Friday, April 18, 2008

Deadly Enterprise Offers Perfect Escape From Painful Reality

Alternate realities and gun-toting secret agents usually aren't my thing, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Deadly Enterprise by Canadian author Christopher Hoare. I
mentioned that I started reading it in the E.R., and I have to say, it provided the perfect escape from my painful reality.

The story revolves around Gisel Matah, a lieutenant from Iskander, a progressive society on a futuristic Earth. Because of a blip in their space/time travel plans, Gisel's people find themselves trapped in the 17th Century on an alternate Earth called Gaia. Since it's impossible for the Iskanders to return to their own land, they aim to improve Gaia with their advanced knowledge and inventions. Not everyone is happy about the plan, especially the ruling Trigons, another people stranded in a foreign land. To help persuade the higher-ups to oust the Trigons, the Iskanders form a partnership with banker Yohan Felger. The young man has contacts in the enemy city of Lubitz, so he and Gisel set out together to appeal to the city's leaders. Gisel's reputation (her reckless bravery has earned her the nickname "Wildcat") makes her a target for all kinds of enemies, so she passes herself off as Yohan's male bodyguard.

Journeying side by side means that Gisel and Yohan must learn to work together. They are an unlikely pair - Gisel is a hardened military woman, reared in an age when women have as many rights as men, while Yohan is a gentleman from a time when women submitted to men or faced the consequences. While Yohan finds Gisel's aggressive nature appalling, he also comes to respect her cunning and skill. Gisel teases the refined Yohan about his lack of street smarts, but acknowledges he is the kindest, gentlest man she's ever known. Predictably, the two discover they are attracted to each other, although they have little time to think about romance. There's also the little problem of Yohan's betrothal and Gisel's ex-boyfriend, who longs for a reconciliation.

When the pair finally reach Lubitz, they find a town in confusion. Gisel knows the tide of opinion can be turned in favor of Iskander aid if only she can speak to the right people. But, Lubitz is under siege by the formidabble Trigons, and no one knows who to trust. Her new mission is fraught with danger. Can Gisel convince the right people before it's too late? Will her disguise keep her safe from her enemies? Most importantly (to me, anyway), will Gisel and Yohan find happiness together? Or will their differences keep them apart?

Deadly Enterprise moves along steadily, with a plot driven by constant action. The characters are likeable, if not super original. Gisel makes an appealing leading lady, with her tough exterior and compassionate heart. Yohan suits her, although their companionship is sedate and lacking the fire one would expect from a woman as passionate as the Wildcat. The supporting cast is large and thus, confusing, with few members really standing out. Still, action rules the day in the book, and that's what makes it such an entertaining read. When I first read the book's description, I thought it was a sci fi/techno type thriller, but it's really more of an adventure story. Fans of both should find something to their liking in Deadly Enterprise. Iskander enthusiasts (of which I am one) will want to follow Gisel on her next adventure in Wildcat's Victory.

So, if you're planning a trip to the E.R. anytime soon, you might as well take along a book that will keep your mind off your own reality. I recommend Christopher Hoare's Deadly Enterprise.

Grade: B


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