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Both danger and sex are inescapable in the Amber Zone.
Jaci Harmon was born a Sapphire, but after she’s summoned to receive her final designation, the testing reveals she carries a gene slated for eradication. Within a day, she’s sterilized and dumped in the Amber Zone, where the damaged are corralled away from the rest of New Atlanta. Scared and alone, Jaci would rather die than face her future as an Amber.
Born in the Amber Zone, Xander Dimos is a product of a lifetime spent under the oppression of the Repopulation Laws. Decades of suffering have taught the Ambers to make the zone a place where touch, sex, and unconditional acceptance ease the pain of their fate. Jaci has a lot to learn about her new home, and it’s Xander’s responsibility to guide her through the differences and the dangers safely.
With the simmering undercurrents of sexual chemistry growing between them, and in the midst of discovering the Gov’s true motives, Jaci and Xander must overcome his secret and accept their love as undeniable…even if the time allotted to share it is short.
Warning: This title is intended for readers over the age of 18 as it contains explicit sex scenes and/or situations (including BDSM, light bondage, anal play, sex toys, and f/f/m and m/f/m menage) and adult language, and may be considered offensive to some readers.
“Let me go.” Jaci shot him an acid glare she hoped would burn and eat at him like he was doused with drain cleaner. She was mad and she had to stay mad at him, or she’d never be strong enough to do this. It would also help immensely if he was angry at her too. Today, she wouldn’t be able to survive the nurturing, protective man she loved.
She was a mere second away from tears when she turned away from him so he couldn’t see her face and headed for the door.
With a long stride Xander pinned her between his body and the door. “No, you’re going to sit over there and listen to me.” His voice was low, dangerous and right next to her ear.
With her hands still cuffed behind her back, the stray thought that they must be dangerously close to touching parts of him she’d never touched before made an unscheduled and unwanted appearance in her mind.
Then, as if he were psychic, he took a step back, grabbed her cuffs and led her into a chair. “You are going to listen to me.”
“Why? You want to make excuses for the necessary lies? The sex that wasn’t sex? The woman in the hall?” she spat.
Xander paced past her chair, eyes flaring, jaw muscle working, then stood silent for a long minute.
“Where have you been?” he asked her calmly.
“None of your damn business,” she hissed back.
“It is my business. I’m supposed to be protecting you.” He watched her as she took the time to inhale slowly, calming herself, and pulling it together before she spoke.
“Protecting me?” She snorted. “You stupid ass.” She was calmer now, except for a slight quaver in her voice that betrayed the devastating explosion of feelings lurking beneath the surface. “You hurt me more than any psycho that’s out there. You pretended to be my friend, made me think I would be okay here. When I was at the most vulnerable and painful point in my entire life, you hurt me, Xander. You should have told me. You should have told me you have a girlfriend. You should have told me you and Jordan were nothing but my temporary bodyguards, not my friends.” She cleared her throat and looked down at the table in front of her. “You knew I was falling in love with you and you took advantage of that.”
Review:There's a lot of great stuff going on in this book, along with some things I wasn't crazy about. Time to elaborate!
First and foremost, the setting and the premise are superb. Ms. Ryan's post-apocalyptic USA is detailed, developed, and well within the realm of believability. The world-building alone is enough reason to pick up this book. The concept of the people cast to the bottom rungs of society banding together to make their lives as fulfilling as possible is appealing (and not unlike the beginning of The Hunger Games, which I love). These people have been dealt a crappy hand, but they're not going to let it get them down.
Main character Jaci was extremely well-written. You feel for her, you shake your fist at all the trauma she's been forced to endure, and you root for her to be successful. Everything about her rang true, from the stages of her grief to her reactions to everything that's thrown at her. She comes across as strong and capable, all while maintaining a certain delicate air.
Male lead Xander fell a little flat for me, unfortunately. Part of it could have been due to Jaci being portrayed so well, but I think what turned me off to him was that it seemed like he didn't fall in love with Jaci for who she was, but rather what she was. To bolster this point, according to my Kindle, it's not until the 49% point where Xander actually stops to consider what Jaci might have been like in her old life before tragedy struck and he acknowledges who she was before he met her. It felt to me that he was falling in love with more of an idea than an actual person, and that seems like shaky ground for a lasting relationship.
The part that bugged me the most, though, was that the men are supposed to take care of the women because...men are men and women are women. Yeah. This is my own personal preference, I'm sure, and regular readers of this blog know about my feelings towards stereotypical gender roles. I couldn't help but cringe a little each time this arrangement was discussed and there was a reference made to the men and "their females".
Overall, this was an enjoyable read, and if you're into dystopian settings and love that defies the odds, definitely pick this one up! Though some parts left me a little lukewarm, Jaci's character and the way the plot picks up in the final third of the book make this a solid 4-star.
(Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)
About the Author:
Sylvia lives the life of a run-of-the-mill wife, mother, and professional in Midwest Suburbia, USA. She reads voraciously and loves to lose herself and fall head over heels for the alpha males in her favorite novels.
When she gets the chance to shed the prim and proper persona of average wife and mother, her secret identity, Sylvia Ryan, emerges. This alter ego strives to write original ideas in extraordinary settings for her readers to remember long after the book has been read. Her dream is to transform her racy thoughts and naughty nature into tangible works of erotic fantasy for others’ secret identities to enjoy.
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