| || |
Title: From the Ashes
Author: Adrien-Luc Sanders
May Contain Spoilers
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?
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.
Review copy provided by publisher