Book Review: Strain by Amelia C. Gormley

Strain by Amelia C. GormleyTitle: Strain
Author: Amelia C. Gormley
Genre: Science-Fiction, M/M Romance
Sensuality Rating: Erotic
Source: review copy provided via NetGalley
Published: February 17, 2014 by Riptide Publishing

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.

Reviewed By: J9

In a Nutshell: This isn’t a romance so much as an erotic sci-fi. I was highly uncomfortable with the sex so this wasn’t the book for me.

The Set Up: In this post-apocalyptic world, a virus strain either makes the infected zombies or super-human. When one of the human settlements is attacked, nineteen year old Rhys is one of the two survivors. A super-human military force kills the zombies but not before Rhys has been infected. The leader of the military, Darius, offers Rhys a choice: he can try to be counter infected with the super-human strain of the virus via multiple sex partners or he can be killed when he shows signs of zombie infection. Rhys only has an emotional connection with Darius but in this gritty world survival is more important than feelings.

Why I Read this Book: I like post-apocalyptic sci-fi.

What I Liked: The world building is very good here. It’s a compelling and gritty survivalist world where people scavenge for leftovers like shaving cream and medicine. The people are rugged and brutally honest with their needs, which include sex. They have a somber joy mixed with fatigue at surviving every day so the sexual escapades that permeate this book make sense in context of the world building.

What I Didn’t Like: I’m vanilla. I don’t do D/s sex, power differentials, age differentials or dubious consent. I want romance and relationship development with my sex and that’s just not this book. Yes, Darius and Rhys form a relationship of sorts but it’s not one I’m all that comfortable with. Rhys is an innocent, soft, nineteen year old “boy” (used in both a D/s context and in age); Darius is a forty-three year old who says he’s been sexually active longer than Rhys has been alive. Darius has the key to keeping Rhys alive and all the power. To be fair, Darius acknowledges this complicated power structure but as a reader it all just gave me the willies.

Furthermore, this book is full of BDSM and power games between multiple partners. Readers who are much kinkier than me will adore this well written erotica but I spent the entire book peeking through my fingers at the sexual horror.

IMO: This isn’t the book for my vanilla self and I wouldn’t have read it if the synopsis indicated it was BDSM. Sexually adventurous readers will likely adore this gritty, dirty and erotic novel but that’s not me.

J9’s Rating:
1 Frog

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About J9: Vegan. Avid runner. Android addict. Never without a book in hand. Currently devouring MM romance but reads historial romance and paranormal romance as well. Follow J9 on Twitter.


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