Saturday, February 8, 2014

ARC Review: Strain by Amelia C. Gormley

From the 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 confer 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. Which means that soon Darius might have to put a bullet in the head of the one person in years who reminds him of what it means to be human.

Heather's rating:

Well that was something different!

While I like me some kinky sex, I don't like dub-con or non-con, I don't usually like the darker reads, and I'm certainly more of a fan of monogamous relationships than menage or partner-sharing. With all of that, I was expecting to have some issue with the sex content of this book. However, that ended up being my favorite part of the story. Huh. What I ended up having issues with was the the characters themselves. Who've guessed it!?

I'll start by talking about what I liked. When I say that I don't like dub-con or non-con, I mean that I don't find anything sexy about rape or people who commit acts of rape. However, this book really wasn't like that. Rhys, the MC, contracted a fatal virus from the Revs (aka zombie-like creatures) in an attempt to save his sister and nephew. When he is rescued, he finds out that his only chance of survival is to contract another virus that may counteract the Rev virus. The second virus (alpha strain) is only transmitted through sex and so in order to save him, they have to have lots and lots of sex with him (oh yeah, baby!). Now, Rhys agrees completely and each of the men that has the Alpha strain are sweet and caring when they come to have sex with him. When Rhys complains and barely complies, I would hardly call it non-con. It is hard to explain, but it didn't come across as malicious or unwilling, if that helps.

This book is pretty kinky though and I loved that about it. I particularly loved Joe and Tony and their kinks. There was also a Dom-Sub-y kind of relationship between Rhys and Darius, which I also enjoyed. I thought that the sex was really hot and I liked the orgy scenes and all of the kink play. What can I say, I think getting your freak on is hot!

Aside from the sex, I also really liked the world-building. It was simple but it made complete sense and I could see something like what happened in the book happening in real life. It wasn't too far out there. I thought that Amelia Gormley did a killer job with that aspect of the story.

My main issue is the character of Rhys himself. He would die, DIE, without getting the help from his rescuers and the solution to his infection is sex. Okay, I get that he doesn't want to have sex with a lot of people, but please, Rhys, quit your complaining! If I contracted a fatal virus that sex could cure, I would be having sex with everyone willing to give it to me, with my husband's blessing! I was really tired of Rhys moping that it wasn't "special" or "meaningful"- I wanted to smack him, really I did. Though he got marginally better towards the end, I never really understood Rhys in any depth. I also thought that Darius was a bit one-dimensional as well. I felt like, aside from his sexual preferences, I didn't really get to know him as a person. So much of the book was focused on sex that I missed some real character development.

All in all, I liked this story but I felt a little let down. It was a gritty, dark, interesting read but I wish I got a bit more out of it.

**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

 Preorder at Riptide (expected release date = February 17th)

Thanks for reading my review!!

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