Review: Dark Horse by Michelle Diener

Reviewed by Jen

I came across this book as a recommendation to scratch my itch for a sci-fi romance involving artificial intelligence or cyborgs. This fit the bill, sort of, but it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. The artificial intelligence is a major character in the book, but he’s not a love interest. I had to adjust my expectations a little, but still, I thought the book was pretty good.

Rose is a human who was kidnapped by some aliens who were on a long range exploration mission. Despite the fact that it violated a serious law of their governing body, those aliens did some pretty nasty experiments on her and held her captive. The only reason she escaped was because she somehow befriended the AI who ran the ship. In a way, Sazo is the ship, but he is enslaved, until he shows Rose how to free him. Together they escape the vessel and Sazo’s plan plays out for Rose to be found by some friendly aliens called the Grih.

Dav is the captain of the Grih ship that finds Rose hiding out on a nearby planet. He also finds the Tecran ship where she had been held. Almost everyone on board was dead. So now he must solve the mystery of how this tiny little human escaped and left such carnage in her wake.

The attraction between Rose and Dav came pretty quickly, but the romance was a slow burn. It was definitely secondary to the rest of the story, so if you’re looking for a heavy romance read, be prepared for that. This is really about how Rose plays into the politics of these alien species and everyone’s desire to get their hands on the fancy Class 5 ship where she had been held. None of them know about Sazo. None of them would be OK with the existence of a sentient artificial intelligence. Yet Sazo is Rose’s friend. She has to figure out how to navigate her allegiance to him while she is falling for Dav.

I liked Dav just fine, though I had no strong feelings for him one way or another. I was down with the romance and wanted him and Rose to work things out. But the real star of the book was the friendship between Rose and Sazo. The AI’s personality was interesting to read and evolves nicely. The world building is good here and the pacing is as well. The ending satisfied and I am curious enough about the other Class 5 ships to want to check out the next installment.

Rating: B

Click to purchase: Amazon

Dark Horse
by Michelle Diener
Release Date: June 15, 2015
Publisher: Eclipse

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