Novella Review: From the Ashes by Adrien-Luc Sanders

 

 

Title: From the Ashes

Author: Adrien-Luc Sanders

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Sociopath. Killer. Deviant. Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called that and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded countless crimes to build his father’s inhuman empire.

Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford–antisocial graduate researcher, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.

One kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges everything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. But when his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of humans and aberrants alike in Tobias’s hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile deeper, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean–or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?


Review:

I love super-hero stories, so when I saw that Entangled Publishing was releasing some super-hero novellas, I was excited to check them out.  I loved the first one that I read, Playing with Fire by Tamara Morgan, so I dove into From the Ashes with a great deal of anticipation.  I was sucked into the story on the first page, thought there were a few pacing issues in the middle, and enjoyed the ending, so this is another successful read.

Tobias is an aberrant.  He can control electrical currents, and his father, a sociopath, has nurtured his talents and used him in a weapon in his war against humans.  Tobias, as his alter-ego Spark, has done some terrible things.  He has wiped out an entire city for his father’s ambitious dream of ruling the world, and now he longs for a quieter, less destructive life.  A student at UC Berkley, he is researching the DNA sequence that manifests in aberrants.  If the US government learns how to destroy the genome that makes super-humans like him, they will be able to control, and ultimately, wipe them out.  When he is ordered by his father to assassinate a Senator, Tobias has serious soul searching to do.  Does he have to be evil just because he is an aberrant?

I haven’t read a M/M romance in a while, so this was a nice switch up to my normal reading habits.  Tobias makes the mistake of getting to know Sean, one of his professors, a little better than is wise.  Struggling with his feelings of helpless against his father’s domineering control, Tobias is looking for a fling.  He’ll have some fun with Sean, and then put the night behind him.  Their relationship can’t go anywhere; Tobias is a monster, and Sean is a normal, quiet human.  Tobias doesn’t think he is capable of love, and he certainly doesn’t believe that he is deserving of it, so he has never made lasting, meaningful attachments.  His other relationships were at his whim, and he never felt emotionally invested in any of them.

I think I liked Tobias so much because he was so damaged.  He didn’t think he was capable of feelings, but he had a cat that he obviously doted on.  My belief is that if you can love an animal, there is no reason why you can’t take the plunge and love something as complicated as a human.  Tobias’ problem was that his exposure to love and tenderness ended abruptly when he was a child, after his mother was killed.  Suddenly under his father’s control, he was groomed to be his father’s right hand man in his desire to conquer and subdue the human race.  While Tobias was able to put on a good front, he wasn’t actually as committed to his father’s goals as he pretended.  He was more than content to be a graduate research student, but the threat of the aberrants becoming subjugated to normal humans propels him down a path he doesn’t want to take.  His confusing relationship with Sean only manages to complicate matters, because he is afraid his father will kill Sean if he doesn’t tow the line.

The pacing felt a little off in the middle of the book, but otherwise this is a satisfying read, with an action-packed ending that hints at more adventures.  I liked the characters, even Tobias, who considered himself irredeemable.   The world-building seemed a bit light, but I’m hoping for more in the next installment of The Fires of Redemption series.  If you enjoy super-heroes (or villains, as the case may be), and angst, this is a great, short read.

Grade:  B/B-

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Macy Beckett, Author of Sultry with a Twist and Giveaway!

Macy Beckett, author of Sultry With a Twist, dropped by the virtual offices recently for a chat.  She brought along a copy of her new book for one of you to win, too!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Macy Beckett] Author of hot & humorous romance for adults and witty sci-fi for teens. Daydreams excessively and doesn’t eat her veggies. Toaster lover.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Sultry with a Twist?

[Macy Beckett] Sure, I’ll give you the condensed version: A bogus warrant forces June Augustine to return to her tiny Texas hometown for a month of community service…under the supervision of her first love, the devilishly sexy Luke Gallagher.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Macy Beckett] It was a bit unconventional. The characters came to me first. I saw June and Luke’s entire relationship arc unfold before my eyes in the shower one day. All I needed was a reason to get June back in town with Luke—and keep her there—so they could fall in love again. That was the hard part. I brainstormed for weeks, but all my ideas felt too clichéd.

Then I read about a guy who had to travel out of state to settle a ten-year-old traffic ticket. Because so much time had passed, that simple speeding violation had snowballed into a legal nightmare. Inspiration struck, and I decided to use legal action to get June back in Sultry Springs.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe June?

[Macy Beckett] Selfless, brave, kind. She’s the type of person I strive to be…though I sometimes fall short.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Luke would never have in his bedroom?

[Macy Beckett] Well, this may sound strange, but you wouldn’t find furniture in Luke’s bedroom. He flips houses for a living, and he crashes on an air mattress in the home he’s currently renovating. You also wouldn’t spot any designer clothes or fancy cologne—Luke’s a rough-n-tumble guy. Also, you’d rarely find a woman in Luke’s bedroom. Much like his heart, he’s protective of his personal space, so any hookups happen on neutral ground. Can June change that? You’ll have to read and find out. :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Luke had a theme song, what would it be?

[Macy Beckett] I wouldn’t call it a theme song, but “Half of My Heart,” by John Mayer, was popular when I wrote Sultry with a Twist. Every time I heard that song, it made me think of Luke because he wasn’t willing to give his whole heart to June.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Macy Beckett] I wish I knew! My process is pretty organic. I don’t understand where the creativity comes from…I just pray it doesn’t dry up. However, I try to do things that nurture my spirit, as corny as that sounds: take walks, read, dance, laugh. It’s important to refill the well from time to time.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Macy Beckett] 1. My laptop (obviously) 2. A mug of liquid motivation (aka: coffee) 3. “Freedom” (software that blocks me from accessing the sweet, seductive interwebs for an hour or two)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Macy Beckett] That’s hard because I’ve read so many great books lately. I’m going with something a little less known: SECRET KEEPERS, by Mindy Friddle. I hate gardening, (a strong theme in this novel), so I never would have picked it up on my own. Lucky for me, a friend gave me a copy, and I’ve worn it out since then. I love the way the author made me connect so completely with the point of view characters—an elderly widow, a shopaholic, a teenage boy, and an injured landscaper. It’s a simple-but-compelling read.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Macy Beckett] Man, you ask the tough questions, don’t you? Hmm. Looking back, I’d say my love of reading started around age ten, when my dad gave me a copy of THE HOBBIT. I’m a proud sci-fi/fantasy geek, so it was right up my alley.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Macy Beckett] Hahaha! When I’m not writing? You’re funny. I juggle two series, (romance and YA), so when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. Ask my poor, neglected husband if you don’t believe me. But this raises a good point—I need to take a break. Didn’t I just mention the importance of “refilling the well”? I’d love to spend the weekend at a cabin in Hocking Hills, OH, and hike the fall trails. They’re so beautiful this time of year. Any volunteers to watch the kids for me? Anyone? Anyone? :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Macy Beckett] I love hearing from readers! You can drop me a line via my website, and I’m also active on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Website: http://macybeckett.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMacyBeckett

Twitter: http://twitter.com/MacyBeckett

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5142014.Macy_Beckett

Thanks so much for having me today! It was a pleasure. Stay in touch, and happy reading!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

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Author Bio:

Macy Beckett writes hot and humorous romances set in Sultry Springs, Texas: where first loves find second chances. Her debut novel, SULTRY WITH A TWIST, is now available in stores, and two more Sultry Springs romances will follow in 2013.