Beyond the Shadows by Jess Granger (Realms Beyond #2)
May 4, 2010
Paperback, 320 Pages
Sharon, a reading enthusiast I met through Twitter is a big fan of this series, and I asked her to do a joint review.
Cyn is a rebel at heart, and wants to start a revolution to remove the Elite, the leaders of his home planet Azra from a position of power. Azra is a female dominant planet, and Commander Yara is the one woman in his way to achieving this goal. The upper classes of Azra have no idea the lower classes are ready to revolt. The people of Azra like Yara, and her transition to leader would be very easy, but Cyn doesn’t want that. He needs the lower class to have reason to strike, and he has a plan. Yara needs to return home to her planet, and Cyn has been secretly watching her for months. He makes his ship the only one available to take her home and he hides his true identity. Reluctantly, Yara boards on his ship, and the two of them have days of basically sitting and staring at each other as they travel back. It is during this time they test each other’s nerves, and reluctantly get to know each other. Before arriving in Azra, Cyn makes a stop on a different planet, Gansai knowing his ship is in need of desperate repair, and also wanting to delay the return of Yara for as long as possible. As Yara becomes suspicious, Cyn tries to stall but his plans go awry when Yara is kidnapped. Cyn has already lost a love to these brutal tortureers in the past, and deep down his attraction to Yara drives him to desperate measures.
Sharon: I read Beyond the Rain when it came out last year and fell in love. It was the first sci-fi romance I’d read and ended up rereading it a few times. I think I was missing that particular genre from my reading repertoire. I was a huge fan of sci-fi movies and TV shows but only a few books were ever enjoyable to me. I’d been hesitant to try a sci-fi romance (I’m fairly new to reading romance books in general) but the excerpts and descriptions on Jess’ Butterfly Blog really pulled me into the world she created. I ended up winning Beyond the Rain from her but then bought an extra copy as well as a digital copy. Yeah, I guess you could say I liked it.
You know how sometimes a sequel can be disappointing or a let down? I was worried that Beyond the Shadows would be like that. For me, it was as good, if not a little better than Beyond the Rain and I just didn’t think that was possible. I’ll admit that I adored Beyond the Shadows. I know you had a problem with one particular aspect though Mandi.
Mandi: I don’t read a lot of futuristic romances. Really the only one I can think of at the moment is Ann Aguirre’s Jax series. I really should though because I very much enjoy the worlds these authors create. While I liked Beyond the Shadows and I found the hero and heroine to both be very fun to read about – there is one aspect of this book that kind of killed the romance for me. We have Cyn who is hiding his identity from Yara. These two definitely have an attraction towards each other and then it starts to go deeper. When the moment comes when Yara wants to take their physical relationship to the next level, Cyn KNOWS by having sex with her, eventually the truth will come out about his real identity and she will be hurt. But he goes through with it anyway. And guess what, that very next morning Yara discovers the truth. We have seen this play out in romance over and over again. It is just too predictable and it really took away what could have been a strong romance between these two characters.
Otherwise, I did enjoy this world and these characters. Yara in particular stands out to be a strong female. What are some of you high points Sharon?
Sharon: I enjoyed the first couple of chapters immensely because they made my inner Star Wars fangirl squee. I was reminded of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Luke Skywalker having to book passage on a ship to get off of Tatooine and they were stuck with that smuggler, Han Solo.
Other high points dealt with what Yara and Cyn had to go through to trust each other during several difficult situations. You see a very tender side of Cyn when he has to do something distasteful to try to get Yara freed after she’d been kidnapped. You also get to see Yara internally struggling with her emotions when she realizes what’s going on. When they finally arrive in Azra toward the end of the book, you get to see Yara have to trust Cyn (and she now knows he’s Cyn) and then Cyn has to trust Yara even as each of them is struggling with feelings of betrayal by the other. Those were such powerful scenes to me that I felt them in the pit of my stomach.
I guess it’s funny that I would find the high points of the book being the “trust” scenes when Cyn is keeping his true identity from Yara knowing she’s out to kill him. However, I think the way he acts during those crucial moments are who he really is and therefore even though Yara doesn’t know his real name, she still knows the man.
Another overall arc of the story that I really liked was how Yara grew as a person. She grew up in a relatively sheltered and very clean environment. The people of Azra are either privileged and can live high up in the trees or are scum and raised in filth on the ground. Many of the people who live high in the trees feel that only criminals live on the ground and so therefore deserve the nastiness they are forced to live in. Yara was raised to believe that. She never knew that innocent people and children were being forced to live on the ground.
There is a scene in Beyond the Rain where Cyn rescues several children from the environment they are living
in. That’s who he is and that’s why he is pushing for a revolution. Yara has the blood of the Goddess of Justice in her, so when she is faced with several different injustices, her instinct is to fight to make them better. It’s not what she’s supposed to do as one of the Elite.
I feel very fortunate that I haven’t read so many romances that the “hide the real identity from the other person and then they find out” trope has been overdone for me. I didn’t have a problem with that aspect at all. I do wish Cyn had told Yara the truth rather than her having to find out on her own but I get the feeling not many romance books are written like that. I know there are a number of romance readers who love secret or mistaken identity books so I hope they’ll give Beyond the Shadows a try.
Mandi: He definitely acts as himself while masking his identity, and in the end, Yara realizes this and she knows no matter what identity he wears, she is getting Cyn. I will definitely be following this series for the world Jess Granger is building is very unique. Before I go, I do have to mention my most favorite character in the book – Bug – Cyn’s AI “pet.” Bug can communicate with Cyn and is very overprotective and he provides many scenes that made me laugh.
Overall, I say Beyond the Shadows is a solid futuristic romance book – with one snag in the romance for me, it otherwise is a good read. I give it a 3.5/5.
Sharon: Mandi, since Bug is your favorite character, you’ll definitely have to read Beyond the Rain. He isn’t introduced until later in the book but he ends up helping to save the day. Overall, Beyond the Shadows is almost a perfect read for me. I’d give it somewhere between 4.5/5 and 5/5.