|If youíd rather have outlandish plotlines and exuberant side effects
than a good story and great dialogue, you might want to take a glance
at Parallel Heat. It really wasnít for me. Given the choice between convincing world-building and a solid script, Iíd rather have the latter any day. Both are lacking in the second volume of Deirdre
Knightís series about extraterrestrials fighting to protect the human
Thea Haven was once engaged to the exiled king of the Refarians, an
alien race now established on earth and committed to protecting
humanity from the invasion of the parasitic Antousians (yes, that
would be yet another species). Instead, following a sequence of
events narrated in the first book, the king married some human. Which
makes Thea a very dissatisfied virgin warrior. On the prowl in human
bars for some way to relieve her frustration, she meets Marco McKinley.
Marco claims to be a Madjin, or part of an elite Refarian group
dedicated to protecting the king and the royal family (if you donít
get this, donít worry; the novel repeats so many times that by the
time you finish the first third you will be reciting it by heart).
Thea isnít sure whether to believe him or not, but she feels there is
something between them. Itís not just the overriding magnetic
attraction; they also seem to have met in some alternate universe or
timeline where their bonds lead to betrayal. Staying on course is
just a tad more serious than it would be for most couples (and if you
donít get that, Marco will be glad to explain it again).
All this might be interesting if Thea and Marco actually had
personalities and a real relationship. Unfortunately, there really
isnít much more to them than mutual fascination and some hocus-pocus
about empathy and true essences. Whatís more, Marco has all kinds of
reasons why they shouldnít get together. Which means we are locked
into a loop that is replayed over and over and over again. Thea and
Marco give into their attraction and start feeling each other up.
Then Marco realizes he really shouldnít be doing this, and pushes her
away. A couple of scenes later, theyíre at it again.
After several such incidents, Thea says, ďIím onto your game, Marco.
Youíre all about, ĎCome close, Iíll push you away.íĒ She got that
part right. I wish she would get the rest too and just walk away.
When the novel manages to break-away from Marcoís game, it is
dedicated to resolving issues from the previous novel and to setting
things up for the next one. In fact, I suspect that much of the
mystery surrounding Marcoís motivations and the alternate timelines,
not to mention the Refariansí presence on earth, might have been
clearer had I begun at the beginning of the series. Still, Iím not
sure my lack of interest can be chalked up to my irresponsible
reading habits. While I admit it can be difficult to make sense of a
story if you donít start where you are supposed to, this isnít the
first time Iíve jumped in at the middle. I havenít always been so
disappointed. A good novelist knows how to help the reader make sense
of things without giving everything away. Knight fails miserably.
Readers of Parallel Attraction might disagree and want to find out what happened. But after forcing myself to finish this book, I have
no interest in uncovering the early history of the Refarians and in
discovering how their future struggles will fare.