Early Review: Strain by Amelia C. Gormley

Reviewed by Heather C

18460726Title: Strain
Author: Amelia C. Gormley
The Heroes: Rhys Cooper & Darius Murrell
Genre: M/M Romance, Science Fiction, Post-Apocolyptic
Length: 104,300 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: February 17, 2014
Available at: Riptide Publishing
Add it to your shelf at: GoodreadsBooklikes

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

Rhys Cooper is a dead man. Cut off from the world since childhood, he’s finally exposed to the lethal virus that wiped out most of the human race. Now his only hope for survival is infection by another strain that might provide immunity. But it’s sexually transmitted, and the degradation he feels at submitting to the entire squad of soldiers that rescued him eclipses any potential for pleasure—except with Darius, the squadron’s respected, capable leader.

Sergeant Darius Murrell has seen too much death and too little humanity. He’s spent a decade putting plague victims out of their misery and escorting survivors to a safe haven he can never enjoy. He’d rather help Rhys live than put him down, so when Rhys can’t reconcile himself to doing what’s necessary to survive, Darius is forced to save Rhys in spite of himself.

But with each passing day, it looks less and less likely that Rhys can be saved. And that means that Darius might soon have to put a bullet in the head of the one person in years who reminds him of what it means to be human.

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Review:

Heather can go dark when she wants to!

First, let me give you a little bit of back story on how I came about reading this book.  Months ago, in Atlanta at GRL 2013, I had the opportunity to hear the author read an excerpt from the book (Chapter 3), and before she could even finish reading the excerpt, I was already searching the Riptide website on my phone.  Let me tell you how upset I was when I saw that it wouldn’t be releasing until February 2014…a whole 4 months away!

Second, if you know me well, then you know I usually don’t read much erotica as I prefer loads of sexual tension.  And I certainly DO NOT go for books with tags like sharing and gang bang!!  Ah, but I do have my kinks and dub-con and knife play are a few of them.  I will admit that when I went into this book, I was totally expecting one orgy after the next.  I was wrong!  While it was A LOT of sex, the sex DID have a purpose to the ENTIRE story…erotica with a good plot exists!  This book easily pushed so many of my comfort boundaries…and I didn’t even hesitate!

The Situation:  It’s some point in the near or distant future (I have no idea which); an oopsie in biological warfare has affected Earth’s population, leaving people to die from the Rot, or turning them into mindless, flesh eating revenants once they are infected.  After Rhys Cooper is exposed to a strain of the virus during his unsuccessful attempt to sacrifice himself for the safety of his sister and nephew, he knows he’s going to die.  Former Army Sergeant Darius Murrell, and leader of Delta Company, has one of two options: he can put a bullet through Rhys’s head when he starts showing symptoms…or he can attempt to infect Rhys with the original strain of the virus that might turn him into a super-human Juggernaut like the rest of Darius’s team…and save his life.  And the only known way to transmit the virus without it mutating into something else is through sex…repeated sex with as many partners as possible for up to eight weeks!  Rhys has a decision to make…

The Kinks:  Yeah, this one had a little bit of everything…from cum play to knife play to S/m to public sex to anonymous sex…  I could keep going…  Of course Rhys doesn’t want to die so he agrees to let Delta Company try to infect him.  I figured it was going to be more than just Darius having sex with Rhys, so I was very anxious in the beginning.  What surprised me the most was how considerate and gentle all the other men were with him, they didn’t want Rhys to die and were doing their duty in trying to save him…too bad they didn’t realize that Rhys didn’t have a desire for gentle.  Yeah, a ton of the sex was dubious consent, and Rhys didn’t want it with all the other guys, but he knew his only choices were to fuck or die.  Sometimes, he would even fight against it with Darius…oh, but Darius was able to figure out how to make Rhys respond and even got a bit “creative” to help make Rhys more comfortable.  I did feel that the sex got a little excessive at times, but I loved being able see how it changed from that first night at the monastery ’til the very end…where it moved from something that had to be done, to being something intimately shared between Rhys and Darius.  All along, Darius has enforced his power over Rhys’s sex life, but in turn, Rhys achieves his own power over Darius; bringing softness and hope to a life filled with hardness and death.

“That’s the thing about this life.  There’s fuck-all to be hopeful about, so we take what good we can out of it.  We fight to stay alive and we fuck to feel alive because there’s nothing else left.” ~ Xolani

The Characters:  I loved so many of the characters here.  Not only Rhys and Darius, of course, but especially Xolani…the kick-ass female who was second in command of Darius’s team…and Rhys’s number one supporter.  And also Toby and Joe; damn I would love to see a spinoff of their story, although it might be a bit too “painful” for me to read.  And I can’t forget Kaleo.  I hated Jacob, dammit, although I don’t think he was as fully developed as some of the other characters.  I mean I hated him, I really did, but didn’t fear him like Rhys did, and I wanted to be afraid.

The Ending:  What I was expecting to happen totally happened.

My Rating: I am soooooooo very close to giving this book the full 5 stars; it was amazingly creative and the medical pieces were so well done.  The characters where gritty and I know they will stick with me for a while.  The sex was hot in a very dirty and kinky way.  There was even a bit of romance…the dark and all-consuming kind.  And I freakin’ cried!  BUT I have a few little things holding me back…  The biggest reason being that I feel a bit like I don’t know Darius; like I know all about Rhys and his life and the hardships he faced, but I only know the surface of what Darius has shared.  Darius needs to fucking share!  More of himself, and maybe a little less of Rhys (joking, the sharing was hot when Darius figured out how to make it kinky instead of degrading).  Ah, but back to Darius…he is not a young guy and I feel there is more about himself he could have revealed.  And then Rhys’s past was addressed over and over again to the point it started to feel repetitive.  Don’t misunderstand, I adored both characters immensely, but I feel the focus wasn’t quite balanced between the two.

I feel Rhys and Darius’s story could be complete even though its a HFN; but I would still love to have more. Give.Me.More!

Overall Impression: I Loved It!

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*

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Categories: 4.5 Star Ratings, Book Review, Heather C's Reviews, LGBT, Published in 2014 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “Early Review: Strain by Amelia C. Gormley

  1. And people call me the Tagging Queen. You put me to shame!! Lol. Great review 🙂

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