on January 26, 2016
Genres: Dystopia, Romantic Suspense
Series: The Scorpius Syndrome #1
Published by Zebra
Copy for review provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.Goodreads
With nothing but rumors to lead her, Lynn Harmony has trekked across a nightmare landscape to find one man—a mysterious, damaged legend who protects the weak and leads the strong. He’s more than muscle and firepower—and in post-plague L.A., he’s her only hope. As the one woman who could cure the disease, Lynne is the single most volatile—and vulnerable—creature in this new and ruthless world. But face to face with Jax Mercury…
Danger has never looked quite so delicious…
In this exciting and action packed first story of the Scorpius Syndrome series, we are quickly introduced to our heroine Lynne. She’s on the run from government agents, mercenaries, and anyone else with a grudge against her – and there are a lot of them. She’s considered the ‘Typhoid Mary’ of her time, a woman who is blamed for a devastating bacterial infection that has run rampant over the entire planet, killing off an untold number. Victims it doesn’t kill are left in a few possible states 1) normal but with enhanced intelligence 2) with damage to the centers of the brain responsible for emotions thus rendering people into sociopathic serial killers; or 3) in the worst case (worse even than the death that would have been preferred), leaving people in a zombie like cannibalistic state. Lynne, who worked for the Centers for Disease Control when the outbreak occurred, survived the ferocious illness in the best way possible, still with all her faculties and enhanced intelligence. Because of this, she was experimented on, her blood used to try to find a cure. As a consequence she has a blue heart that is visible through her chest, making her easy to identify. Her only hope is to get to Los Angeles where the site of the now partially destroyed Myriad lab may have the answers to a possible cure, or at least a way to stave off the worst part of the infection. But to get there, she’s going to have to go through Jax Mercury’s territory. He’s the one in charge (albeit reluctantly) of a small group of survivors in this post apocalyptic nightmare. He’s also the only person who might be able to protect her from those wanting her dead – if it doesn’t come at the hand of some of his own followers. Wary but with a common goal to find a cure, Jax and Lynne join forces. In a world where death stalks daily, they find some solace with each other in a sexual relationship that soon turns to more. Can Lynne find the clues to solve the puzzle before it’s too late?
Holy moley, did this book pack a punch! It’s a gripping and intense story, full of action and drama and a page turner from the very start, with no boring spots in between . Just when you think you know where the story is going, wham, you get broadsided into another whole new direction. I loved it! I’ll be honest, I’m really not into the post-apocalyptic zombie type supernatural story, so while the more gruesome survivors of the Scorpius bacterium turn into what are called Rippers (a zombie equivalent), I was okay with that because they weren’t beings brought back from the dead. There was a believable logic in having their minds be destroyed by the bacterium. It’s a highly contagious one too – contact with bodily fluids is all that’s required to get it and it works fast, so a bite from a carrier is enough to kill you or turn you into something else. Because of this, those who’ve survived the disease are very reluctant to reveal that they’ve had it (if they haven’t been turned into killers and appear normal), as the fear of the disease and its consequences is enough for them to be outcast or killed. The people who remain live a scavenging existence full of danger, and the only protection is to be part of a group like Jax runs, with barriers around his territory of city blocks that are guarded constantly to keep the Rippers and rival gangs out, and groups of teenagers sent out to loot any local establishments still containing usable goods. I really enjoyed the world building in this story -it was well written and very descriptive. But just like a zombie show (the Walking Dead comes to mind), or an episode of Game of Thrones, there is no point to getting attached to any one character (the exception, because this is a romance, being Lynne and Jax who have their moments but ultimately get to their happy ending). Everyone else is fair game, and there were characters I thought would make prime candidates for future stories in the series whose fortunes did not fair well.
Jax and Lynne have an interesting relationship. He believes her when she says she’s there to look for a cure, and that unlike the propaganda being spread about her, she doesn’t carry a more virile strain of the disease. And because he’s also been infected and survived (one of the lucky ones), he doesn’t have to worry about getting the disease again. The result is a physical, intimate relationship between them. And whoo boy, in a situation like this when any day could be your last, you might as well up the ante and have awesome sex, and they do. They both say it’s just physical, the chance to put the reality of their lives away for a short period of time while they connect with each other. But it soon comes to be more than that, both of them caring for each other. And that’s dangerous because caring for someone can mean making decisions based from the heart and not from the head. I really liked the two of them together, and how for precious moments Jax was able to give Lynne the safe and secure feeling she desperately needed to help her keep her equilibrium. There are various enemy factions that come into play, ones that will continue to play a role in the next story in the series. I’m excited to find out what will happen next and I confess that I devoured the teaser chapter for book 2 at the end of the book. 5 stars for this exciting post-apocalyptic thriller!