Author: D.B. Reynolds

Shifter Planet: The Return by D.B Reynolds

Shifter Planet: The Return by D.B ReynoldsShifter Planet: The Return by D.B. Reynolds
Series: Shifter Planet #2
Published by Entangled tangled Publishing, LLC (Amara) on 14th October 2019
Pages: 276
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three-stars

Rachel Fortier is a much sought-after expert when it comes to exotic planets—especially the deadly kind. So when she’s hired by Earth Fleet’s most respected scientist to join a mission to the tightly closed planet Harp, it’s a dream come true. Until she discovers their mission is to capture shifters and sell them to the Military.

Shifter Aidan Devlin is on patrol far from his clan when he sees a shuttlecraft landing where it definitely shouldn’t be. As the invaders emerge, he’s surprised to see a lone lovely woman, who doesn’t seem to belong. But when he’s captured and put in a cage, he has no one but her to help him escape.

Drawn together by a hunger they can’t resist, and desperate to discover who betrayed Harp, Aidan and Rachel first have to survive a deadly journey to the city. But once there, they find themselves confronted by a conspiracy that goes even deeper. Because Harp is harboring a traitor. And he’s willing to destroy their world—and everything in it—to get what he wants.

‘Shifter Planet: The Return’ plunges us back to a future where a long-isolated earth-colony comes under scrutiny by Earthers once again, and with it, its closely-guarded secrets that threaten to come to light. I’ve a soft spot for this series ever since D.B. Reynolds brought Harp and its shifter-inhabitants to my e-reader, so it’s more than welcome to see that she isn’t done with this world yet.

But while Reynolds’s world-building is fascinating, detailed and complex, much of it feels—quite literally—as the title suggests, a return to the first book, plot-wise as well, only with 2 different protagonists who are much like the first book’s pairing. Aiden and Rachel Fortier face Harp’s wildlife as their main threat as well as a traitor in the midst, with Earth’s growing interest in what Harp can offer.

Reynold’s biggest attraction perhaps, was an incredibly capable heroine battling prejudices (sometimes even with a hint of misogyny Rachel faces), showing time and again how she shouldn’t have been underestimated in the wild as she took more than adequate care of herself. I couldn’t exactly understand her dogged determination to walk straight to the enemy other than the insistence he needed to be confronted and that her reputation was on the line, but it was the driving momentum behind Rachel’s actions, along with a carefully-orchestrated series of events that led to the big reveal.

Deception played a big part here nonetheless; lying by omission and distrust carried on for a while and I was relieved actually, to be past that at around the halfway mark.

What proved to be the book’s annoying downer was probably Aiden’s manwhoring ways that were repeatedly thrown in my face, then justified immediately after by the fact that casual sex was encouraged among shifters and how much the ladies loved him and how many women he’d screwed. There was the mild implication Rachel was a woman Aiden could lose his heart to and make him want more because she could handle herself around him and in the wild when the rest of the soft city-women couldn’t, and that felt vaguely insulting somehow—as though he’d needed someone to meet those standards to ‘change’ his ways, so to speak when the rest wouldn’t get a sniff since they weren’t good enough.

As much as I liked the epic adventure through the planet, the romance fell short at the end: a hurried few lines about whether Rachel should leave for earth, an even quicker declaration of love and…that’s it. In fact, much of it felt incomplete, with an epilogue that had nothing to do with the main pairing and a vague suggestion that this isn’t the last we’ll see of Harp and its inhabitants.

In short, I wasn’t too sure what to make of this. It’s a compelling read—this made me stay past my bedtime—but it’s the realisation afterward that the similarities this bore to the first book and a rather unlikeable ‘hero’ for much of it that gave me pause about what could have been a higher rating.

three-stars

Shifter Planet by D.B. Reynolds

Shifter Planet by D.B. ReynoldsShifter Planet by D.B. Reynolds
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC on October 26th 2015
Pages: 449
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four-stars

Specialist Amanda Sumner is one of the first to make contact on the Earth-like planet Harp and discovers she's the only Earthling, who can hear the trees sing in the strange forest. Determined to remain and learn more of the planet’s secrets, Amanda sets out to become part of the elite Guild there...
But there is a secret involving some Guild members–one that could get her killed.
Shifter Rhodry de Mendoza wants the Earthlings off his planet before they destroy it—even if that means denying what he feels for the fierce and lovely Amanda. The pair is thrown together in what becomes a fight for their lives. And they might just lose everything–including each other–in their battle for the right to live in peace.

I began this book a while ago, then left it by the wayside because it was difficult to get into the action immediately. Picking it up months later and soldering on with more patience, ‘Shifter Planet’ turned out to be a rewarding and imaginative read that got better and better as the story wore on. Despite the rich world-building, much of it really is about Lieutenant Amanda Sumner’s (somewhat unexplained) ties to a beautiful planet called Harp and her decision to stay after a future Earth forges a trade treaty with its inhabitant. Plunged immediately into politics that she finds herself nearly unable to handle, Amanda is determined to settle in this place as one of them while seeking membership in the Guild: an all-male, royalty-infused, testosterone-filled hunter-shifter club.

It’s only after a rather bloated setup that the story really takes off, taking on the aplomb of a quest-like journey that combines the archetypes of fantasy writing and the action-adventure thrills of cinema while building on a romance that was long time in coming.

A lot of ‘Shifter Planet’ reads like a novelisation of the pro-feminist movement, where a solitary woman takes on a very exclusive group of shapeshifter-hunter-guildsmen, with every odd stacked against her and wins, even managing to save the hero in the process. Not that I’m against the values of equal rights for women, but Amanda’s occasional petulance seemed an unnecessary overcompensation for the slights she faces at every turn. Thankfully, Amanda isn’t too much of a superwoman where every shred of vulnerability has been fully trained out of her. Without the claws and the natural strength and ability of the shifters, she’s left with her ingenuity, wits and training to survive but not without injuries and blows on the way, which didn’t place her straight in the unreachable heights of the stratosphere where only unrealistic heroines dwell.

But the back-burner romance, while gratifying to read because it isn’t instant love, was left in embers with the hurried declarations of love immediately after the fallout. While I loved their time together after Amanda rescues Rhodry, the ending left me wondering if someone had deliberately torn out the last pages of their story because there was still so much more of this pairing that could have been explored after the trials and aftermath but wasn’t.

four-stars