Format Read: Ebook bought on Riptide
Number of Pages: 258 pages
Release Date: October 8th 2012
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Formats Available: Ebook, Paperback
Purchasing Info: Amazon | B&N | Book Depository US | Book Depository (UK) | Author’s Website | Publisher’s Website | Goodreads
Police teniente Alex Rukow has spent his life trapped on Santuario, his people’s isolated home-slash-prison-island. They’ve been living in poverty under the tyrannical regime of their own elite familias for the last two-hundred years, ever since their generation ship landed on the planet and found it already populated by earlier Earth settlers, the Skanians, who banished them to the inhospitable south.
Increasingly shamed by the decisions of their ancestors, the Skanians seek to open their borders. But dissent exists on both sides, and in the midst of this explosive political situation, a dead body appears on the island.
Bengt, a Skanian investigator, is shipped to Santuario to lead the murder investigation—which, he quickly realizes, the local teniente wants nothing to do with. As far as Bengt is concerned, things can’t get worse than the brutal climate, his own memories, and a growing attraction to a partner who will barely say two words to him. But then he and Alex run afoul of the local familias, and the problems with their investigation and their budding relationship seem like nothing compared to just getting out of this whole mess alive.
I’m always worried when I try a new author. I can count on my fingers the number of times I blindly trusted it would be worth my time and/or that I wouldn’t end up slowly rocking, curled up in a ball. As it is, I trusted Riptide Publishing to publish a book of quality. Suffice it to say I’m glad I did! Santuario is the first book of a new series by G.B Gordon and this is their debut novel. See it was risky on many levels! 😉
If you want to enjoy Santuario, I think you just need to trust that the author will get you where you need to be. Don’t try to make sense of it all from the first page. It’s a new world, new rules and even if you feel a bit lost, it’ll all make sense. At least that’s how I felt about it. I think one of the best thing about this book is that the author isn’t trying to dump all the world-building on you in the first chapter. This is often a problem with 1st books in series set in a different world. All you need to know is that there are 2 different civilizations, the Skanians who arrived first on the planet, and the people from Santuario, who arrived afterward and who have been secluded ever since to the Island now called Santuario . Most of the time I felt like I was in Bengt shoes. When he arrives on Santuario to investigate a murder he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. We get to understand how Santuario works, pieces by pieces much like him. This is really something I loved. I don’t like feeling like I’m the only one not getting it, but here I could recognize myself in Bengt. He was just as lost as I was 😉 We really get to understand both civilizations through the eyes of Bengt and Alex. See my point? Just trust the author!
The Skanians Vs the people from Santuario is pretty much the North vs the South. Santuario is ruled by the Familias, while they give the illusion of a real government to the outside world, they actually do what they want. Their island, their rules. It’s a very brutal world they live in.
Alex is part of the Santuarian police but since the Familias rule the country and enforce their own ‘Justice’ , he’s never had before to investigate a murder. The Skanians send Bengt to investigate with Alex and that’s when the fun begins. The 2 of them couldn’t be more different. Bengt grew up in a world where friendship and family is what builds a person. No one would ever consider him different for being Gay. Alex on the other hand, has always been on his own. His brutal childhood and the violent world he lives him forced him to be self-reliant. He built a wall around him to protect himself. No one on Santuario would even think it possible to be openly Gay, that would be the fastest way to be killed.
Alex never even considered that there’s a very easy explanation as to why he doesn’t feel whole when he’s with a woman. Homophobia (or at least the fear linked to this concept) has been ingrained in his mind from birth. He is a very strong person. Child abuse didn’t prevent him from being a strong-headed man. He never really gives up. Even when he knows he’ll end up beaten to a pulp. I really admire him.
Bengt is a piece of work. This gorgeous giant is not the most patient person in the world. I loved that he was often THIS close to loosing it. Many times he just balls his fists trying not to punch Alex. He is very honest and open about his feelings. I really loved that about him, he tried to talk things out to understand what is going on. You can see how this could be a clash of cultures with Alex. Alex avoids confrontation, he either flees or hides behind a wall of silence. There’s a quote that really touched me. This is something Alex finally conceded to Bengt and it felt like a victory :
I can’t repair my wall as fast as you can tear it down.
I admit I was fascinated by the investigation but I didn’t really care who was the killer. It was mostly interesting because we finally got to see all the players in the game. Alex’s world is a complicated one. His relationship with Luis is a fucked up one. I wanted to hate Luis (well I did hate him) but he ended up being more complex than meets the eyes. I should also mention that I’ve recently developed an addiction to the Big violent Russian thug type so I couldn’t help but like Leonid. Yes if you’ve read the book you must be thinking that I’m crazy. It’s okay, I know I am 😉
I realize this review is getting very long but I really loved this story. It was highly original and I felt transported to a different world. You can really experience how claustrophobic it feels to live on Santuario. There’s no escaping the Familias and their enforcers.
Now I need to explain why it wasn’t a 5 stars read for me. The ending. Seriously, if this book had been a stand-alone novel the rating would have gone down a whole star. Why? Because I didn’t care for the ending, it felt rushed and incomplete. But since this is the start of a series I’m very excited to see what happen next. Yes we got some kind of ending but this budding relationship really is just that…budding! I need mooooooooore. I actually understand why it went this way. I would probably have complained if the 2 characters has rushed into something together. Alex needs time to understand himself and what he wants. Anyway I will stop now because I could go on forever 😉
Santuario is a fascinating story. It’s a great start for a new series, highly original and very well written, it’s something you have to experience for yourself. I will be impatiently awaiting the next book. G.B. Gordon is an author I will definitely follow closely.
I give Santuario 4.5 Stars