In the Pacific Northwest, where life hurries to keep pace with technology, a re-animated bride named Josie struggles to escape her creator and to find her identity in the half-erased circuitry of her mind and body. Assassin Bane Connor just wants to get the girl to the Zombie Underground and receive his payoff—a mental reset that will erase his memories as well as his guilt. But an attack by a rival faction derails his rescue, and the wide-eyed female whose circuitry requires a husband tears at his hardened heart and ignites desire like he’s never known. Acting as Josie’s spouse-substitute is tougher than Bane expected. The newborn stein needs touch to live, and wanting her is a complication he doesn’t need. To make matters worse, she sees into the darkest recesses of his mind. The last thing a killer wants is for his lover to read his thoughts, but if Josie can love him the way he’s programmed, perhaps Bane can find a way to heal his past.
My Thoughts: This is the first title I’ve read of Ms. Harris’ssses’ (how do you do that correctly, anyway?). Let me start over. The author, Daisy Harris, is new to me. I stopped reading “romantica” a while back, because, well, everything started blending together in a haze of posteriors, shifters, threesomes and paper-thin plots. So when my flux capacitor randomly chose Lust After Death (which I wish would have been titled the much cooler but less titilating Zombie Underground) for review, I initially groaned (just a tiny, tiny groan). Then I saw nods to Zombieland in the description and was a little mollified. It wasn’t a wolf thing or a vampire thing and I’m not over zombies yet. Might never be over them. But then, I’ve been editing Rusty Fischer’s young adult zombie titles, so I’m in some picky mood when it comes to the undead. It had better be good. And it was. Or is. You know what I mean.
So, let me get this out of the way. Daisy Harris can write, for sure. I think she can write better than this title, in fact. That’s a weird thing to say in a review, but there’s a bit of formulaic romance novella thing going on here that works (trust me, I’ve used it several times), but that formula also puts the author in a box. I think this writer has the chops to do a really wonky fascinating, go-ahead and throw the baby out with the bathwater and make her a zombie while you’re at it kind of title. In other words, despite the sex and romance and incredible creativity of this title, I think the author can write bigger and better than this, and my bet is that she will in the future.
Zombie Underground—whoops, I meant Lust After Death—is incredibly creative. The book has a bit of a Jason Bourne plot, and I would have liked a hero more worthy of the heroine. One of only two things I didn’t like about this book. Bane (yes, the hero is named Bane Connor—shorthand for “alpha male” of the Han Solo variety) is okay, he’s “yummy” and all that, and he does come around (nyuck nyuck nyuck) at the end. I especially love the last “honey, I’m home” scene. But he keeps calling Josie “babe.” Babe this and babe that. It made him cheesy to me. “Hey! Don’t tear my shirt, babe.” Eeew.
Counter that with a positive: Josie. The heroine is so freaking adorable. I dare you not to love her. Double dare. This is where the author shines—the humor, poignant humor of the innocent babe-in-the-woods stein (yes, like Frankenstein—but is it stine or steen?) There’s even a catenstein (how adorable is that? A cat zombie)! When she tries to command a squirrel…anyway, there are really laugh-out-loud moments with Josie.
The plot is good, moves along and is pretty well fleshed out. I found myself actually caring that the two got together—imagine that?—although I wished the Zombie Underground and Syn-what’s-it would have been explained a little earlier so I didn’t have to stop caring and try to figure out what the hell is going on here: Synaviv Operative 402 downloaded the coordinates, storing them in a section of his mind accessible to the others on the boat. All twelve of his men sat behind him on the motorboat’s benches. “We have the location.” The voice that responded in his head sounded like his own, the part of him located at the company’s Bellevue campus. Few operatives could communicate over distances, even with the company’s redundant and always shifting layers of coverage. Synaviv required hinges like him to lead missions. Pride rushed to 402’s mind, and he set his neurotransmitter receptors to higher uptake before HQ could notice his fluctuation in mood.
The reason that bugged me so much is because the author is very skilled at description: Bane didn’t look back as he walked the pathway toward the dock. Josie followed behind, careful with her bare feet on the twig-strewn ground. The bay was beautiful. Gray-green water met gray-blue sky. In the distance, black islands hovered in welcome…A seagull streamed alongside the boat, visible through his window, seeming to mock his predicament. I think that’s lovely stuff.
Lust After Death is predictably “hot” and while I could take or leave that part of the book, the sex was well written and it didn’t feel like more than one of the scenes was “pushed” into the title to up the heat ante.
In the end, I loved the heroine, thought the writing was spectacular, and enjoyed the story. I would buy another book by this author, and probably will. I’m thinking it’s a 4.5/5 on the Cullen-meter, the half point for creativity. Good book.
You can buy this book at Ellora’s Cave, Amazon, All Romance Ebooks (where I bought it), and other online retailers.
I’ll get to another title tomorrow! Have a great day!