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.
This is the second in a series. Shielder was the first. I liked the first but liked this story even more than the first. Sabin and Moriah are both emotionally wounded and the byplay between the two really gave life to the story. The addition of secondary characters of Radd and Lionia were funny and really added to the tale. The returning characters from Shielder were the icing.
If you enjoy Sci-Fi romance, then Catherine Spangler is for you.