Catherine Spangler is one of today's best writers of "futuristic romance" fiction. I read "Shielder" before "Shadower," but it doesn't matter which book you read first. Both novels stand on their own as excellent examples of the genre, and both take place on the same planet, Giza, sharing some of the same characters, but the storylines are totally different. Ms. Spangler's narratives are extremely well written, her plots are fresh and original, and her characters jump right off the page, they're so realistic. They sure found a place in my heart!
Handsome, hunky, alpha-male, Sabin Travers is a Shadower, bounty hunter extraordinaire, supposedly working for "The Collectors." Collectors are the evil folks who rule this particular quadrant of the universe, brainwashing and programing most other inhabitants to do their will through telekinetic control. Those outlaws who somehow manage to escape beneath Controller radar are shadowed, found and turned-in by Sabin and others like him. "Shadower" opens on the hell-like planet Calt, the hang-out for the dregs of the universe. Anteks, Shens, Jaccians, creatures of all kinds - thieves, smugglers, murderers - come to Calt for R&R and dirty business dealings.
Sabin is having a lousy day. The person he is hunting has eluded him and he's hot, tired and frustrated. Stepping into a local dive for some Elysian liquor, he sees an absolutely beautiful woman at the end of the bar. Intrigued to find such a woman in a place like this, he offers to keep her company - for her own safety, of course. Moriah, the lovely lady, is a smuggler whose ship has been stolen, stranding her on Calt. She ignores Sabin and enters a game of chance, Fool's Quest, with an unsavory group, hoping to win the money to pay her passage off the planet. Her subsequent good luck turns into a bar brawl. Sabin joins in the fray and the two barely manage to escape alive - without Moriah's winnings.
The last thing the lady wants is a man in her life, even for a brief fling. She disengages herself from Sabin, after begrudgingly thanking him. If Sabin knew how Moriah made her living, he would probably arrest her. Wounded from the fight and desperate to leave, Moriah decides that Sabin's ship is her only way off Calt. So she stows away. Unfortunately this proves to be a poor decision, as she inadvertently learns some highly confidential information, while on the voyage, that puts her life in grave danger.
Sabin and Moriah get along like cats and dogs in the early part of their relationship. Both are strong-willed, intelligent, highly independent people, and Moriah is operating with some heavy emotional baggage from her past. However, it is obvious that sparks fly between the two from the beginning. As the plot develops, so does the relationship, but the more attached Moriah becomes to Sabin, the more complicated her life seems to become, and she begins to make mistakes and poor decisions trying to complete a dangerous job.
There is as much suspense as romance here....and the romance sizzles. Ms. Spangler has created a grim universe where technology, progress and education do not prevent evil. She peoples her story with all kinds of fascinating creatures, and fabulous secondary characters. The author won the 1998 Emily Award for "Shielder" and she certainly deserves it. "Shadower" is a wonderful read and almost as good. I am addicted to this series. Highly recommended!!