Series: Metahuman Files #1
Publication date: February 19, 2017
Length: 433 pages
Reviewed by Michael
A Marine with honor.
After surviving a horrific chemical attack that turned him into a metahuman, Captain Jamie Callahan got a second lease on life. For three years he’s been working for the Metahuman Defense Force and leading Alpha Team—all against the wishes of his family. The job requires his full dedication, so it’s no surprise Jamie doesn’t have time for a relationship. An enticing one-night stand with a gorgeous stranger is all it takes to show Jamie exactly what he’s been missing. When a mission to take down a terrorist cell brings that same stranger back into his world, Jamie’s life gets complicated.
A soldier with secrets.
Staff Sergeant Kyle Brannigan was only looking to relieve some stress after a long mission. He didn’t know the hot guy he picked up at a bar was the leader of the MDF’s top field team. When Kyle and his partner get seconded to Alpha Team to help fight a terrorist threat, he has to balance his desire for Jamie against his duty to keep his secrets safe. That gets harder and harder to do amidst regulations both are tempted to break.
Two men trying to survive.
Giving into passion could cost both their careers. Abiding by the rules will only result in heartache. An attack on MDF headquarters brings with it a choice Jamie and Kyle can’t escape—duty, or love?
Series: Metahuman Files #2
Publication date: May 22, 2017
Length: 461 pages
Reviewed by Michael
Truth and lies.
Captain Jamie Callahan knows the Metahuman Defense Force frowns on fraternization. For once in his life, he’s breaking all the rules. Having Staff Sergeant Kyle Brannigan on his team and in his bed is worth the risk of being found out. When a mission comes down requiring Alpha Team to go undercover in order to infiltrate a criminal alliance, Jamie knows it won’t be easy. Putting his family’s name on the line is nothing compared to the role the MDF wants him to play—that of a billionaire’s son, discharged from the military, with a lover on his arm, looking to make his own shady business deals.
Dirty little secret.
Kyle knows the only way to be with Jamie is to hide their relationship from their superiors. Waking up to Jamie at home is more important than being together in public, or so Kyle thought, until he comes face to face with what he’s been missing. Pretending to be a couple on paper for the sake of the mission thrusts Kyle into a world of incredible wealth and a social status he’s not sure he belongs in, but he’ll do anything to stay by Jamie’s side.
Play the game to win.
Surrounded by the enemy, Jamie and Kyle need to trust each other now more than ever. Their covers—and the life they’re trying to build together—depend on it.
IN THE WRECKAGE
I wasn't quite sure what to expect of this book when I started. As a huge fan of super-hero comics going back farther than I care to remember, I began with a certain amount of trepidation. I want my heroes to be heroes, and my villains to be villains and clear distinctions between the two. Call me old school, that’s fine. Throw in the military aspect, and you never know what you’re going to get.
Set over two hundred and fifty years into the future where global warming is no longer an uncertainty, but a reality. The planet’s topography has changed, forcing changes within the geo-political structure. Old alliances still exist, yet wars flourish over everything from contested land (of which there’s less of) to resources, to the actual creation or destruction of metahumans.
The book centers around a team of military operatives with superhuman abilities, such as super-strength, telepathy, or the projection of force fields. Each member gained their ability after being exposed to a chemical agent called Splice. When exposed, most people die painful deaths. However, an incredibly small percentage have their “junk DNA” rewritten, thereby, granting super-human abilities.
Jamie Callahan is the leader of the group known as Alpha Team, and, after a particularly bad dinner with his Senator father, he goes to a bar where he ultimately meets Kyle. What follows is part love story, part mystery, part big screen summer super-hero action movie.
From the beginning, you are thrust into a firefight in the streets of Chicago between Alpha Team and a group of known as Sons of Adam. While in most cases opening with a scene like this would be a fantastic way to get the reader instantly involved in the book, here it gets somewhat confusing. Each team member has a codename, and yet as the action proceeds, the narrative flip-flops between the use of code names and real names. Because of this, sometimes you’re not sure who’s doing what.
The other part of the problem of a large cast and limited space is that most of the characters end up as nothing more than super-powered window dressing. Some relationships are explored in great detail; Jamie and Kyle (of course), Jamie and his Second-in-Command Katie, and Kyle and his adoptive brother Alexei. The rest of the dozen or so characters serve as either weaponry or interchangeable villains. There is an index at the back of the book which helps with the military lingo, but nary character.
Individual character issues aside, the relationships that are developed are done quite nicely. Honestly, my favorite is Kyle and Alexei. There’s a bond between them that, despite their obvious differences, they would go through Hell and back for each other. And have.
The world these people live in is meticulously fleshed out, which creates an incredible sense of realism The action is nicely choreographed and graphic, which is fitting for the military setting. There are surprises, twists that you don’t see coming unless you’re really paying attention.
As a point of history, when the original Star Trek aired, it’s purpose was to show that prejudice and bigotry was a thing of the past. Different races and ethnicities worked side by side which, for the time that it came out, was a novel and revolutionary concept. While I was reading this, I couldn’t help but feel something similar. Centuries in the future, you have two men, both of whom are in the military, acting as a couple, and no one on the team bats an eye.
This is the type of future I would like to see.
IN THE RUINS
In the Ruins is the second book of Metahuman Files. It’s best if you read “In the Wreckage” before this one, which is also somewhat frustrating. The first four chapters seem designed to be an introduction to the series concepts and characters, more for new readers coming into the series with this book as opposed to the first. With a book this size, that’s a high page count for a reintroduction to the characters and the world they inhabit.
This book takes place roughly six months after the first. Jaimie and Kyle are now living together and the team knows. But, because fraternization is frowned upon, and technically Jaimie is Kyle’s superior, that fact must be kept secret. It’s the pressure of maintaining that secret that partially informs his decision to take the latest mission.
As with the first book, the world they inhabit is fully realized to the most minute detail. How the author imagined what a future London would look like after the effects of global climate change took hold, is completely beyond me. I have to say, it’s impressive.
Several new characters are added to the mix, including Jaimie’s younger sister, Leah. It’s she who vocalizes something that bothered me in the first book. Simply put, Jaimie is an honorable man who is willing to lie to his superiors to have Kyle live with him, and is willing to throw away his career if caught. It’s this dichotomy that actually helps to humanize Jaimie. I think that all of us would like to think we would be capable of risking it all to be with the one we love, even if we haven’t uttered those three little words yet.
Sean and Liam are good additions to an already large cast. Personally, I would like to see some side stories that showcase individual team members. While introducing new characters helps to keep everything fresh, some of the team members have yet to be fleshed out. Unlike the first book, character information is included in the index at the back of the book, and this helps somewhat.
Like the first in the series, the action has a summer blockbuster feel to it. This book feels as if you’re watching a classic James Bond movie, but with super-powers instead of gadgets.
All in all, this has a solid HFN ending, even if some questions and plot points have yet to be resolved. Clearly, this is intended to be the second chapter in a much longer story.
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