Review: Deadly Lover by Charlee Allden

deadly lover by charlee alldenFormat read: ebook
Formats available: ebook
Genre: science fiction romance
Length: 310 pages
Publisher: self-published
Date Released: April 17, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Love can get you killed.

Security contractor Lily Rowan is clawing her way back to normalcy after a training mission gone horrifically wrong left her physically and emotionally broken. She’s returned to the city she grew up in, but not to hide from her nightmares, to face them. Living alongside the Ormney—genetically altered refugees who’ve settled in The Zone—is a daily reminder of the Ormney trainee who nearly took her life. Lily knew it would be tough, but she couldn’t have known coming home would drop her straight into a madman’s deadly game.

Someone is drugging Ormney men and turning them into mindless killers, reenacting the attack Lily barely survived. To stop the killing spree and put her own demons behind her, Lily must overcome her fear and work with Jolaj, a refugee Law Keeper with dangerous secrets and hidden motives of his own.

Jolaj long ago dedicated his life to his people, risking everything to find them a new home. But working with Lily could prove to be the most difficult task he’s ever faced. Despite the Council’s decree making relationships with the outsiders forbidden, he’s finding it hard to keep the courageous Lily at a distance.

With the fragile peace between their people on the line, Lily and Jolaj must stop the horrific crimes before their growing attraction makes them the killer’s next targets.

In the near future, the world is forever altered when the existence of the Ormney is made known. But two things remain the same—serial killers still walk among us and murder is still as ugly and terrifying as ever.

My Review:

The setting of Deadly Lover reminds me a lot of Sonya Clark’s Trancehack (reviewed here). Both are set in a near future where people who can practice “magic” are locked up in ghettos to keep they away from the rest of the population. When I say “magic”, I’m using the Arthur C. Clarke definition of “any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from” and not spellcasting.

There’s also a resemblance to the near-future setting of J.D. Robb’s In Death series. Deadly Lover takes place on an Earth that is ahead of us but not terribly far distant in time. The two visions of the future are different in the details, but the worlds aren’t that much different from our own.

In Deadly Lover, that difference has been caused by the introduction of the Ormney people into our midst. The Ormney are humanoid but not quite human – they have a native ability to travel similarly to a Star Trek transporter, but without using a machine. It’s an inborn talent, and some of them are better at it than others. It is also the way that the Ormney traveled from their dying planet to ours. It’s not clear whether their planet was merely far away in space, or in a different space-time continuum altogether.

There’s a certain amount of handwavium on this point, but it doesn’t get in the way of the story.

Also, just for added references, the place that the Ormney go to while they are unsyncing and resyncing feels a lot like the “between’ in Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. Without either the dragons or the rapey tropes that my friend Cass hates so much.

The Ormney have only been on Earth for 20 years, and interspecies relationships are still very much in the building stage. There is a lot of suspicion and fear on both sides, but not yet much real understanding.

Mostly because the Ormney are keeping a shit-ton of critical secrets.

Lily Rowan has already been exposed to a few too many of those secrets. In her job as a civilian security consultant working for a very secretive para-military research company, Lily was nearly killed when a training exercise went seriously pear-shaped and her Ormney teammate was poisoned and went bat-shit crazy.

Kiq went crazy because he was exposed to a toxin that works one way on humans, and an entirely different way on Ormney. A secret that was known to his people but not revealed until it was much too late.

And then it gets out, as important and dangerous secrets inevitably do.

The moment that Agent Lily Rowan is cleared for duty, she finds herself in the middle of a crime in progress – yet another Ormney is exhibiting the same symptoms as her training partner, and she is forced to kill him to protect civilians from his murderous rampage.

No good deed goes unpunished. Lily finds herself assigned to investigate the incident, and the series of dead bodies, both human and Ormney, that follows in its wake. Too many elements of the case mess with Lily’s peace of mind. The police detective assigned to the case is her estranged cousin. The chief human diplomat for Ormney-human relations is her ex-fiance, and the chief investigator from the Ormney side is a man that Lily finds all too compelling.

But Ormney have no interest in human females. Or is that another half-truth that the Ormney have allowed humans to believe? And is that the secret behind the rash of murders, or is it something even more deadly?

Escape Rating B+: This is a compelling story. I loved the way that the secrets were revealed slowly and carefully, because there are so damn many of them and they are at the root of this case.

However, at heart this is a romantic suspense story. What Lily has to do is investigate a series of murders, and figure out who the serial killer is, with the help of other officers who just so happen to be family.

Along the way she falls in love with her investigating partner, a man who should be off limits but isn’t. Jolaj, the Ormney Law Keeper who works with Lily, is not just a fascinating character but everything we learn about the Ormney culture adds depth to him and his side of this story.

Some of the more interesting aspects of the story were on Jolaj’ side of the equation – how much to keep secret, how much his people should adapt and assimilate, how much they should keep themselves separate, apart and isolated. Jolaj finds himself caught in the middle.

But it would have been relatively easy to remove the science fictional elements of this story and still have an interesting tale of romantic suspense. Especially when we discover that the villain is a peculiarly human kind of murderer – a psychopath who has been practicing his technique for every bit as long as the Ormney have been on Earth. They aren’t his real target, they are just an excuse for more and bloodier killing.

I will confess that I was lured by the red herring, and didn’t figure out who the real killer was until the protagonists did. Being along for the ride kept me flipping pages fast until the very end.

sci fi romance quarterlyOriginally published at Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly


***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Falling from the Light by Regan Summers + Giveaway

falling from the light by regan summersFormat read: ebook provided by the author
Formats available: ebook
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Series: Night Runner, #3
Length: 278 pages
Publisher: self-published
Date Released: November 24, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo

Phoenix, AZ

All Sydney Kildare wants is a minute in the slow lane, some time to decide where she’s going with her vampire lover, Malcolm Kelly. But after sitting out the last battle, the powerful Master Bronson is giving orders again, and he isn’t above blackmailing his former courier to get what he wants.

With Mal sent to track a vicious killer, Syd is forced to infiltrate a pharmaceutical company responsible for a drug that turns vampires into real monsters. She’s unprepared and alone, but fiercely determined. If her investigation doesn’t satisfy the Master, Malcolm will pay the price. A wrong turn throws her into the middle of a vampire power play. Caught between twisting forces, with their freedom at stake, she’ll have to decide what’s more important: love, power or revenge. But choosing what feels right might turn out all wrong.

My Review:

The story in Falling from the Light is definitely a reminder that the vampires that have become the heroes of so much of urban fantasy and paranormal romance draw their origins from the horror side of the house.

In this book, very bad vampires do bad things to bad people, and also do bad things to good people. Even good vampires spend so much energy posturing for the nastier members of their group that they spray a LOT of collateral damage among their human and vampire companions.

Also this is a “things are always darkest just before they turn completely black” kind of story. Sydney gets so far down that “bottom looks like up”. In other words, this is the story of how Sydney falls from the light into nearly permanent darkness, and then has to claw her way back. after a trauma that guarantees she’ll never be quite the same.

She’ll be okay, because she’s incredibly tough, but she won’t be the same. The story ends with Sydney and her vampire lover Mal hoping that they can escape the crap that they’ve gotten into for good. Of course, somebody has to die to make that happen. I will leave the “who” for you to find out.

The Night Runner series takes place in a world where the vampires have not just come out of the coffin, but where they seem to have their fangs into a whole lot of the criminal organizations and quite a few private companies. (When you live forever, you have lots of time to compound interest on your investments)

dont bite the messenger by regan summersSydney, and Malcolm, (sometimes it’s the other way around) are pawns in a world-wide vampire power struggle. At first, In Don’t Bite the Messenger (reviewed here) it seems as though the more nasty vamps were using Sydney to get to the vamp she worked for. In Running in the Dark (reviewed here) the more nasty vamps were using Sydney to get to Malcolm.

In Falling from the Light, both sets of vampires (let’s call them more nasty and less nasty) are using Sydney to get to Malcolm and Malcolm to get to Sydney. And since Sydney is the poor squishy human, she’s collateral damage no matter whose agenda is currently in play.

Including, unfortunately for their relationship, Malcolm’s agenda. He pretends to be worse than he is to protect her from the true villains, but nothing quite works like they planned.

The dark at the end of Sydney’s fall from the light is very dark indeed. It takes a supreme sacrifice, blind faith, and one hell of a lot of luck to reach the light at the end of this tunnel. But it’s worth it.

Escape Rating B-: It’s Sydney’s character that makes this series, which makes it very difficult (read that as gut-wrenching) when Sydney finds herself a captive of the nasty and insane vamps. What happens to her is very rough.

She’s also subjected to constant reminders that she and even Malcolm are just pawns in other vampire games, and that the vampires mostly consider her as talking food at worst or an intelligent pet at best. She has no rights, she’s physically outclassed, and her life is so worthless to most vampires that they have no comprehension of her thoughts or feelings. There are no laws that protect her except the law of the jungle, and vampires are excellent at maneuvering that to their own advantage.

Sydney only has one ace in the hole; she is immune to vampire glamour, but no one knows why. At least not until the boss vampire reveals it to her in this book, just in time for her to use those talents to save the day. Or at least the epilog.

But Sydney spends a lot of the first ⅔ of the story being beaten and beaten down, and while it was good to see her finally emerge into the light at the end, it was VERY tough to watch her suffer. The world of the Night Runners isn’t the same without Sydney’s snark, so it was great to see her recover it at the end.


Falling from the Light Button 300 x 225

Regan is giving away 4 ebook copies of Falling from the Light in the winners’ choice of format

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: C791 by Eve Langlais

C791 by Eve LanglaisFormat read: ebook purchased from Amazon
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Genre: science fiction romance
Series: Cyborgs: More than Machines, #1
Length: 146 pages
Publisher: Self-published
Date Released: January 20, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Machines aren’t supposed to feel, but this cyborg can’t help falling in love.

Assigned as a specimen collector for a captured cyborg, Chloe is intrigued by the machine disguised as a man. Kidnapped during his daring escape, he shows her that despite the chip in his brain, his humanity is not completely lost.

Formerly known as unit X109GI, Joe is on a quest to discover his origin. While he doesn’t find the answers he’s looking for, he does discover that affection and lust aren’t just for humans. But when it comes to a battle between logic and love, which side will the cybernetic organism–once a man–choose?

Evaluating his feelings will have to wait though because the military isn’t done with Joe. But their threats against him pale in comparison before the shocking discovery of project C791, the revelation of which stuns the rebel cyborgs–and ignites a fury for vengeance.

It takes the touch of the right woman to remind this cyborg of his humanity.

My Review:

Two of the things I love about Eve Langlais’ books are her snarkier than snark dialog (which usually makes me laugh) and that her heroines are not cookie-cutter Barbie size 2’s. Even in a science fictional type story like C791, her heroines always feel more real because they aren’t supposedly perfect, just perfect for the hero.

C791 is the first book in her Cyborgs series, so it needs to both introduce the world she has created and fulfill Langlais’ trademark of being one hot love story. It works on both counts.

There have been lots of ways for futuristic stories to develop cyborgs, but it’s usually done by either converting a human with the addition of a few cybernetic parts (think Six Million Dollar Man) or by bringing an injured person back from the brink of death (or after) by taking away their previous identity when they are completely reprogrammed (think Robocop). In the latter situation, the military is almost always involved in some skullduggery.

The cyborgs in this series were created by the military, and they seem to have started with unwilling participants and then reprogrammed and brainwashed them. They know that they were once men, but not who they were.

However, like the Cylons in BSG, the cyborgs rebel. Not for any mysterious motives, but simply because the military decides to exterminate them all. A few of them have broken their programming, and don’t merely refuse to walk out the airlock, but reprogram their brethren to turn on their former “masters”.

I keep using words like “men” and “brethren” not because I’m using “men” as the universal word for “people”, but because as far as anyone knows, there are no female cyborgs. Of course, not everything that “everyone knows” is always the truth. The military has lied about absolutely everything involved with the cyborgs.

The cyborgs are hunting the galaxy for those involved with the program. Not just for revenge, but primarily for information. They don’t know how they were created, and they can’t reproduce biologically. (Like Data, they are fully functional, but they’re all shooting blanks)

Just as the cyborgs are creating their own culture, their leadership is all too aware that they are a dying race. And that’s where Joe’s story begins. He’s on a mission to find some of that information, and has allowed himself to be captured so that he can infiltrate the systems in this one particular lab while the military thinks they are torturing him. (How this works is very cool).

But as part of their testing, the military bring in a lab technician to take “samples”. Chloe is slightly clumsy and not the willowy type that is considered beautiful, but she is one of very few women on the military base. Her compassion for the cyborg as well as her own sweet nature break through the impassive shell that Joe has formed around himself.
So even though his wooing redefines rough (the cyborgs are not all that socially ept) his desire to protect Chloe, and simply his unrelenting desire for him, wins Chloe’s heart. Chloe lets herself be swept along, even though she doesn’t believe that Joe can return all of her feelings.

Then her secret is revealed, and she’s not sure she can survive all the negative feelings that she has engendered among the entire cyborg colony. Or if she is worth loving at all.

Escape Rating B+: If you are looking for a short and very sexy sci-fi romance to sweep you away, then C791 just might fill the bill. Or any other craving that happens to be in need of filling.

Just like all of Eve Langlais’ books, this one is absolutely fry your circuits hot. But there is also a very cool sci-fi story mingled with the sex.

The story of the cyborg rebellion, how it started and where they are in the development of their own society, would make for good SF with or without the romance. There have been other series where the military has been overcome or outwitted by people they have made other than human and enslaved (Lora Leigh’s Breeds series comes to mind), but the worldbuilding that creates these more than humans is off to a great start.

Chloe, the heroine, often seems like a bit too much of a victim, but when all is revealed, her reasoning, and her courage in the face of overwhelming circumstances, shines through. Joe, as the leader of the cyborgs, makes a terrific hero. He’s not just brave and self-sacrificing, but he’s also endearingly awkward as he falls in love. He’s the ultimate geek hero.

So far, there are four more books in this series, and I can’t wait to scoop up each and every yummy bite.

SFRQ-button-150x100This review originally appeared in Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.