Reaper's Touchby Eleri Stone
Abby is a Ranger, part of an elite group who defend the border against Reapers-humans infected with a parasite that turns them into mindless cannibals. Rangers are immune to Reaper infection, and as one of the only female Rangers, Abby is expected to settle down and breed more Rangers-a fate she's keen to avoid. When she's ambushed on the plains, she's ready to go
Abby is a Ranger, part of an elite group who defend the border against Reapers-humans infected with a parasite that turns them into mindless cannibals. Rangers are immune to Reaper infection, and as one of the only female Rangers, Abby is expected to settle down and breed more Rangers-a fate she's keen to avoid. When she's ambushed on the plains, she's ready to go out with guns blazing-until a mysterious, handsome cowboy rides to her rescue.
Jake has his own motives for helping Abby, beyond aiding a damsel in distress. He's a Reaper, and while he's learned to wrest control of his mind from the parasite, the effects won't last without a permanent cure. And he needs Abby to get it.
Abby and Jake are natural enemies and unlikely partners. But when their search reveals a conspiracy between Reapers and the rich industrialists who own the mountain cities, they must work together to find the cure-or lose the border, and each other, forever.
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Addictive Read. Book review by Nicole McCurdy for Bex 'n' Books Disclosure: This ebook was provided by the author in exchange for an HONEST and not necessarily positive review. I love rotten, decaying, flesh-eating zombies as much as the next girl (apart from Walking Dead, just could not get into that show) but this book is just...wow. I’m speechless, or rather wordless. Honestly, I could wax lyrical about how fantastic this book is. Fast-paced action barrels right from the word go pretty much till the last chapter; it never takes a breather or slows momentum, it just spirals and gathers speed and snowballs into a full on movie in book form with a lot of gruesome brain matter and blood spraying a few people. Eleri Stone has managed in her own approach to make a zombie book rather unique with our hardened heroine Abby being one of few extremely rare female Ranger’s, guarding civilian lives against the perpetual threat of super speedy limb-gnawing Reaper’s in a male dominated misogynistic profession. As she harbours something in her that leaves her immune to Reaper’s infection she is told she should be sheltered somewhere safe, breeding with any willing male, popping out little immune Ranger babies to populate the front lines. Abby is such a three dimensional character. She comes across as stoic and battle-weary but there’s a depth to her, she’s lonely and cynical but strong, intelligent and rather nurturing when it comes to looking after the younger fighters. When it comes to Jake she’s torn and confused and unsure of herself, so unlike how she portrays herself in front of the other Ranger’s. He makes her question everything but in a good way. Our rather unconventional male protagonist Jake had all the elements of a terrific hero too. He’s selfless, sexy as sin, can kick ass when needed and has the whole tortured soul thing going on for him. He too has a lot of hidden depths but they’re a lot more fun to discover for yourself than have me spoil it all for you. Although there are strong elements of romance in Reaper’s Touch, don’t be fooled into thinking this is another Warm Bodies or Twilight-for-zombies type of deal; it’s so much more. Think World War Z with Buffy as the lead and a political conspiracy thrown in for good measure. It’s brilliantly well written, witty and addictive and more than once I caught myself reading faster and faster when it came to a particularly suspenseful scene in order to see the outcome. If you’re an infected-with-a-deadly-zombie-making-disease loving reader, one-click this beauty you won’t regret it.
I did not intend to read this story as quickly as I did, but once I started I couldn't stop. An alternate history southern U.S. swarms with Reapers, once-men who, while technically alive, are governed by a violent, cannibalistic parasite that makes them mindless killers - among other things. Rangers roam the tentative border between Reaper land and human civilization. Dedicated and immune to the Reaper's bite, but still mortal, they race to take down the flesh-eating hordes to guard the rest of humanity - even the Scrapers in their fat, luxurious cities high above the plains. Abby's tough, one of few female rangers - most women with the star-shaped mark of the Ranger are secured in forts, reproducing the ranks. She's never wanted that life, but being a Ranger is tough. She's the only woman in her platoon and, while her fellow Rangers are her friends, she's always felt at least somewhat apart and alone. While delivering a message to a Ranger fort, she stumbles into a spot of trouble and tall, dark and competent cowboy Jake helps her stumble out of it. The attraction between them is as intense as it is complicated. Jake's a Reaper, once who's outlived the mindless carnage of his infected "youth" and survived years of torture at the hands of human scientists presumably looking for a cure for the parasite. The push-pull denial/attraction of their relationship is delicious, the danger surrounding them very real. This is a sweet romance built inside of an imaginative "Western" world packed full of dire adventure. Recommended for fans of Moira Rogers and Kristen Callihan.
Reaper’s Touch is one of those unusual, creative novels that doesn’t neatly fit into one particular genre. Instead it’s a genre mash-up incorporating elements from western, paranormal romance, dystopian, and steam punk fiction. Stone pulled me into an alternate universe replete with an old west landscape, zombie invaders, and airships all surrounding a centralized government where the affluent reside in extravagance while the rest of society live in harsh conditions struggling to eek out a living and fend off the zombie-like, cannibalistic creatures called “Reapers.” To keep civilians safe, “Rangers,” a select group of men and women who patrol the country on horseback, are the military force charged with fighting and killing the mindless Reapers whose bloodlust and need for flesh drive them to attack humans. However, not just anyone can be a Ranger. They are the “star-marked” children who are born immune to the parasitic virus that Reapers carry and cannot be turned. As a result, all star-marked children must become Rangers when they become adults. The males are not allowed to marry but are encouraged to procreate as much as possible to ensure future generations of Rangers will be on hand to protect and serve. The protagonist, Abby, is one of the rare females born a Ranger. It’s not the life she wants, but she has little choice in the matter. Her only other alternative is to settle down at one of the Ranger’s forts and have children, little Rangers who will also grow up with the same limitations that have been forced upon her. No matter how much her captain encourages it, Abby stubbornly refuses to leave her post. Yes, even in this alternate world, Abby has to deal with sexist attitudes from some of the Rangers in this male-dominated field. The war between Rangers and Reapers has been going on for centuries, but as the story progresses, Abby surprisingly learns that some of these animalistic Reapers have become sentient, like Jake, who comes to Abby’s rescue several times when she is sent out on a lone mission. Initially Abby is attracted to this stranger who has become her savior until she learns what he really is. Throughout the first half of the novel, she’s disgusted and repulsed by Jake who makes her his prisoner when she refuses to help him with his agenda. Even though Jake has regained control of the “rider,” the Reaper side of him that thirsts for flesh and blood, he has to constantly fight these urges around Abby. Much of the book’s plot focuses on Abby and Jake’s conflicting feelings for each other and the sexual tension that simmers between them. A central question in the book is whether a Reaper and a Ranger can fall in love. I like that the story is narrated from both Abby’s and Jake’s perspectives because it helped me to see them both as multi-dimensional characters and be able to relate to their situation. The book does include some descriptive love scenes intended for mature readers. When Abby and Jake form an unprecedented alliance in the quest to find a cure for the virus, they face an uphill battle, with their efforts being thwarted every step of the way. It seems not everyone wants a cure for the virus to be found. The novel is engaging and suspenseful, and along the way, Stone raises some important moral and ethical considerations for thought. She also brings awareness to the ongoing debate about women serving on the front lines in war. The conclusion eased me out of this fictitious world yet left me longing for more. After I finished the book, I felt that the world-building could have been stronger and the resolution occurred a bit too easily for my satisfaction. However, after looking at the author’s Goodread’s page, I noticed that she has plans to expand the novel into a series. The next installment is titled Gun Shy, but a book description hasn’t been provided yet. So Stone has plenty of time to continue fleshing out this unusual, creative world that she has begun building. Source: I received a copy of this book from the author to provide an honest review.