After escaping from the Hsktskt slave traders Cherijo Torin and her husband Duncan Reever are once again running. They start off with the Jorenians and Cherijo's HouseClan. But her creator/father, Joseph Grey Veil, is still hunting her. He is determined she will help further his studies in creating the perfect Human.
Cherijo and Duncan instead find themselves unwilling guests of a group of human/alien half breeds. They are no longer welcome on Earth, a xenophobic planet. Yet it is the planet of their birth and home. Cherijo is needed for her skills as a doctor. Many of the men in the underground community are active in the current sports fad, shockball. She is brought in to heal their many injuries and hide their alien components so the men can continue to play as "humans".
The leader of the community, Rico, has great animosity against Cherijo. He keeps her with them by threatening and injuring Duncan, almost killing him. She won't go anywhere until he is able to heal and join her. When a vital organ is threatened, they must sneak into Joseph Grey Veil's laboratory for the equipment needed to save Duncan. Now the couple are evading Gray Veil, Rico, and the Fleet captain who has been trying to arrest Cherijo since the end of Beyond Varallan.
Cherijo is dealing with a big personal problem as well. When she miscarries, she realizes that Gray Veil may have adjusted her DNA so she couldn't carry a baby. How does she tell Duncan? Is there any way to change the process within her own body? If they don't get away from Earth, though, it won't matter. They'll either die or she'll be Grey Veil's prisoner the rest of his life.
My praise and enthusiasm for the StarDoc series remains high and intact. Again in Shockball, S.L. Viehl has kept her characters fresh, vital, and intriguing. The sheer menacing madness of both Grey Veil and Rico are eerie, leaving a shudder in the reader's psyche. They are both megalomaniacs with specific visions. If someone (namely Cherijo) doesn't agree with them, they find a way to make that person agree. They both know that one of the best tools to use to threaten is to harm someone that is loved by their goal. Duncan often pays for being with Cherijo in Shockball.
Viehl has pulled in the twists to keep the reader's interest as well as the good writing. There's more to these two self-centered men than is first realized. Cherijo will have a very difficult avoiding them and keeping their wants and needs from polluting her own psyche. The reader has to consider what happens when caught between the rock and the hard place. What do you do when all choices have bad outcomes?
Notice: Non-graphic violence, Suggestive dialogue or situations
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