Fair Game by Taylor Keating
- Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books; 1 edition (August 28, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765365499
- ISBN-13: 978-0765365491
Video-game designer River Weston has seen her world torn apart. The streets of Earth have filled with looting, sickness, and fighting, but River knows that she is in a unique position to help. Drawing on her Fae magic, she creates a computer-generated program called Hollow Man, designed to protect humans during battle. Worlds away, Guardian Chase Hawkins has finally returned to his own body after years of astral projection. His mission now that he's back: retrieve River, who is walking a dark path without even knowing it, and strip her world of the technology that has brought it to ruin. Hawk and his team arrive on Earth only to discover that River's new computer program endangers the world all on its own. An old human virus has resurrected and mutated with a computer virus inside of Hollow Man, and it's spreading uncontrollably. Hawk is convinced it's too late to save Earth...but River isn't ready to give up hope yet. River and Hawk find themselves on opposing sides, yet drawn together stronger than ever before. But a future with both of them in it could mean walking paths darker than either of them could ever have imagined.
First off, I never heard of Taylor Keating (where did I come from?), anyways, I'm more than amaze to know that this is just a pseudonym of two authors, Catherine Verge and Paula M. Fox, known as the Taylor Keating writing team. I hope they make another series again, I'm sure Taylor Keating will be a name, bloggers/reviewers will be talking about for a while.
As for this guardian/sci-fi series, I'm a little bit disappointed that this is the third book and probably the last one, why? Because I hadn’t had the opportunity to go through the series, and even though I wasn’t really that lost, thanks to the glimpses of the past happenings and the book being the summary or wrap-up of the first two books, I just hope that I was there right in the beginning to fully be swept away by River and Hawk’s romance. But since the book started where supposedly the last one left off, it took time for me to fully comprehend where I’m at, so, as a suggestion, you might appreciate this book without the first 2, but to fully loved and understand it, you must read the books in order. This book focuses more on River, maybe there’s still a next book, don’t you think?
The writing was okay, the techno-terms are easy to understand and it’s crazy to think that River’s work benefits the demons instead of helping the people; the plot is interesting and well-thought of–interweaving different genres, galaxies and planets. It’s not only the main characters that glow, each one has its own story to tell (even the smallest part), almost all of the minor ones are significant and memorable, even the antagonists played their role well (I just hope that I had MORE time to know them). River and Hawk’s love story is not instant, they faced many trials and the sexual tension was really there, it took time to grow. Keating is a master of romance, creating a romantic saga that’s not over-the-top and love scenes that will make any blush.>: D
Overall, FAIR GAME is a collection of fantasy, adventure, science fiction and action that will leave you breathless and wishing that there’ll be more to come for this series! Highly Recommended!!!
“Jesus, River. I don’t like this. I don’t like it one little bit.”
Deep inside the guts of the city’s abandoned subway, tucked away in a makeshift computer lab, Nick Sutton slicked his hair back from his face and squared his shoulders. He stared straight at River Weston, but she knew it wasn’t really her he was seeing.
River’s glance raked over Nick in return, analyzing him with clinical precision and taking in everything from the moisture on his pale skin and how he fidgeted restlessly in his seat, to the way his Adam’s apple bobbed crazily as if going down for the third count.
Holding off on tapping into his mind—her skin crawled at the thought of it—River briefly turned her focus from Nick to the strings of code on her monitor, then back to him. With his blue eyes blinking rapidly he held his arms stiffly in front of him, groping and catching nothing but air as he tried out River’s newest software invention—Hollow Man. Nick had named it after one of the old movies from the turn of the twentieth century he and Tanner used to watch together.
She shied away from thoughts of Tanner, along with the two other dead members of their former software team. Nothing would bring them back. The best she could hope for was that their souls had found peace, something she now knew no one could guarantee.
Deciding Nick wasn’t in any real danger and looking instead for some sort of error in the implant she’d given him, she shifted on the rickety folding metal chair that the Demons—a gang of teens who ruled the city’s underbelly—had scrounged from one of the deserted apartment buildings nearby. Consisting of a microchip crafted from living tissue and triggered by River’s magic, the implant was meant to replace the need for external gaming gear. She’d also added a few enhancements to it that she hadn’t learned about in any of her engineering courses.
The implant was working perfectly. What’s more, it was perfectly safe. She’d tested it herself. The Demons had test driven it, too.
“What is it you don’t like?” she asked Nick.
He made a face, tossing his dark hair out of his eyes. “I don’t like any of it.”
Hands planted on her knees, River leaned forward and narrowed her eyes at him. “Can you give me details?”
His right shoulder jerked as if he’d accidentally bumped into something, which was more than likely what had happened. He didn’t have good control and hadn’t yet learned he didn’t need to move his physical body. “It just feels weird.”
Relaxing, she slouched back into her chair. He was a medic. Weird meant there was nothing wrong with her implant, because otherwise, he would be more specific.
“It’s an out-of-body experience,” she reminded him. “How did you think it was going to feel?”
“I don’t know,” he complained. “But I was hoping for more orgasmic and less like tripping on bad drugs.”
After everything they’d been through she wasn’t about to waste her sympathy on something so insignificant. “Level one is pretty easy. Stop being such a baby.”
“Just because I don’t leap before I look, it doesn’t make me a baby.”
She tapped her fingers on the keyboard. “Sometimes you have to trust your gut and go with your instincts.”
He wobbled drunkenly on his chair. “My gut tells me we don’t all have your freaky Fae instincts.”
River hadn’t quite come to terms with her unusual heritage and the reminder was unwelcome. “My gut says we don’t all have your instinct for self-preservation,” she shot back.
Streaks of red materialized on his cheeks. “I wanted my body back.”
She suffered a slight twinge of pity and maybe a bit of guilt. Nick had been shot trying to protect her. The Dark Lord—or Sandman, as Nick liked to refer to him—had captured Nick’s consciousness as it abandoned his dying body. River had healed Nick’s body with her magic, although too late to save him, and Hawk’s consciousness had stepped into it.
Hawk had used Nick’s body so he could protect her. Nick had tried to drive Hawk crazy in an effort to get it back.
Maybe she didn’t feel quite so guilty after all.
River grabbed Nick’s wrist and tugged, impatience lacing her words and making her sharp. “For God’s sake, put your arms down. Let your mind control your hologram’s movements and make them a little more normal. You look like an idiot and if you’re doing this out on the street, I’m sure you’re drawing unnecessary attention to yourself.”
A sound rose in his throat, a mixture between a snort and a nervous laugh. “And rumor has it the Fae are such gentle creatures.” Nick splayed his sweaty hands over his jeans-clad thighs, wiped them dry, then dropped his arms to his sides in helpless surrender. “It feels too much like being dead.”
“You’re in control, Nick. Just remember that. Once you take charge of your hologram you won’t have to do it with me monitoring you. Now tell me, what do you see?”
Nick’s arms shot straight out in front of him. “I see people walking around me and keeping their distance.”
“That’s because you’re doing a fine impression of Frankenstein’s monster. You don’t need to move around, so keep your hands down.” Once again, River grabbed his wrists and anchored them to his sides. “Remember, your mind and body are separate.”
Nick’s nostrils flared, then he inhaled and swiped his tongue over his bottom lip.
“Do you smell something?” she asked, curious about his reaction even though it annoyed her.
The longing in his voice made her laugh. She glanced at her watch and took note of the time. Tim Hortons always brewed a fresh pot this time of day, which meant Nick was responding well to the implant and it wasn’t simply wishful thinking on his part.
“Perfect,” she murmured to herself and jotted down a few notes.
“It smells good,” he said wistfully.
“Grab yourself a double double. On me.”
River resisted the urge to point out he could grab one if he ever reached level two. Even though they were underground, deep in the bowels of the subway, through her program they could project themselves onto the city streets—anywhere, anytime. Adding magic to the program allowed them to see, hear, touch, and smell. Out on the sidewalk Nick might be nothing more than a hologram, but to those he encountered he was a living, breathing, functioning human being. Her lips curved in a smile. Although a crazy-looking one.
But despite the enhancements she’d added to Hollow Man through magic, she’d also defined limitations. She wanted the Demons to be able to protect themselves, but a part of her shied away from making it possible for them to kill with a program she had created. Magic allowed the Demons to physically strike an opponent to protect themselves, and it was magic that made certain their blows couldn’t kill.
The power of suggestion, however, created serious limitations in itself. Level-one beginners couldn’t always tell the difference between a blow to their hollow forms and one to their bodies.
Every member of Dan’s gang had to learn how to work the program properly so he could be safe. No one was allowed on the street in Hollow form unsupervised until he reached level two. That included Nick.
But Nick, a man whose self-preservation instincts easily surpassed average, hadn’t wanted the implant. He’d been the most reluctant to receive it and the last to concede. The Demons, on the other hand, had been practicing for weeks and had gotten so good at it, the level twos could manipulate their holograms and make their opponents see whatever they wanted them to see. River grinned. An ability to project oneself as a “real” demon could do a psychological number on the unsuspecting. A few of them could even project weapons.
She’d have to think about a prototype for a third level sometime soon. Dan had already mastered the first two and was ready for more.
“I’ve had enough, River,” Nick announced.
She tried to be patient. “The Demons are just kids and they didn’t kick up this much of a stink after I implanted their programs. They couldn’t wait to try them out.”
He mumbled something under his breath and River decided to change tactics. He seemed genuinely troubled, and mentally, the time he’d spent sharing space with a Dark Lord couldn’t have been easy on him. It was wrong of her to expect him to be tough enough to get past it after a few short months.
He was no Hawk.
“Come on,” she said, shooting him an ounce of understanding and lacing it with unrepentant manipulation. “We just need a few more minutes. Who knows what will happen if we haul you out before the program has had time to completely embed itself in your brain?”
Nick cursed. “And therein lies the problem. You should have figured out what could happen before using us all as your guinea pigs. This isn’t a video game. This is serious shit, and the Demons are just kids.”
Nick had his faults, but he had a few redeeming qualities as well. He cared about the Demons every bit as much as she did. Despite River being a wanted woman, Dan had taken them both in four months ago after they’d blown Amos Kaye’s laboratory all to hell and put a serious kink in his bioengineering program. These kids protected them, and helped keep them hidden, and she wasn’t about to do anything to hurt them.
But what Nick failed to ...
View all my reviews