Lilly Quinn thought she lost her husband Jace in the mission that brought Michael Tanner home. The mission that set into motion the revelation of the Areth's true face. She had reconciled herself with raising their baby alone.
But, miracles still happen and somehow Jace is back... at least his body is. His heart, his mind, is still trapped somewhere in the darkness of an Areth prison.
Somehow she has to find a way to awaken his heart again. All the while the demon Areth breath hot and angry down Phoenix's neck... waiting to wipe them out along with the rest of the human race.
"How are you feeling?"
The soft voice was barely a whisper in the darkness, but Jace's entire body tensed painfully. He reached for a weapon he knew wasn't there, but barely made it off the pillow before his abused body crumpled with fatigue. Jace squinted, looking into the shadows of the room at the figure dressed in white and bathed in silver moonlight. Her hair looked white, falling to her shoulders and her skin pale and creamy.
She stepped directly into the shaft of moonlight coming through the window, a soft smile bowing her lips, and Jace realized he was smiling back. His head felt heavy and his eyes as if they were ricocheting in his sockets. What kind of drugs are they giving me?
"How are you feeling?" she asked again.
Either the drugs were fuddling with his head, or she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen... or, at least, could remember seeing.
Definitely the most beautiful... memory or not.
Her eyes were a pale blue, so pale they looked like pools of mercury in the moonlight. She wore a white doctor's lab coat, but enough of her shape peeked out through the open front that he found himself wishing she'd take it off and let him get a good view.
"Excuse me, Lieutenant?" she said, leaning over a little bit.
He blinked, running the tip of his tongue over his lower lip. "What?"
"You said something... I think about my jacket."
Jace shook his head. "Um, nothing. I feel like I've been dropped from a glider at Mach two-hundred."
She took a handheld reader from the large pocket of her jacket, flipping it on with a musical twitter. Jace stayed still, fighting the surge of anxiety that burned in his throat and pumped adrenaline into his blood as she moved the device over his head and chest. His head told him it was just a handheld. He'd probably seen then a hundred times in his life. But the pathetic, beaten-up and screwed-up part of his brain kept throwing him back to dark places and faceless voices he couldn't pin down or chase away.
"Your heart rate is accelerated. Were you dreaming?"
Yes. "Maybe it's you, Angel."
Her lips turned up in a small, almost unnoticeable smile.
"You gonna tell me your name?"
She swallowed visibly, pushing her hands into her jacket pocket before looking down at him again. "Lilly. Franklin. I'm your doctor."
"I thought that other guy was the doc. Michael."
"He helps me, but I'm the base doctor. I'll be in charge of your recovery and physical therapy."
Jace grinned. "I like the sound of that, Angel."
Her gaze locked with his, and for several beats of his heart, she stared at him before she blinked and turned away.
"When you're feeling stronger, we'll talk seriously about your recovery plan. I would love to see you on your feet before winter."
Jace squinted, tipping his head into the pillow to glance at the window above him. "Winter... what month is it now?"
"Day after tomorrow is August first."
"You're ambitious," he said absently, settling into the bed again to look at her.
Her lips pressed together in a thin line, a firm determination in her eyes. "I don't do anything half-way, Lieutenant."
Jace wanted to come back with another comment, but his brain was fuzzy and he couldn't string the words together in his head, let alone out his lips. He tried to keep his eyes open, but it grew harder and harder to open his lead-lined lids after each blink. Doc Franklin leaned over, her fingers brushing over his forehead.
"Sleep, Lieutenant. Right now, it's the only thing you need to do."
Posted by Sally Pink Reviews on 23rd Feb 2013
"Gaining Ground" is a pulse-pounding installment of The Phoenix Rebellion filled with excitement, heartbreak, and love. Set in the near future, 2053, the Areth are an alien race who have come to Earth to share their medical technology, but they soon reveal more sinister motives.
The novel opens with LT Jason (Jace) Quinn as a prisoner of the Areth. Phoenix field agent, Jackie Anderson, finds him and frees him. Jason is weak, dehydrated, and malnourished. He also has no memory of his recent life including his time with Phoenix, or his wife, Lilly.
Lilly is a doctor for the Phoenix base in Tennessee. Jace is taken there to recover. Lilly hopes her presence during his covalence will help jar his memory. After pushing herself too hard, she collapses in front of him. It brings a rush of memories forward in Jace and he finally remembers her. Unfortunately, the Areth prison has done its job and left his heart a cold shell of its former self. Can Lilly bring him to remember the passion of their marriage?
Beverly Surrimoto, the second in charge of the base, continues her passionate affair with Victor, the Areth traitor who now lives with Phoenix. The demon in Victor's mind makes him aware of a chilling secret that Victor withholds from Beverly. When the secret is revealed, can Beverly bring herself to forgive him?
Col. Nick Tanner finds the Eumanei home world. The Eumanei are a humanoid race who appear willing to help him, but Nick has second thoughts when he discovers that the Eumanei and the Areth are allies.
Before the end of the novel, new alliances are forged, some old alliances are shattered, and the Rebellion learns that moving forward to regain their world won't be easy.
"Gaining Ground" is smartly written, keeping the reader turning the page. Delaney hooks the reader from page one. The story flows well, and Delany weaves the threads of the plot together effortlessly. Delaney uses a good economy of words to paint her futuristic world without lingering.
Delaney has assembled an all-star cast which shines in this installment. Nick is a battle tested soldier whose determination to complete his task is a trait to be admired. His son, Michael, is a steadfast and loyal member of the Rebellion. Lilly's quiet strength and inner courage inspire Jace to find himself. Beverly's love helps Victor tame the monster within.
The love scenes in the novel are sensual and tasteful for romance readers. "Gaining Ground" has it all – love, betrayal, heartbreak, and hope.