is that the execution of the reveal was delicious.

I was also tickled by the thoughtful spins that were put into the boss/secretary story. Of course there is the science fiction setting that is integrated into Venturo’s business, which involves providing security for systems that run on biological networks, but there more than that. For instance the issue of power and consent is addressed in a unique way (which as a bonus shows some insight into Venturo’s POV).  The subplot of cut-throat competitors and a long term grudge with the owner of a rival firm was another nice touch that felt familiar and yet different from your usual Businessman Boss romance.

In the end I really enjoyed this one, and I do find myself rereading my favorite bits with a bit of a grin on my face. The only thing that kept it from being a home run was my reaction to the ending. I felt like I didn’t really get an explanation from Venturo for his decisions, and the story switches gears and ends before we ever do. If not for that feeling of incompleteness, this checks all my boxes. Recommended unreservedly.

Overall: Really, really enjoyable. If you like Boss/Secretary romances, Ilona Andrews, or SFR, then get this. I think $2.99 is a steal for this feel good, entertaining SFR that you could read in one sitting.

Buy: Amazon (kindle) | B&N (nook)

Other reviews:
Leontine’s Book Realm – 4 stars (out of 5)
Literary Escapism – positive
Chachic’s Book Nook – positive

10 thoughts on “Silver Shark by Ilona Andrews

  1. Delicious indeed! You already know that I enjoyed reading this one as much as you did. It’s the perfect kind of read after a tiring day because it’s a great romantic story that you can finish in one sitting. I hope they write more stories set in this world! They’re pretty busy with their line up for next year though.

    I really should read Sara Creasy soon, Ilona recommended her books as well.

    • Agreed. 🙂

      Yes, I liked the Sara Creasy books (particularly book 1), but it looks like a lot of people found the “read between the lines” bits of the romance in the first book hard to get into. Made the relationship muted. So that’s my only warning about that book – worked wonderfully for me, may not work for everyone.

      • All right, thanks for the heads up! The first book is already on my wishlist but as always, I have no idea when I’ll get around to it. I kind of feel that I should read my Vorkosigan copies before I go into other sci-fi series.

        • No worries. I should read my Vorkosigan books too. Someone unloaded a BUNCH of them at the library so I picked up about 7 of them for $3.50 (50 cents each). One of the best book deals I ever had!

          • Some of my Vorkosigan books are used copies! So I got them real cheap too. But not as low as 50 cents each. I think I have most of the books in the series but I’ve only read Young Miles. I want to read the one about Cordelia because I heard that’s more romantic sci fi than anything else in the series.

  2. Oh, thanks for the review. I really need to get on the ball and read Silent Blade and this. $2.99 is a no-brainer. So do they both have sexytimes? How explicit would you say? I liked the code in the Scarabaeus series too, although I didn’t finish the second book. Sorry, this comment is all over the place.

    • Haha, yes, they both have the sexytimes. SILVER SHARK has it once, and not early on. I can’t recall the amount of sexytimes in SILENT BLADE, but the story had them both more clear to each other about their attraction (SILVER SHARK has its characters keeping their feelings closer to the chest, but Claire’s attraction is noted – she has a thought or two of him naked..which she realizes is totally inappropriate, so).

      I am not sure how you will like the sexytimes or not. I feel like Andrews does it in a way that I find less cheesy than others…like she doesn’t put a lot of “sexytimes for the sake of sexytimes” into her stories, but if you don’t like ANY of that kind of thing, it’s hard to say. I find that people who generally don’t like stories that are relationship driven may not like this, but you do like some relationship stuff. The world building/SF stuff is also pretty light here in my opinion. Lighter than Scarabaeus.

      • Lol, thanks for the lowdown. I’m not against them, but if they are cheesy or just for the sake of sexytimes like you said, than I don’t love them, I used to skimming/skipping if necessary.

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