For former hacker, Sami Steel secrets are a way of life and the best part about playing soldier is anything involving medic Tace Justice, especially their late night sparring sessions. Since he recovered from Scorpius, the smoldering Texas cowboy’s different. He’s harder and more predatory. Tace was done wondering if strength, speed and cunning would be the only changes, he wondered about Sami.
Sami knew she couldn’t keep acting indifferent toward Tace to her friend, his latest bedmate and the world when he set all her parts fluttering. They couldn’t happen and after last night’s session she wanted to tell him everything. Their sparring also left Tace rattled so he jumped at an assignment away from camp. Unaware of their changed status, Jax assigned Sami as Tace’s back-up.
This busy outing teased out several meaty threads including secret alliances, resolving three overlong pieces, uncovering a traitor, smacking own major enemies in stellar skirmishes and gaining an ally. The tired ‘we’re marooned on an island so let’s fall in love’ vibe made favorites Tace and Sami’s romance fall a bit flat in places for my taste before finding its footing in this satisfying read.
After reading the series prequel, I was excited to get to this read and Ms. Zanetti doesn’t disappoint. Months after a virulent spore from a rock confounded the vaunted CDC, it’s grown into an epidemic. The world is in a post apocalyptic state, people are scrambling to stay alive and safety is a vague memory. It’s more dangerous for Dr. Lynne Harmony, a scientist working on a cure and the first virus survivor.
Escaping from the DC-CDC where Rippers (survivors that became insane and obsessed) ruled, Lynne’s reached Los Angeles where she hopes to find information on the cure. Meanwhile, POTUS has become obsessed with Lynne and is intent on tracking her down. Engaging the entire population in his search, POTUS offers a bounty and a rumor putting Lynne’s life in danger.
What used to be neighborhoods and cities are now gang territories of varying brutalities. Lynne’s goal is to reach Vanguard, a gang rumored to be led by a strong ex-soldier defending the weak and especially women. Lynne knows she’ll need protection as she searches for notes and works on a cure to stay out of POTUS’s clutches. Enter ex-SEAL Jax Mercury.
Jax protects and strongly leads a rag-tag group struggling to survive. Unfortunately, Jax’ ex-gang is a neighbor of Jax’ Vanguard group and its leader covets Jax, Lynne and whatever else Jax has. Agreeing to protect and help Lynne, Jax tries not to let his growing affection for the little brunette cloud his judgment as he weighs POTUS attempts to gain Jax’ allegiance and what is best for his people.
Lynne and Jax had plenty of chemistry and gave new meaning to the phrase power couple. The supporting characters and those in different threads did their piece to keep the pace of this exciting read as several layers were neatly added. The highlights of the prequel are here but the prequel itself does add depth and good back-stories for Lynne’s involvement, POTUS and the Brigade.
POTUS, Bret Atherton, is seething over losing former FBI profiler, Vivienne ‘Vinnie’ Wellington and more furious Lynne Harmony escaped again. Bret’s obsession, ingenuity and resources didn’t show profit in his alliance with Twenty against Jax and the Vanguard but helps put new schemes in play to strike at the heart of Vanguard and return the women under his thumb.
Vinnie fell hard for Raze Shadow when he rescued her and isn’t exactly like other girls but insists she isn’t the psychic POTUS believes her to be. As a Scorpius survivor Vinnie has flashes of insight that she doesn’t always understand but is fitting into Vanguard and building a new life there. Not only is POTUS plotting her return, one of the local gangs is determined to have her delivered to them as well.
Ex-Special Forces soldier, Raze’s secrets are wearing on him as he becomes closer to people and the life that is Vanguard; consumed by Vinnie; works to find a way to keep a vicious rival gang from blackmailing him and a close personal call. He has no choice but to trust and open up to the people around him. Another player has entered the game with an end game our heroes can’t figure out easily.
Definitely not a sophomore slump but this outing didn’t seem as fresh though the characters were just as vivid as the initial outing. For my taste, Vinnie annoyed and was the weak link of the read. Also, there was chemistry and smexy between Raze and Vinnie but they seemed to lack heat. Neither these minor quibbles nor a cliffhanger ending can stop me from panting for Tace’s star turn.