Hope’s Folly by Linnea Sinclair is the third science fiction romance novel set in the Dock 5/Gabriel’s Ghost Universe. The first two books, Gabriel’s Ghost and Shades of Dark, are closely connected and focus on the adventures of former Fleet Captain Chaz Bergren and Gabriel Sullivan. Hope’s Folly takes place after the first two novels and does refer to previous events but it only mentions Chaz and Sullivan. The stars of this story are Philip Guthrie, Chaz’s ex-husband who appeared in both previous books, and Rya Bennton. This could work as a stand alone book, particularly since references to previous events are explained, but I highly recommend reading the first two books first, beginning with Gabriel’s Ghost. Familiarity with events in the first two books and Philip’s character thus far is best, and personally, I much prefer the darkness and complexity of the first two books to this lighter novel.
Although he was a respected admiral in the Fleet, forty-five year old Philip Guthrie is now a rebel hunted by the Empire due to his opposition to their dastardly deeds. He’s still recovering from an injury, but there is no rest for the weary when you’re the target of the head of an evil intergalactic empire. So Philip gathers a crew that is not technically large enough to run the only ship he can afford, the archaic Hope’s Folly. Although the ship is not in the best shape, Philip soon wonders if difficulty with getting it functioning could be caused by a traitor in their midst.
In addition these problems, Philip has another concern – his new security guard Rya Bennton, the daughter of a good friend who recently died in one of Philip’s missions. Rya, who is sixteen years younger than he, has had a crush on Philip since she first met him at 10 years old. At the time, Philip thought her an annoying little brat but now he’s seeing her in a new – and very attractive – light. After his relationship with Chaz deteriorated, Philip believes he’s not fit for a relationship, especially with a woman young enough to be his niece. Rya adores Philip but believes he could never care for a woman who needs to lose about 30 pounds.
Hope’s Folly is much lighter than its two predecessors, which is not necessarily a bad thing, especially after just how dark the last book was. My personal preference is to read about complex characters and relationships, sinister events, mystical powers, and hard choices, though, and for that reason I much prefer the first two books. Chaz and Sully are more interesting to me than Rya and Philip, although I do love Philip. I liked him in Shades of Dark, but I was a little worried he wouldn’t be able to carry a whole book for me since he’s much more stable and normal than Sully. My concerns were unfounded, though, and I enjoyed reading the sections of the book told from his perspective more than Rya’s. Rya was likable but also very impetuous and I found it harder to relate to her tendency to rush into danger without thinking than Chaz’s tendency to analyze a situation first, although I definitely think it is great that Sinclair does not just write the same characters over and over again.
After Philip and Rya, my favorite character was Captain Folly, whom the ship was named for. When the little girl Hope died, she left behind her pet cat Folly and the ship was only available at a good price if he continued to live on it. Folly ended up being important to the story and I have a real soft spot for cats.
Like the first two books, this novel contains a great balance between romance and adventure. It is a love story (and a predictable one at that), but there is still plenty of action and intrigue. Rya and Philip both love their weapons and neither lacks courage so they manage to get into plenty of treacherous situations. If one is getting tired of reading about characters and relationships, it won’t be long before the pace picks up again.
One complaint I did have was how Rya always thought of Philip as her “Always Forever Dream Hero.” The first time I gagged a little but by the hundredth time this was mentioned, I wanted to puke. (I did have one other BIG complaint. However, to avoid spoilers, I will not discuss it here.)
Hope’s Folly is a fun romantic space opera with a little bit of everything – mystery, adventure, and some likable characters. It is very different from the first two installments in this series, but it is worth reading if you have read Gabriel’s Ghost and Shades of Dark.