Title ~ Bane: A Strain Novel
Author ~ Amelia C. Gormley
Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing
Published ~ 21st September 2015
Genre ~ Dystopian M/M Romance
The weapon that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation.
Rhys Cooper’s unique immunity to all three strains of the virus that nearly annihilated humanity has brought him the unwanted attention of Clean Zone scientists. They’ve summoned him for testing—ostensibly in the hopes of finding a vaccine—but Rhys’s partner, Darius Murrell, has good reason not to trust any government. He and his comrades in Delta Company were unwitting test subjects for Project Juggernaut, the military experiment that gave them superhuman abilities and unleashed the pandemic. Doubting the government’s intentions, Delta Company refuses to let Rhys go alone.
Fear of infection has kept Zach Houtman and his lover Nico Fernández apart for a decade. They meet rarely, just long enough to coordinate their spying on the head of the government’s virus research division. Secretary Littlewood is a vicious predator, and they suspect he’s trying to acquire the strain of the virus that would make him superhuman. To stop him, they need the perfect bait: Rhys.
For Rhys, helping them might cost him his relationship with Darius—or his life. For Zach and Nico, even if their plan succeeds, they still face the ultimate question: can infected and uninfected people ever live together safely?
Some months ago I was lucky enough to be able to read and review Juggernaut, the first part chronologically though the second to be published in the author’s Strain series. This book provided the background to Strain, which I have also now read, and in this story the threads of narrative in the two books are merged. A word of warning – some series are easy to pick up if you read them out of order but I seriously recommend that you read Strain and Juggernaut, in whichever order is most convenient to you, before embarking on Bane. If you don’t you will be very confused.
This book picks up the narrative approximately two years after the end of Strain and 10 after Juggernaut. Rhys, the fragile hero of Strain has settled into his role as supply officer to Delta Company of the Juggernaut force and lover of Darius their commander. Rhys has grown up a lot, attaining a quiet self-confidence and maturity, though he still can’t keep up with the Juggernaut super-soldiers either on the march or in battle. But he is happy with Darius who is equally happy with him. Then a summons comes from the Clean Zone, a governmental and refugee compound at Colorado Springs, where the medical research team have got the idea that Rhys may be immune to the Bane and Gamma viruses that wiped out most of the population and may therefore be the source of a vaccine. Delta Company are expected to take Rhys there and hand him over, the Jugs unable to enter the compound themselves for fear of the deadly virus they carry. They know they can’t trust the government but Rhys feels that if he could help produce a treatment he must answer the call.
At the government facility Zach, one of the heroes of Juggernaut, would-be minister turned medical orderly and bereft of his lover Nico, involves Rhys in his plans to break the power of a corrupt official who is exploiting the refugees for his own loathsome ends.
Nobody knows who they can trust, nobody is completely honest, not even Rhys with Darius, and so the stage is set for plot, counter-plot and doublecross with lives and grisly deaths on the line.
Gormley has constructed a fascinating world and some all too plausible scenarios of how people might react to the sudden dissolution of their civilisation. Necessary exposition is there but is applied with a light hand. The action scenes are fast and furious, the sex scenes are sometimes brutal [consensually thank goodness], sometimes tender, there are even occasional flashes of humour. Characters from the first two books appear providing links to past plots. Superb secondary characters abound. Tension ebbs and flows as each minor climax is succeeded by a major upheaval.
I enjoyed the whole story arc enormously, and am sorry that the tale is over even though I found the ending both plausible and satisfying. It’s a world I most certainly wouldn’t want to live in but it was great fun to observe.
The Strain Universe
Meet Amelia C. Gormley
Amelia C. Gormley may seem like anyone else. But the truth is she sings in the shower, dances doing laundry, and writes blisteringly hot m/m erotic romance while her son is at school. When she’s not writing in her Pacific Northwest home, Amelia single-handedly juggles her husband, her son, their home, and the obstacles of life by turning into an everyday superhero. And that, she supposes, is just like anyone else.