Fri
Jan 20 2017 9:30am

First Look: Christine Feehan’s Power Game (January 24, 2017)

Power Game by Christine Feehan

Christine Feehan
Power Game (A Ghostwalker Novel)
Berkley / January 24, 2017 / $27.00 print, $13.99 digital

Fear of the unknown held them.

Life often comes down to a series of choices. For most folks, the options are mundane: should I have the egg white omelette for breakfast, or the French toast? Coffee or tea? The comfy Birkenstocks or the four-inch pumps? But for Christine Feehan’s genetically engineered men and women, the options are always laced with life or death considerations.

Shadow Game was the first book in her GhostWalker series, and has always been one of my favorite romances. Since paranormal is not my usual go-to genre, it’s easy to remember reading about the genetically engineered supersoldiers who could communicate telepathically with one another (and with the women they love) and rushing through the book to see how it ended. Feehan’s written a dozen more GhostWalker stories since 2003, and I have discovered another great set of characters in Ezekiel Fortune and Bellisia in her most recent installation, Power Game.

The GhostWalkers are constantly forced to make choices, chief among them who to invite into their carefully cultivated and protected lives. It’s not like they run out of milk and go to the grocery store, then BAM, run into a pretty lady in the produce section. It happens to Zeke one morning when he goes into town to pick up spices for Nonny, the matriarch of the family.

She smelled—delicious. Sexy.

He instantly had the need to touch her skin, to bury his fingers in that thick mass of hair peeking out beneath the triangle of cloth.

She was vividly alive, a shimmering, beautiful woman he couldn’t take his gaze from.

That Nonny. There’s nothing engineered about her abilities, just good, old-fashioned bayou instinct and knowing. Zeke forces himself to be civil and sit at the table in the small restaurant where Bella works, waiting on him and reacting nervously to him.

“I’ve seen you before,” she admitted with a shy smile. “You brought your three little girls into Baraquin’s. They came out eating snowballs. Baraquin’s makes the best snowballs in New Orleans.”

He sat back in his chair, his muscles loose, one hand coiled around the handle of his fork. He could kill her in seconds and be gone before her body dropped. What the hell? She saw the girls? Noticed them? He was supposed to believe that? Deep inside everything in him stilled. His heartbeat was as steady as a rock. This was his world. One of death. Of violence. He understood this world.

It’s hard to fight his instinct to take violent action and end the potential threat from Bella, but the way he’s physically drawn to her makes him pause long enough to think. She’s a mimic, able to blend into her environment and pick up things like language and the culture around her, so at first glance she seems okay.

She didn’t give off the GhostWalker vibe. GhostWalkers nearly always knew when another was close by. They gave off a subtly different energy. He was close to her. Very close. Close enough that her scent was driving him right up the wall, but he didn’t feel that GhostWalker power.

Whereas Zeke’s big choice was to put his attack instinct on simmer, Bella made her choice the day she escaped Whitney’s testing compound: she chose to linger near GhostWalker Team Four’s compound in the swamps outside New Orleans to make sure they were safe. Her plan backfired when she got caught up in their lives. Rather than fleeing to a faraway place and beginning a new life on her own, she stayed too close to home.

She wanted equality. She wanted freedom. She wanted this man. He even sang to the three little girls. He did it when no one was around to hear him.

While all the characters move forward in the GhostWalker world, there’s always the constant threat of rediscovery, and recapture. None can ever let down their guard. The scientist who created the program, Dr. Peter Whitney, is still actively working on new stuff all the time. Whitney has a legion of supporters who want to use the skills and abilities of GhostWalkers. One of them is Senator Violet Smythe-Freeman, one of the original orphans Dr. Whitney experimented on.

Violet was beautiful and intelligent. She was poisonous. A sociopath. She was also enhanced, one of the original girls Dr. Whitney had found in orphanages and experimented on so that he could enhance his soldiers without harming them. She used her looks and her voice to get the things she wanted. More than anything, she wanted power.

Violet also wants to wipe out a subset of the GhostWalker program, the women who’ve undergone Dr. Whitney’s latest experiments that have spliced their genetics with vipers and spiders. Some of those women—and their children—are part of Zeke’s family and live with Nonny in the bayou.

Power Game tells the story of struggle: Zeke’s struggle with the weight of his responsibilities versus his attraction to Bella; Bella’s struggle with finding a life outside of the lab versus staying with Zeke and building a life with him; and Violet’s struggle in Washington versus her private battle to wipe out any of Whitney’s women with viper or spider DNA.

 “I don’t belong here, Ezekiel. As much as I love the fantasy of it, I don’t fit in anywhere and I never will. Whitney saw to that.”

“He threaded his fingers through hers and pulled her hand over his heart. “You still aren’t getting it, baby, I don’t belong here. I don’t fit anywhere. None of the GhostWalkers do. Why? Because Whitney screwed all of us. The psychic enhancements were bad enough, but we signed on for those. The genetic enhancements were a surprise.” He turned his head. “You belong with us. With me.”

Despite the mortal struggle that inhabits the GhostWalker world, love remains a unifying force. After all, this is the world of romance, yo. Love is always gonna win. 

***

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Power Game by Christine Feehan, available January 24, 2017:

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Dolly Sickles is a Southerner with a lifelong penchant for storytelling. Her Secret Squirrel identity is Dolly Sickles, but she also writes romance as Becky Moore, and this year her first children’s book will be published as Dolly Dozier. She’s an avid reader of all literature, but she takes refuge in the romance genre, where despite the most grandiose, exhilarating, strange, and unlikely plot that’s out there, every story has a happy ending.

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