Title: Heart Scarab (Taking Shield #2)
Author: Anna Butler
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: July 22, 2015
Genre(s): Science Fiction
Page Count: 300
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
In Heart Scarab, set more than a year and a half after Gyrfalcon, Shield Captain Bennet’s company is on a planet in imminent danger of being overrun by the Maess. Telnos is an unpleasant little planet, inhabited by religious fanatics in the festering marshlands and unregistered miners running illegal solactinium mines up in the hills. But the Maess want Telnos, and Bennet’s job is to get out as many civilians as he can. The enemy arrives before the evacuation is complete. Caught in a vicious fire fight, Bennet is left behind, presumed dead.
His family is grieving. Joss, his long-term partner, grieves with them; lost, unhappy, remorseful. First Lieutenant Flynn has no official ‘rights’ here. He isn’t family. He isn’t partner or lover.
All he is, is broken.
The ending to Gyrfalcon left me wanting more. Heart Scarab delivered in spades. I really wanted to skip to the end to find. Out. What. Happens. I resisted…. It wasn’t easy, I tell you.
As with the first book in the series, this is a plot and character driven book. Our dashing Shield Captain Bennet is left behind on the planet Telnos after an evacuation mission is unexpectedly attacked by the Maess. He’s found in a pile of corpses by an illegal miner and together they manage to scrabble together what survivors they can.
Meanwhile, in the solar system at large, Joss (his partner of seven years) and Bennet’s family mourn his loss. Assuming the worse, they are understandably devastated. This is where the reader learns more of the background between Joss and Bennet’s relationship, how Bennet’s relationship with his father went south, and a closer look at Bennet’s family dynamics.
It’s been two years since Lieutenant Flynn saved Bennet from the Shield mission on a Maess base. Flynn finds out about the botched evacuation mission from a news feed. He’s absolutely devastated. More character building, the plot builds. So hard to not skip even just a bit!!
I am going to refrain from saying too much about this book, because there is so much going on. The plot is strong. The characters well-rounded. The emotional tension just keeps building. It is well constructed, well written, and fast paced.
Two small complaints: I noticed everyone seems to pat people on the hand (knee, shoulder, arm, etc.) in consolation and comfort. One person doing it is a character trait, more than one it becomes odd. Since I noticed, it became a bit annoying.
The other complaint with the book lies in the ending, of which I cannot speak about here (I don’t do spoilers), but it left me… uneasy. An almost WTHeck?! moment. Not quite a cliff hanger, but it had me drumming my fingers on the table going Hmm…
It’s guaranteed that I will be reading the next one.