A Free Dreamer Review: Bane (Strain #2) by Amelia C. Gormley

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

The weapon that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation. 

Rhys Cooper once thought he was a dead man. Instead, he’s proven immune to the virus that nearly wiped out humanity.

Now the Clean Zone’s scientists want to know why. Summoned for testing, Rhys is about to learn first-hand why his Juggernaut partner, Sergeant Darius Murrell, and the rest of his superhuman comrades in Delta Company don’t trust the uninfected survivors in the Clean Zone–or the remnants of the government that unleashed the epidemic in the first place.

For a decade, Zach Houtman has yearned for his lover, Nico Fernández, but fear of infection has kept them apart. Separately they keep tabs on the last vestiges of the corrupt government, particularly the head of the Clean Zone’s virus research division. Secretary Littlewood seeks to unlock the secrets of the Bane virus. But Nico knows how dangerous Littlewood will be if that ever happens.

Zach and Nico now have the perfect bait to draw Littlewood out: Rhys. But Delta Company isn’t about to let Rhys walk into hell alone. They’ll take Littlewood down together, or not at all. Even if they succeed, however, for Zach and Nico one question remains: can infected and uninfected people ever be together safely?

Bane is the second and final installment in the Strain series. As such, it really doesn’t work as a stand-alone. I would recommend you to read the prequel “Juggernaut” as well. Both couples from book 0.5 and book one are back in “Bane” and I think you really need to get to know all four of them to really enjoy this book.

It’s been years since I read “Strain” but it’s a very memorable book and I absolutely loved it. It’s very, very different. “Bane” is much more mainstream. It’s still dark, but there’s no dubious consent. The sex scenes between Rhys and Darius are fewer and not as explicit as in book one. While I’m glad that Rhys has found his peace and is starting to feel more self-confident, I just kind of missed the spark I remember from book one.

Zach made me really angry at times. I kind of understood why he didn’t want to infect himself with the Alpha strain all those years ago. The whole “it’s God’s will” pissed me off. I thought it was really cruel of him to do this to Nico.

The author definitely knows how to write sex scenes. And while it is far tamer than book one, the sex was still really hot.

Once again, the book was incredibly addicting. I just could not put it down and it really had me emotionally invested. While I did have my issues with Zach, it’s always a good sign when I get so emotional over a character’s choices.

There were so many twists and turns and intrigues and secrets, it really had my head spinning. I really did not expect some of these things. I’m actually quite satisfied with the ending. I often have issues with how books end, but this really worked. It’s not exactly a HEA but it does leave you hopeful.

Overall, “Bane” is a great read. While it’s not quite as good as the first two books, I still really enjoyed it. It’s tamer and more mainstream, but still pretty good. If you liked the first two books, I’m sure you’ll like this one too.

The cover matches the other two in the series perfectly. It’s just as dark and creepy and gorgeous.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book details:

Kindle Edition, 2 edition, 240 pages

Published April 20th 2018 (first published September 19th 2015)

Tour: Curved Horizon by Taylor Brooke (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Curved Horizon

Series: The Camellia Clock Cycle, Book Two

Publisher: Interlude Press

Release Date (Print & Ebook): March 8, 2018

Subgenre:

Romance: LGBT, Contemporary, Science Fiction

Content Warnings: Interlude Press posts content warnings for new books on its web site at interludepress.com/content-warnings

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Book blurb:

Curved Horizon picks up a few weeks after the conclusion of Fortitude Smashed with Daisy Yuen and Chelsea Cavanaugh, whose Camellia Clocks are drawing close to timing out. Navigating the ins-and-outs of love is hard enough as strangers destined to be soul mates and proves even more complicated when Daisy shares dark, ugly secrets that linger in her and Aiden’s pasts.

Meanwhile, Shannon and Aiden continue to explore their own, new relationship. Fall brings them an unforgettable one-year anniversary, but when Shannon suffers a life-threatening accident on the job, Chelsea, Daisy, and Aiden must find a way to let go of the past to make room for their future.

Dive deeper into the world of the Camellia Clock—a world of soulmates, secrets, and the healing power of love.

Exclusive Excerpt :

Three hundred sixty-five days.

It’d been one year: one autumn, one winter, one spring, and one summer. It’d crept in on him in his sleep, stirring Shannon into bolting from his dreams. He sprang up, gripped his knees, and inhaled a shaky breath. It’d been one entire year.

How they both allowed it to slip by without paying any attention was marginally embarrassing, but Shannon wasn’t thinking about that. He dismissed the thoughts spinning in the back of his mind and focused on everything that was right in front of him.

“What’s wrong?” Aiden said, suddenly alert. He reached for Shannon’s wrist and curled his fingers around it. “Bad dream?”

Shannon coughed over a laugh and pawed at his eyes, shaking his head leisurely from side to side. “What’s the date?”

“What?” Aiden spat. He groaned and curled into Shannon’s side, nudging his forehead against the edge of Shannon’s shoulder. “It’s two in the morning; go to sleep.”

“It’s October second. We missed our own anniversary.”Shannon looked at Aiden and found Aiden looking back. “Put your eyebrows down, I’m serious,” Shannon added.
Aiden’s brows dropped, and he lifted onto his elbows, measuring

Shannon with calculating, sharp eyes. On most occasions his inability to sleep made Aiden into one of two things. One, he was a corpse. There was no waking him when he had finally fallen asleep, and if he was awakened, he was only half-alive. Two, he was this, awake as if he’d never been asleep, awake as a shark or a hungry nightmare, awake as an addict. Shannon saw his cheek cave in, sucked between Aiden’s back teeth.

“Yeah,” Shannon said. His accent made everything sound sweeter. “What’re you thinking about?”

“I never considered tonight our anniversary,” Aiden said. Shannon tilted his head and waited. Aiden obviously wasn’t finished talking, but he paused, giving

Shannon a moment to absorb his statement. It wasn’t until it’d been said twice that Shannon realized how odd it was. Anniversary. It had always been a stupid, juvenile thing to him. Anniversaries were for movies and flowers and dinner at a restaurant with candles on the tables. The only anniversaries he’d ever celebrated were with Chelsea. They went to the fanciest Italian place in Milford, which wasn’t very fancy at all, and after dessert pretended they knew what they were doing in the bed of Shannon’s truck for a whole twenty minutes.

This, he realized, was a first of firsts. “Get your keys,” Aiden said. Shannon wasn’t sure what the silence between I never considered tonight our anniversary and get your keys meant, but he imagined it meant something. He didn’t bother trying to figure out what Aiden was getting at or arguing with him, so he asked, “Where are we going?”

“Wherever you want,” Aiden said.

They dressed quickly and clumsily, bouncing off each other as they tugged on their shoes. Aiden pulled on a black beanie and Shannon ran his hands through his hair, attempting to tame it. Shannon was awake, but the world turned slowly enough to be dreamlike. He handed Aiden the keys, slumped into the passenger seat, and ignored his seatbelt. The twilight sensation of being awake and asleep at the same time was something Shannon rarely experienced, but as he watched Aiden from his side of the Jeep Cherokee, he found himself wondering if this was the kind of universe Aiden wandered in: being awake but not fully and asleep but not fully, stepping halfway out of a dream.

Aiden glanced over. “Where to?”

“You choose.”

“Turn on music,” Aiden said, and Shannon did.

Laguna Beach passed by in intervals of palm trees, dark buildings, darker streets, and the darkest ocean. Shannon noticed how alive everything was at night with the wind snapping at the windshield and fog clinging to the shoreline. He’d almost forgot what the dark was like when he was a part of it rather than an outsider trying to look in.

About the author:

After fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures as a special effects makeup artist, Taylor Brooke turned her imagination back to her true love—books. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she’s traveling, hiking or reading. She writes Queer books for teens and adults. She is the author of Fortitude Smashed (Interlude Press ’17) and is represented by Saba Sulaiman at Talcott Notch Literary Services. 

Connect with Taylor Brooke: Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Author Website

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