Variation by Toni V. Sweeney
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Paranormal romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (90 pgs)
Heat level: spicy
Rating 3 stars
Reviewed by Meadowsweet
Gabriel Marsh, known as the Dark Angel, is a Federation assassin. An Angelus, he's been brought up with high moral standards and rigid ethics. When he meets Deirdre Karanov, a shy blonde with a penchant for black market coffee and strawberries, he's instantly smitten.
But Deirdre is a Variant, a type of human whose body can switch into a separate person of the opposite sex at will. She is at the mercy of her domineering Other, Lexei, another government assassin who uses her as a decoy to get near his targets.
When Marsh is partnered with Lexei for an assignment, he makes it his mission to free Deirdre from the chains of Lexei's dominance. But double-crosses, enemy soldiers, and Lexei's cruelty conspire to stop him. The more he sees of Deidre, the more Marsh realizes he can't live without her. But is his love enough to set her free?
Assassins are always a favorite basis for a book, they're hardcore, strong, usually handsome and/or beautiful and incredibly skilled. The lone assassin or spy falling in love is a well-used plot-line so there usually has to be something pretty exceptional to make it stand out. This story definitely delivers. In the first place, there's a whole set of worlds to explore, not just one, which gives this well used plot-line a good solid boost.
The author takes it a step further by mixing polar opposites in this governmental assassin team; a morally upright individual partnered with an open and highly sexual one. It creates an explosive and dynamite combination. In addition, this highly sexual character has an alter ego because of what he is; he can change into an entirely different person with a completely different personality and different sex. This makes him a highly effective assassin.
Trouble ensues when Gabriel, the morally upright assassin, falls in love with his partner Lexei's alter ego. Difficulties occur, angst has its place and a mission gone wrong brings everything together. The worlds were believable, the technology and rules were definitely within the realm of possibility, something necessary for any science fiction and fantasy story. The plot flowed well but was a little fast and some things could have used a bit more detail. Overall, this was a good story, an excellent twist on a well-used plot line that gave it new life and new interest.