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

Standard

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)

A Free Dreamer Review: Strain (Strain #1) by Amelia C. Gormley

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In a world with little hope and no rules, the only thing they have to lose is themselves.

Rhys Cooper is a dead man. He’s spent years hiding from the virus that wiped out most of the human race, but an act of futile heroism has him counting down his remaining days. The timely arrival of superhuman soldiers offers some feeble hope–but only if Rhys can reconcile himself to doing what is necessary to take advantage of it.

Sergeant Darius Murrell has seen too much death and too little tenderness. His job is seeking out the infected to put them out of their misery, or sending the uninfected survivors to a safe haven where he and his fellow Juggernaut troops will never be welcomed. Rhys’s situation is different, though. Not only is there an improbable chance that Darius won’t have to put a bullet in Rhys’s head, but he has somehow managed to get under Darius’s skin.

The virus Rhys must infect himself with in order to survive is sexually transmitted, and optimizing his chance of exposure requires him to submit as often as possible to Darius–and the other soldiers. Though the boundaries of morality have shifted in this harsh new world, Darius and Rhys question whether their humanity is too high a price to pay for Rhys’s survival.

A warning before we begin: “Strain” is definitely not for the faint of heart. Aside from lots of explicit BDSM sex with dubious consent and big age gaps, you also find lots of explicit violence and gore and some scenes that would be considered rape under different circumstances.

At first I wasn’t sure if I would like this book. A disease that can only be cured by lots and lots of sex – that sounds a bit like an awfully cheap excuse for heaps and heaps of mindless sex, doesn’t it? Well, “Strain” was a big surprise in that regard. Sure, there’s heaps and heaps of sex. But the author did a great job at explaining everything and once you start, it all makes perfect sense. The whole thing is a clever part of world building that seemed very logical to me – not that I know all that much about medicine.

The world building was excellent and full of interesting details. It’s easy to get caught in this dark, dark future. Since the events of “Strain” aren’t too far into the future, you get a really good explanation for how we went from the world we know now to the world Amelia Gormley created. I’m a sucker for good world building and the author easily satisfied my curiosity.

Rhys’ reactions seemed very genuine to me. While he’s always been attracted to men, he’s never had the chance to explore his sexuality. He spent most of his life isolated from the rest of the world and years of homophobia from the extremely religious preacher and his power hungry son don’t exactly help him feel confident in his sexuality. So when he is forced to lose his virginity to a much older man that only has sex with him out of a sense of duty, he’s less than thrilled. But it’s his only chance at survival, so he doesn’t exactly have a choice. Rhys always remained true to himself; he didn’t just suddenly turn into a mindless sex maniac. The author painted a very convincing picture of his inner struggle and I found myself liking the boy from the start.

Darius was just as interesting. The whole thing isn’t exactly easy on him either. He tends to enjoy very kinky sex, but how could he do that to such a clueless boy? Not to mention he could easily hurt Rhys with his superior strength. He ends up feeling guilty because he just can’t keep his dominant side in check around the boy. And actually forming a real emotional connection terrifies him – if their wild plan doesn’t work out, he’ll be the one that will have to end his misery with a bullet.

The side characters were very well developed as well, with unique backstories and interesting behaviour.

Once Rhys actually started to accept his kinky side, the sex scenes got really hot. The author was very creative in that regard, coming up with lots of interesting little games.

The ending was a little predictable. My suspicions started around the middle of the book, but that didn’t mean I didn’t enjoy every single page till the end. There was plenty of other plot to keep you occupied.

“Strain” is different. It’s dark, it’s kinky, there are some real concerns about consent and it is utterly brilliant and extremely addicting. If you’re in the mood for something dark and kinky with a brilliant plot, then go for it. Just beware of potential triggers.

The cover fits the story perfectly. It’s kind of creepy and makes you curious about the world.

Book details: Kindle Edition, 2. edition, 322 pages

Published April 20th 2018 first published February 15th 2014)

A Free Dreamer Review: Juggernaut (Strain #0.5) by Amelia Gormley

Standard

Rating: 5 stars out of 5

They helped destroy the world. Now they have to survive the new one.

For rentboy Nico Fernández, it’s a simple job: seduce a presidential advisor to help cement approval to launch Project Juggernaut. He’s done similar work for General Logan McClosky before, and manipulating people for his favorite client beats the hell out of being trafficked for slave wages in some corporate brothel.

Zach Houtman feels called to work with the most vulnerable outcasts of society. But his father, the Reverend Maurice Houtman, insists that Zach work for him instead as he runs for Senate. Zach reluctantly agrees, but is horrified to see his father leave behind Christ’s mandate of love and mercy to preach malicious zealotry and violence instead. Zach even starts to suspect his father is working with fundamentalist terrorists.

When Project Juggernaut accidentally unleashes a deadly plague that claims billions of lives, Nico and Zach are thrown together, each bearing a burden of guilt. With only each other for safety and solace, they must make their way through a new world, one where the handful of people left alive are willing to do anything—and kill anyone—to survive.

It’s no secret that I have a thing for dark, creepy and apocalyptic books. Juggernaut promised all that and more. And I’m happy to say that I was not disappointed in the least. In fact, I absolutely loved this book. It was brilliant.

I liked Nico from the start. He’s not the kind of poor, helpless rentboy in desperate need of a saviour we usually see in this genre. He’s in the business out of his own free will and he knows how to defend himself when the need arises.

At first, I was a bit concerned about whether I’d like Zach. I’m an atheist and I tend to dislike very religious characters in my books. I just find it very hard to relate to somebody whose main purpose in life seems to be in their faith. But Zach was a pleasant surprise. While his faith is very important to him, it’s not his defining character trait. He never judges people based on their faith or lack thereof. He never tries to play missionary. He just quietly tries to help in whichever way he can. If somebody finds solace in praying together, he’s happy to do so. If somebody doesn’t want to pray, then that’s fine too. I really liked his approach to religion.

Many m/m books that deal with religion in one way or another tend to portray it negatively: Bigots, zealots and generally unpleasant people. “Juggernaut” had both the negative example (Zach’s father is a real jerk) and positively (Zach’s approach is very tolerant). It was very interesting to see the conflict between Zach and his father and their different ideas of what being a good Christian means. It made for an interesting subplot.

The main plot focuses on survival. At times, it gets pretty violent and a bit gory. The tone is very dark. This is not a happy story, at all. The story is incredibly addicting and it was next to impossible to put the book down. There’s lots of action, but the romance is rather slow to unfold. Personally, I liked that. And it fit the circumstances. Zach led a very sheltered life so far and there’s just so much else going on in the lives of our MCs, there just isn’t all that much time for them to develop really romantic feelings for each other.

Nico is a Latino and he’s very conscious of what that means. So racism and inequality added another interesting layer to the plot.

The ending is rather open, but again, that just fit the whole story. I really want to know what happens next. In Nico’s and Zach’s lives and in the entire world.

Long story short, “Juggernaut” is utterly brilliant. If you like dark, apocalyptic stories with a bit of romance thrown in, then this book is a must.

I really like the cover. It’s delightfully dark and violent and fits the mood of the book perfectly.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 2 edition, 320 pages
Published April 20th 2018 (first published August 8th 2015)
Original TitleJuggernaut, A Strain Novel
ASINB07CJQBVFF
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesStrain 0.5
CharactersNico Fernández, Zach Houtman

Series Blitz and Giveaway – Strain Series by Amelia Gormley

Standard

 

Buy Links


Juggernaut (Book #0.5)
Strain (Book #1)
Bane (Book #2)


Juggernaut 


They helped destroy the world. Now they have to survive the new one.

Nico Fernández has a charmed life. Working as a high-end escort in his mother’s agency beats the hell out of being trafficked for slave wages in some corporate brothel. And no one needs to know about his occasional side jobs, like seducing political and military dignitaries, and “nudging” them with mind-altering agents to swing their votes to favor his longest-standing client.

Zach Houtman’s life should be charmed, but isn’t. His father, the Reverend Maurice Houtman, in pursuit of political aspirations, insists Zach act as his advisor rather than indulging in his true calling: ministering to the most vulnerable outcasts of society. Politics, however, gradually turn Zach’s father away from Christ and toward malicious zealotry, and Zach discovers his campaign is courting violent fundamentalists.

When one of Nico’s “special jobs” results in military approval for a weaponized virus that mutates, unleashing a deadly plague to claim billions of lives, Nico and Zach are thrown together. Each burdened by terrible guilt for their unwitting roles in the calamity, they find safety and solace in each other. But the new world is a dangerous, violent place, where the handful of survivors are willing to do anything, and kill anyone, to get by.

Strain
 

In a world with little hope and no rules, the only thing they have to lose is themselves.

Rhys Cooper is a dead man. He’s spent years hiding from the virus that wiped out most of the human race, but an act of futile heroism has him counting down his remaining days. The timely arrival of superhuman soldiers offers some feeble hope–but only if Rhys can reconcile himself to doing what is necessary to take advantage of it.

Sergeant Darius Murrell has seen too much death and too little tenderness. His job is seeking out the infected to put them out of their misery, or sending the uninfected survivors to a safe haven where he and his fellow Juggernaut troops will never be welcomed. Rhys’s situation is different, though. Not only is there an improbable chance that Darius won’t have to put a bullet in Rhys’s head, but he has somehow managed to get under Darius’s skin.

The virus Rhys must infect himself with in order to survive is sexually transmitted, and optimizing his chance of exposure requires him to submit as often as possible to Darius–and the other soldiers. Though the boundaries of morality have shifted in this harsh new world, Darius and Rhys question whether their humanity is too high a price to pay for Rhys’s survival.

 
Bane
 

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?

Amelia C. Gormley published her first short story in the school newspaper in the 4thgrade, and since then has suffered the persistent delusion that enabling other people to hear the voices in her head might be a worthwhile endeavor. She’s even convinced her hapless spouse that it could be a lucrative one as well, especially when coupled with her real-life interest in angst, kink, social justice issues, and pretty men.

When her husband and son aren’t interacting with the back of her head as she stares at the computer, they rely on her to feed them, maintain their domicile, and keep some semblance of order in their lives (all very, very bad ideas—they really should know better by now.) She can also be found playing video games and ranting on Tumblr, seeing as how she’s one of those horrid social justice warriors out to destroy free speech, gaming, geek culture, and everything else that’s fun everywhere.

You can contact Amelia on Twitter, Facebook, GoodReads

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions