Review: Forsaken Protector by Nana Malone

Forsaken Protector is more superhero romance than paranormal romance, with a little bit (maybe a lot) of science fiction by way of genetic manipulation thrown in for very good measure. And it so works.

Gentech Labs has been shut down for a year when Forsaken Protector begins. (For that story, get Reluctant Protector. It’s good and it’s free!) But the young men and women that Peter Reeser used in his genetic experiments have been altered for life, against their wills and without their permission. They just have to live with the powerful, unpredictable and sometimes awful results.

Symone Jackson received one of the more awful results. Enhanced strength and speed, the ability to heal herself, and one nasty side-effect. Anyone she touches gets an electric shock. A potentially lethal electric jolt. Sort of like one of the X-Men, Storm, but with way less control over her powers. Symone can’t touch anyone without barriers. No hugs, no kisses, no lovers. She can’t lose control. Ever.

Symone is being watched. Garrett Hunter has a mission to capture the computer hacker/terrorist Symone Jackson. Only problem is that none of his target’s behavior matches that of a terrorist. She works at a youth center, counseling teens to stay off the streets, she feeds stray cats, she goes to the library. But when she stops a gang of street-toughs from assaulting a girl, Garrett knows for certain he’s been lied to. Terrorists don’t stop would-be rapists. And no one else besides his unit is supposed to have the same kind of powers that he has. Powers that he’s just watched Symone demonstrate in no uncertain terms.

Among his powers, Garrett is an empath. He hates liars. And his mission just went totally pear-shaped.

Garrett knows about the genetic experimentation. He went to Symcore Industries and asked to be part of a new military program. His career in the military was ending, and not by his choice; he was in the beginning stages of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. The “super soldier” program didn’t just cure him; it made him stronger, faster, and gave him X-Men-type powers like empathy. But he’d been told that his unit was the first group in the experiment. Now he knew something was off. He just wondered how much.

And Symcore had his kid brother, Michael. Their family has a history of the disease. Garrett went into the program, not just to save himself, but also in the hope that Symcore could find a cure for Michael before the disease got him, too. But Garrett knows that if there is one lie, there are usually more. He has to talk with Symone, and find out if anything he was told is the truth.

And as soon as they try to communicate. all hell break loose. He knows she’s telling the truth. He can feel it. And Symone knows that he’s been altered, just like she has. And that the experiments are still going on.

And one more thing. Whatever form the power has taken in Garrett, Symone can touch him. All over. And isn’t that a complication she didn’t need when a whole set of super-soldiers is chasing after her.

Except now she has one on her side. If she can bring herself to trust him. If she can afford to let herself care.

And if Garrett’s former buddies don’t get them both killed before they can get to safety. If there is any safety left.

Escape Rating B+: Think of Nana Malone’s Protectors series as the X-Men with romance instead of philosophy, and you’ve got a good picture. Or maybe Lora Leigh’s Breed series, substituting superpowers for shapeshifting. Or mix well and stir.

But definitely those two things tossed together to make a delicious (and hot and steamy) story. The genetic experiment gets superpowers, and the kids were unwilling lab rats, and tortured. That’s from Reluctant Protector. Peter Reeser was a psychopath/sociopath, a couple of other ‘paths, but brilliant.

Anytime you have a military contractor looking to make super-soldiers, something always gets out of control, and that’s where Symcore comes in. Garrett signs up willingly, but it doesn’t end there. And that whole “need to know” covers a lot of sins. Once he starts asking questions, he gets burned.

There’s a bit of the “fated mate” trope hinted at. I’m not sure whether they are, or it just feels like it. Whether anyone from the program could have helped Symone figure out how to control her powers, or whether it had to be Garrett. Maybe we’ll find out in later stories.

Overall, both books in the series have been tremendous fun.

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