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Absolved by Marnee Blake

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Magic/Paranormal/ Military/Paramilitary/ Netgalley/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense/ Speculative Fiction/ Syfy/ Syfy Romance/ Urban Fantasy 28th November 2017
Absolved by Marnee BlakeAbsolved by Marnee Blake
Series: Altered #3
Published by Entangled Publishing, LLC: Embrace on December 11th 2017
Pages: 174
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Since a brain-altering drug killed most of Luke Kincaid’s town—including his father—and left him telekinetic, he’s determined to stop the fanatic who stole the drug to create his own super-powered army. That means working with scientist Dr. Beth Jenkins, whose graphic tees and beautiful smile are some of Luke’s biggest distractions.

A science prodigy, Beth works with the FBI and solves the toughest crimes, but she can’t figure out what caused her mother’s early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The drug that ravaged Luke’s town is volatile, and the mortality rate is still high, yet Beth is convinced it holds the key to saving her mother, even if sexy and tortured Luke doesn’t believe it should be adapted for commercial use.

When bodies start to pile up, though, the two loners must decide if the goals that tie them together are greater the fears that would tear them apart.

Plunging into ‘Absolved’ felt like being hurled into the deep end of the pond and swallowing mouthfuls of pond water while trying to stay afloat, despite having read the first 2 books of Marnee Blake’s Altered series. The break between books meant that it was difficult to catch up on (and remember) what had happened during an apocalypse-like situation where a drug kills half the population and infuses the other half with telekinetic/mind-reading superpowers.

What I could figure out early on was that there were baddies to fight—bad guys with the notion that the drug responsible for the fall of the human race can help create a new world order—with a ragtag band of people to fight them, as was the growing push-pull tension between a scientist prodigy and a tortured computer guy trying to atone for his misdeeds woven into the whole story.

A prologue perhaps, or some insertion of context would have made ‘Absolved’ a lot easier to get into especially for first time readers; placing the scene or working out the back story out was an exercise in frustration because it was difficult to get to a point where pieces had to fall into place before I could get lost in the narrative without needing to re-read the first 2 books. That said, though it took a while for me to get into it, to sort out the details of what really happened before I could actually sit back and enjoy the story, ‘Absolved’ by and large, took off as soon as I fought my way through the bits that needed time to fall into place.

Clearly then, this isn’t a standalone, and as a YA/NA-type book, the sexual situations never quite went all the way, so to speak (as with all the books in this series) because the romance took a back seat to the rush to make the ruined world right again. Beth and Luke, like all the other pairings in the rest of the series, become the ‘heroes’ when hit by the drug, in contrast to the few who become villains because of it, but it was a pairing I couldn’t exactly get into.

Apart from the conflict that kept both Luke and Beth on opposing sides of the argument for most of the story, I found myself preferring ‘old’ Beth more before she was hit by the drug somehow—the problematic definition of what it meant to be heroic came into play for me here, though it’s probably nitpicking on my part or my rooting for the underdog—and was vaguely disappointed that she could suddenly achieve what she did and get past Luke’s feelings only when she had super-enhanced senses, which felt almost like a cop-out for the solution to her problems. Would a ‘normal’ person then, not be able to do what she did and help save the world, by this implication? Along with the change, the ‘new’ Beth became someone I couldn’t recognise and was frustrated with when it often seemed to be on Luke to fight that uphill battle to get back into her graces when it was clear he had demons of his own to fight—when she could seem to do no wrong in contrast.

Unfortunately, while I really liked Blake’s 2 previous books, I think ‘Absolved’ fell somewhat flat at all for those reasons above. I just wished I’d liked this one a lot more, but there just wasn’t enough for me to cheer for, not least the characters who went from push-pull to a rushed HEA that was hard to swallow.

Marnee Blake: Syfy-romance writing for YA/NA

Posted in Blog Tour/ Features 5th July 2016
by Marnee Blake

Hi there!

Thank you for having me on the blog today. I’m Marnee Blake, and I write fast-paced, action-packed YA and NA romantic thrillers. The Altered Series is a set of syfy romantic thrillers. The second book in the series, AVENGED, released from Entangled Embrace on June 27th.

Unlike a lot of syfy romance books, my series is contemporary-set. These books don’t take place in space or on a distant planet. They’re set on Earth. They deal with topics of science and technology here. I originally came up with this series after I read an article about something called the Transhumanist movement. Transhumanism is defined as “the belief or theory that the human race can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations, especially by means of science and technology.” Like so much research, one click led to another, and soon I’d fallen down the rabbit hole reading about how some think this is bold and courageous thinking, and how others warned about the possible moral and ethical issues that arise from it.

I got the idea of a doctor who develops a drug to expand mental capabilities. The books rose from there.

I think that syfy allows us, as storytellers, to explore the edges of possibility in our reality. We know that space is vast, for instance, and we are curious about what could be out there. I feel like every year brings new developments in science and technology. Fiction gives us a chance to engage with the possibilities.

As for syfy romance… When you go so close to what could be possible, it can be scary. When you’re reading about other worlds, distant lands, or the distant places that humanity could go in our own backyard, there’s fear of the unknown. Love, though, is universal. Romance celebrates the connections, not the distance. So, when we’re going to the edges of what scares us, knowing there is still love there at the core of our humanity, I think that is soothing. It gives us a safe place while we explore what could be.

Tell me what you love about syfy romance.

Thank you so much for having me today!


I’m delighted to be on Marnee’s blog tour. Read more about Avenged here.

Blog Tour: Avenged by Marnee Blake

Posted in Blog Tour/ Features 5th July 2016

Blog Tour: Avenged by Marnee Blake

Blog Tour: Avenged by Marnee BlakeAvenged (Altered, #2) by Marnee Blake
Published by Entangled: Embrace on June 27th 2016
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

Three terrifying months.
That’s how long Kitty Laughton has been at the mercy of the scientist who experimented on her town, killing over a dozen people and giving the rest of them unique powers. But Kitty doesn’t feel powerful, especially when she learns the crazy man plans to test his research on more unsuspecting people. She refuses to let anyone else die, but trapped with no one to help her she’s out of options…that is until sexy and exasperating Nick Degrassi arrives.
Special-ops soldier Nick blames himself for Kitty’s capture, and he’ll do whatever he can to free the quiet beauty, but close quarters and a shared secret bring an attraction that neither of them expected. With the organization that started it all making mercenaries for hire, Nick and Kitty must save themselves and stop a madman…before it’s too late.
The Altered series is best enjoyed in order.Reading Order:Book #1 AlteredBook #2 Avenged

Avenged

Three terrifying months.

That’s how long Kitty Laughton has been at the mercy of the scientist who experimented on her town, killing over a dozen people and giving the rest of them unique powers. But Kitty doesn’t feel powerful, especially when she learns the crazy man plans to test his research on more unsuspecting people. She refuses to let anyone else die, but trapped with no one to help her she’s out of options…that is until sexy and exasperating Nick Degrassi arrives.

Special-ops soldier Nick blames himself for Kitty’s capture, and he’ll do whatever he can to free the quiet beauty, but close quarters and a shared secret bring an attraction that neither of them expected. With the organization that started it all making mercenaries for hire, Nick and Kitty must save themselves and stop a madman…before it’s too late.

Links
Amazon
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About the Author
Award-winning author and RITA® finalist Marnee Blake used to teach high school students but these days she only has to wrangle her own children. Originally from a small town in Western Pennsylvania, she now battles traffic in southern New Jersey where she lives with her hero husband and their happily-ever-after: two very energetic boys. When she isn’t writing, she can be found refereeing disputes between her children, cooking up something sweet, or hiding from encroaching dust bunnies with a book.

Find Marnee on the web at www.marneeblake.com, on Twitter @marneeblake, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AuthorMarneeBlake/.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads

Excerpt

“You don’t know that. You need to be prepared for anything.”

That had become the mantra over the past three days. Be prepared. Like she’d joined the Boy Scouts without anyone telling her about it.

Prepare for any event. Have an attack ready. Strike as fast and as hard as she could. Fast because speed was her best asset, and hard because she could only count on one opportunity.

She’d asked for his help. He’d reminded her of that over and over. After they’d had their conversation the first day, when he’d explained his reservations about teaching her, he’d thrown himself into her training like a man obsessed.

But not obsessed with her. In fact, since that conversation—after telling her that he wanted more than friends, that he wanted her—he’d been true to his word. He’d been a complete gentleman. He’d been respectful of her personal space, and he’d never spoken of it again, as he’d promised. He’d even reined in his thoughts, for the most part.

His touch had stayed completely platonic, as if they were related or really good buddies. And they’d touched a lot. In fact, they’d spent the last three days wrestling with each other. The more they touched, the more she craved his arms around her.

It was maddening. She’d been the one to draw the line in the sand. Yet, she was the one who wanted to stay in his arms. She was the one who inhaled too deeply when she was pressed against his chest. She was the one who couldn’t stop staring at him.

In that time, she’d only caught something different in him one time. It had been two days ago, the second full day of training. She closed her mind to him when they weren’t practicing, but she needed to hear his thoughts when they were working out so she could learn how to use her power to her advantage.

They’d fallen. He’d gone down on his butt then rolled onto his back, and she’d landed on top of him. His hands had been on her waist. Their faces had been so close she could feel his breath on her forehead. His brain had buzzed with wanting.

It had been an echo of what was coursing through her…the heat, the need to touch him.

They’d frozen like that until he gently but firmly moved her off of him and scrambled to his feet. As he’d moved away from her, she’d see it.

Something like longing.

His jaw tightened, and his brows lowered. Then, it was gone from his mind, replaced by his determination. Always his determination. He drove her on and on, teaching with more patience than she’d ever seen in anyone, forcing whatever was happening between them to the recesses of himself.

But in that moment, she’d wanted to reach for him. She’d had to stop herself from crawling to him. She wanted to wrap her arms around him and place her lips on his perfect mouth.

Review

‘Avenged’ might not make a whole lot of sense if Blake’s first novella ‘Altered’ isn’t read first. Even if it feels as though I’ve been waiting for this book for a very long time, I found my memories about what really happened in ‘Altered’ fuzzy when the ARC of ‘Avenged’ finally dropped into my lap a year later. Thrust straight into the action from the first chapter, we’re told in bursts about what had happened in the previous months or weeks – not quite enough to put the whole picture together – but the full story isn’t quite ever revealed, as though it has been assumed that anyone who begins ‘Avenged’ has already read its prequel. I found myself having to go back and get to know the motley crew once again, which hindered my enjoyment of the story simply because of the prerequisite knowledge I needed to have to fully enjoy this one.

But relished it I did, nonetheless.

The subject matter here itself isn’t given a too much of a spin on the super-soldier and illegitimate enhanced drug testing bit that I find myself completely floored by it. But ‘Avenged’ made me a happy camper for pretty much the same reasons ‘Altered’ did: the sharp clarity of Blake’s prose, the romantic tension amidst the unrelenting action and the all-round decent main characters who aren’t afraid to say what they wanted without the slew of emotional trickery simply because there is really something bigger to fight against in an ongoing arc of a story that grows curvier and longer by the minute.

Kitty and Nick made a believable pair despite what might look like instant love, I appreciated the author’s effort to develop a connection that went beyond the physical, bound as they were by their circumstances. In short, there isn’t a dull moment, even if things sometimes skim the sharp but slippery slopes of believability at times especially when it ends in some way that echoes the shenanigans of any X-men movie over this past decade and more. More than a ‘kids trying to control their new powers’ story, ‘Avenged’ makes me hopeful for what might come after already.

Giveaway

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four-stars

Altered by Marnee Blake

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Contemporary Romance/ Magic/Paranormal/ Military/Paramilitary/ Netgalley/ New Adult/ Reviews/ Romantic Suspense/ Speculative Fiction/ Urban Fantasy/ Young Adult 5th November 2015
Altered by Marnee BlakeAltered by Marnee Blake
Published by Entangled: Embrace on December 28th 2015
Pages: 221
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
four-stars

The sickness came on suddenly and violently. When it was done, waitress Blue Michaels was different in a really strange way. And the entire town of Glory was dead...except for her.
Only that's not exactly true. A handful of people made it, including U.S. Army Specialist Seth Campbell, who was caught in the wrong town at the worst time. He's fierce and protective, and way too good-looking. As much as they need a leader—as much as Blue wants to trust him—there are too many questions and not enough time for answers. Now they are hunted. But what their pursuers don't know is each of them has strange new powers. And they'll use their "gifts" to survive...no matter who stands in their way.

“I was on my way to pick up Specialist Degrassi before heading to training at Fort Bragg. I stopped in Glory, Colorado, for the night and woke up as strong as an ox and as fast as a train.” – Seth Campbell

When a small town gets poisoned because of a rogue scientist’s actions, whose who didn’t succumb to the life-altering changes of the drug find themselves irrevocably changed – with powers that they don’t understand – and targeted by a private security company desperate to erase all evidence of this screw-up. Like a cross between X-men and Heroes, the story is a fast-paced, cinematic adventure of a group of people – whose personal allegiances are yet unclear – on the run while dealing with their own superhuman abilities that seem to have ominous consequences on their physical selves.

Marnee Blake’s skilful, assured writing has a mesmeric quality to it and turns what would be a tried-and-tested plot into an engaging read that is hard to put down. All too often, we’re thrust straight into the thick of a dystopic/post-apocalyptic world as the details slowly flesh out, but this story takes a different and brave path straddling the ‘normal’ world and the world for the ‘altered’ ones, consequently maintaining that connection to the reality as we know it. It all ends abruptly on a cliffhanger without a clear resolution however, but at least it leaves me fairly convinced that Ms. Blake still has a story worth telling.

four-stars
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