After her father was killed in a warg attack, Riley Kincaid was forced to stand on her own two feet in the brutal Wastelands she calls home. She knows how to survive, but when a lapse in judgment leaves her out after dark, Riley realizes she's in trouble. The sun has set, the monsters are out to play, and there's a band of reivers heading straight for her settlement. Riley needs to warn her people, but that's before she runs a handsome stranger down in her jeep. A stranger who might not be a man after all...
Kidnapping her was the worst mistake he ever made.
Dangerous outlaw, Lucius Wade, lives only for revenge. But when he kidnaps Riley in order to lure an old friend into a trap, suddenly the tables are turned. Riley has no intentions of being bait, and she tempts him in ways he hasn't felt for a long time. He's never played the hero, but suddenly a part of him wants to. Even as he knows there's no point.
When dangerous secrets are revealed, and Luc realizes an old enemy is on his trail, he's forced to change his plans. The hunter is suddenly the hunted, and the only allies he has... is a stubborn blonde who thinks there should be more to live for than revenge, and the ex-friend who shoved a knife in his back ten years ago.
Comment: This was the book chosen for a book club I belong to. It was also my first book by this author and I have to say I was positively impressed, to the point I no longer know what to think about some of my preferences in sub genres.
In this book we meet Riley Kincaid, a young woman who lives centuries in the future, where the planet has suffered several catastrophes, meteors and viruses for the most part. Humans now live in small cities or the wastelands, which are basically camps here and there and everyone tries to do their best while staying away from the organized groups (mercenaries), the wargs (people who changed into animals after being clawed by an infected individual) and revenants (zombies).
Riley is one of the leaders in her camp, Heaven, and when the story begins she is looking for something with Jimmy, a teenager from her camp. They hear som weird sounds though, and night is coming which means dangers as well, so they try to leave and somehow they run over a man. When Riley tries to help him, she discovers he is a warg called Lucius Wade. He kidnaps her so she can take him closer to Adam, a former friend who betrayed him. The problem is that although Wade is a warg and should have no redemption or hope, he is still a man...
I really don't like shows like the walking dead because they tend to focus a lot on the negative side of humans when we can't see a solution to out problems except violence and pain and death. I prefer shows where the more acceptable emotions are key.
Obviously this means I always find myself surprised by how much I seem to enjoy these sort of books that show a dystopian reality or a plot featuring catastrophic events and the attempt to be normal by those who survived. I don't like to think people would forget rules and civilization so easily but the survival's instinct would make us act different, wouldn't it? I was as surprised to have enjoyed a similar plot in Rebecca Zanetti's book I've read last year.
The characters are interesting enough, most fit what one expects of a dystopian, but the main couple is well done and some secondary characters as well. I'm sure some of them will feature in future installments as protagonists.
Riley is an interesting character, she has suffered loss and is still sad over some things but she is a likable heroine and several scenes with her seem well done and I ended up rooting for her, so she could do her part to reach the HEA.
However, for me, the real enthusiasm was the hero, Wade. He is a man changed, he now needs to live with the knowledge he is looked at differently and he still has the emotional scars of the moment it all happened. But he is still a human being and the way the talks and acts shows he might have lost total control of his body but he is still a person with feelings and choices. I really liked him.
I was quite happy about the way the romance developed. All other elements aside, of course the romance is what I focused on to make me appreciate everything else.
After several complicated situations, not only plot wise but even emotionally speaking, it was really delightful to see how the romantic aspects of their relationship were useful to make them become stronger people. I know it sounds like a cliché but thy both became better people by being together. Also, it was both sexy and sweet to see them together. The HEA was cute.
The plot does follow most of the expectations one imagines in this sort of story. There are bad guys to overcome, there are challenges to face and win and people to save, but I liked that no one we have come to care about dies and I liked how the negative aspects while dealt with are not the focus, the author isn't trying to use situations on the page to make everything look bleaker or more intense for the reader.
I will read the next book. This means that it was a good read for me, for sure. I feel curious enough to see how other characters, also facing some unbearable choices and pasts will be able to find happiness as well.