A Dark Mission Novella
by Karina Cooper
Genre: Paranormal Romance (Avon’s first male-male romance)
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Date of Publication: 3/5/2013
Number of pages: 112
Word Count: 29,159
Formats available: e-book
Jonas Stone has been given his first independent operation: rescue the insurrection leader’s imprisoned grandson from the Mission. Getting the job done means more than getting Danny Granger out-it means staying with him while he heals. Staying too close, for way too long.
Danny is everything Jonas isn’t: confident, optimistic, honest–a man to be reckoned with. If only it didn’t mean going against everything Jonas has planned. He’s kept his secrets for years, hid behind a mask no one could see through…until now. Danny isn’t the kind of man Jonas deserves. But he might be exactly the man he needs…
I admit, I read this series out of order. This is in fact the first time I have read anything by Karina Cooper, but I do know I want to read more. Because I jumped into an established series, I found myself not quite understanding the intricacies of Church, Mission, or even what the world building was. After I realized I was in the middle of a series, I decided to focus more on the characters and how they react to each other and not so much on the world that surrounded them.
We meet Jonas Stone helping to rescue the rebel leader’s grandson, Danny, from the Mission. Slowly through the course of text, we learn Jonas is the quiet backbone of the insurrection. He works the computers and communications systems like he is a part of them. While he is behind the scenes, I am pretty sure the rebel group knows his worth even as he shies away from any limelight. The biggest thing we learn is that there is something in his past that has scarred him and left him slightly debilitated. This doesn’t stop him from living life, just makes him more jaded to everyone’s intentions.
Jonas quietly and stealthily walks Danny through his escape, but Jonas’s voice sounds like an angel to Danny. As Danny throbs in pain, he grasps to Jonas’s voice in his ear, encouraging him and supporting him with a will of spirit. Danny is in his early 20s while Jonas is in his 30s. I wouldn’t consider this a large age gap, but Jonas uses it to push Danny away, while Danny will have no part of it.
After the rescue, the two are in a safe house together. This is when the two dance around each other until Danny asks the blunt question: Are you gay? While Danny is forceful in his pursuit of Jonas, he is also a careful lover. But Jonas craves the pain to help him keep distance from his lovers. The two compliment each other from different spectrums. Danny grew up in a loving, supportive family, while Jonas grew up in the Church where homosexuality is frowned upon.
I was in love with how two people from different pasts connected with each other through just voices at first and later as they came to realize they were the one for each other. A wonderful HEA and now I am need of a buying spree to read the rest of this series. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for two such different men looking for love and redemption from their own hearts. A character driven story that grabbed my heart, take a chance and read this wonderful new novella.
Review by Shari
For my Uncle Stephen. You were the first man in my life who bravely came out to me, and who paved the way for me to be myself. I loved you so much before, and I love you just as much now.
You are my inspiration.
And for every gay, lesbian, bi-, trans-, queer, and questioning youth out there. Life can be hard, sometimes it can get mean. There will be days when you feel like it’s impossible, but I want you to know that there are people like me out here who support you. I promise : it gets better.
A blue-white light flickered in the dark. Sparks glinted off the tool racks bolted to the wall across the shadowed room, reflected from the metal braces left leaning against the desk. As silence—mind-numbingly loud, thick as water, and twice as hard to breathe—filled the narrow room, that blue-white light caught in the circular lenses of a pair of glasses and threw a glare across the screen.
Jonas Stone stirred. “It has to be now,” he said, his voice too loud in the oppressive weight of the shadows behind him. He couldn’t look away from the feed spilling its incandescent glow over his desk, his keyboard.
Because the man framed in that digital feed—the kid strapped to the chair dead center of the surveillance footage—wasn’t the first suspected heretic to sit there. To sweat there.
“Be sure, Jonas. We get one shot at this.”
His brain wanted to look at the comm unit beside his left hand. His body refused to obey, every cell focused on the prisoner’s dark, drooping head. Scarred fingers twitched, knuckles whitening, and Jonas frowned as he realized his right hand had closed into a painful fist.
It had to be now. The kid wouldn’t last much longer.
“There’s no alternative,” he replied. “We’re not going to get another opening soon enough to .” He hesitated.
The voice over the comm link didn’t waver. Not even a fracture. “Soon enough to save him.”
Only through recent experience did Jonas know that the raspy, lifetime-pack-a-day voice coming out of the secure line belonged to a woman named May. Leader of a rebellion that had saved Jonas’s life, and the perpetrator behind a string of hacking jobs that left Jonas seriously reconsidering a career shift before the Church had made that choice for him.
The fact that she was very, very good was all that kept him from throwing in the towel now.
But he’d never met her in person. Hell, he’d never met the prisoner now struggling to raise his head in Jonas’s feed, either. Instead, all he had was a picture in a box, a hacked security feed, and too many hours spent staring at the incandescent screen until his eyeballs throbbed and the vicious curl of helplessness inside him turned to a spiraling ache.
That boy didn’t belong in that kind of interrogation room.
A single light, faded blue, gleamed over shoulders broader than Jonas’s, but not by much. The prisoner was athletically lean where Jonas was simply skinny. The narrowly defined muscles of his chest were outlined by the stained remains of a thin, long-sleeve shirt. Blood and sweat had turned it nearly brown. His slumped shoulders strained against the restraints confining him to the hard metal chair, a position not just awkward but painful as hell. Jonas hadn’t seen his face for over an hour.
He didn’t have to. He knew what he’d see when—if—the kid raised his chin again.
Blood caked into a ridged scab across the fine slash of his upper lip, under his broad nose and over a determinedly sculpted chin. He’d see the blackened stains of it dried into the man’s ears, blending into his dark brown hair. Even now, that greasy fringe flopped over his forehead, long since sweating off the gel that had held it into its fashionable spikes. The longest of the textured strands would slide into one swollen eye, if it ever opened again.
The prisoner had eyes the color of the computer-lit confines of the places Jonas preferred to inhabit. Almost black, even without pain stripping them to an endless void. When open, those eyes all but crackled with an intensity that could take a lesser man’s objectivity away in a single glance. Like a hungry kid or a kicked puppy.
Or a man on the edge of desperation.
Jonas’s chest kicked.
“Let me know when your people are ready.” He didn’t bother hiding the raw regret in his voice. He’d felt a lot of it, lately. After all, he used to be the man who helped put people into rooms just like that.
“Fine.” May’s voice cracked. Flattened. “I’m trusting you, Jonas.”
“I know.” They always did. “Let me try. I’m positive I can get him out. They won’t expect it this soon.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born from the genetic mash-up of lesser royalty, storytellers, wanderers and dreamers, KARINA COOPER was destined to be a creative genius. As a child, she moved all over the country like some kind of waifish blonde gypsy and thrived in the new cultures her family settled in. When she (finally) grew up, she skipped the whole genius part and fell in love with writing because, really, who doesn’t love making things up for a living?
One part romance fanatic, one part total dork, and all imagination, she writes dark and sexy paranormal romance and urban fantasy. When she isn’t writing, Karina is an airship captain’s wife and Steampunk fashionista. She lives in the beautiful and rainy Pacific Northwest with a husband, four cats, two rabbits, the fantasy of a dog, and a passel of adopted gamer geeks.