Sharon Lynn Fisher’s Ghost Planet was one of my favorite reads of 2012. I gave it a B+ here at AAR but it came this close to being a DIK. I have followed the author religiously since reading that book. Unfortunately none of her other work has quite reached the brilliance of that original story.
Tess Caufield is a parapsychologist at Seattle Psi. Until recently her work has involved compiling data and research analysis. Then the Echos came. People from another time and dimension, they are lethal to humans of this dimension, sucking the life force from a person and leaving them a dry husk with just one touch. When Tess is given the opportunity to study them she jumps at the chance even though she knows that many of the scientists studying this phenomena are being killed by their study subjects.
FBI Special Agent Ross McGinnis is assigned to keep Tess from dying. No easy task since one of the first things that happens when he is with her is that she opens a locked door to a complete stranger only to find an Echo on the other side. Fortunately Ross and Tess are able to lead the Echo to a holding cell. Tess then explains to the very confused Echo what little they know about what is happening. He is from an alternate dimension, an Earth that has been hit by an asteroid and apparently “the destruction knocked some of you (the Echos) loose from your own reality”. They need energy from humans of this dimension or they fade.
Jake is stunned to find out that he is in an alternate reality and has become some kind of energy vampire. (Who wouldn’t be?) He is strongly drawn to the sexy doctor helping him and is horrified when he almost kills her when she casually touches him. Fortunately he is able to turn off his deep desire to drain her of energy. Unfortunately, this still leaves her icy cold and comatose. Ross races her out of the room and gets medical attention for her immediately but none of them are sure how well this will work.
It works quite well when they figure out that by cuddling in bed with Tess they transfer both heat and energy to her. Taking turns with Tess’s best friend doing this takes its toll on Ross, though. His professionalism has already been compromised by his attraction to the feisty Tess. Climbing into bed with her doesn’t help him keep his distance. Nor does the kiss she lays on him while she is still half asleep. Seems the attraction between them might not just be one sided.
Tess, rather than being daunted by what occurred, is excited. An Echo in isolation, like Jake is, will fade without feeding. However, they can hardly throw human food into his cell! If he is able to control himself as he did during their last encounter, it is possible that Tess and others can supply him with what he needs to survive. The longer they have him, the more they can hopefully learn about what is happening.
From this point on the book turns into an angst fest of both Ross and Jake loving Tess; Tess, Ross and Jake trying to solve the problem of the Echos and an evil villain trying to take advantage of the situation. There is also a ghost story involving a Seattle ferry and a lot of pseudo-science to try to explain what is going on.
The bright spots of the book are that the author’s prose is smooth and easy to read and that the story is mildly entertaining. The down side is that the heroine is more than a tad TSTL. She is one of those who can’t understand why everyone doesn’t believe in psychic phenomena and calls people who rely on hard science “close minded”. She rushes in to dangerous situations with no thought to her (or anyone else’s) safety. She is convinced she holds all the answers and flies in the face of any kind of professional ethics to do what she thinks is right. I didn’t see her thinking through any of her actions – she relied on feelings and gut instincts and given the high stakes of what was occurring that just drove me crazy.
I really struggle with heroes who love TSTL heroines and in this case that meant I couldn’t like either Ross or Jake. I didn’t feel either was much fleshed out from his role in the book, which didn’t help. I didn’t like the love triangle because it was pretty obvious that Tess could only physically be with one of them.
The story line was interesting but I felt the author spent too much time trying to convince us it could happen. There was also an everything but the kitchen sink feel to the tale with the villain, the ferry and all the other things that took place. There was a ton of potential hidden under all the extras but it takes more than a bit of digging to find it.
As far as a recommendation goes, I give it a very tepid one. It is better than a lot that is out there but it is not a brilliant work by any means. Too few people are writing quality SF romance for me to give up on Ms. Fisher just yet but I sincerely hope that her next book moves up the grading scale rather than down.