Before surviving the Scorpius bacterium, Tace Justice was a good ole Texas cowboy who served his country and loved his mama. After Scorpius, the world became dark, dangerous, and deadly—and so did he. The Vanguard medic is stronger, faster, and smarter than before, but he’s lost the line between right and wrong. His passion is absolute, and when he focuses it on one woman, there’s no turning back for either of them…
Sami Steel has been fighting to survive right alongside Tace, convincing the Vanguard soldiers she’s one of them. In truth, Sami is a former hacker turned government agent who worked at The Bunker, where scientists stored both contaminants and cures. Only she knows the location, and she’s not telling. Yet when sexual fire explodes between her and Tace, she’ll face even that hell again to save him.
“Sexy, tough, and deftly sprinkled with dark humor.” —New York Times bestselling author Larissa Ione
About the Author
Growing up amid the glorious backdrops and winter wonderlands of the Pacific Northwest has given Rebecca fantastic scenery and adventures to weave into her stories. She resides in the wild north with her husband, children, and extended family who inspire her every day—or at the very least give her plenty of characters to write about.
Please visit Rebecca at www.rebeccazanetti.com.
Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RebeccaZanetti.Author.FanPage
Twitter at http://twitter.com/RebeccaZanetti
Read an Excerpt
By REBECCA ZANETTI
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Zanetti
All rights reserved.
The Darkness doesn't just stare back ... it moves forward, opens its mouth, and swallows you whole.
— Tace Justice
Tace Justice read the last depressing line on the page and growled, tossing the journal across the room. When it landed, the cover slapped back into place with Hello Kitty smiling at him. Jesus. Paper was scarce, but doc could've found a different notebook when she'd ordered him to start journaling. Like his descent into madness really needed to be recorded by a happy cat.
He glanced around his dismal apartment in Vanguard headquarters. Worn beige bedspread, tan couch, ripped brown linoleum that smelled like, well, nothing. Hell, it probably smelled bad, but he'd lost his sense of smell. If he wasn't crazy already, the entire room would have depressed the shit out of him. The walls had been painted white decades ago and even now stood bare and dingy. Should he get some art to brighten the place up?
Why bother? He stood and stretched, wincing as new bruises ached to life.
They'd returned mere hours before from a full-out battle up north where they'd rescued two of their own. His adrenaline had ebbed, yet his mind still spun. No way could he sleep.
A tremor started in his right foot, and he paused, taking note. It vibrated up past his knee, and he had to balance on his other leg as weakness assailed his entire limb.
Not another tremor.
He sighed and waited, breathing in and out evenly until his strength returned. Damn it. What was wrong with him? He lacked the emotion to be truly concerned, but this was certainly annoying.
His bed was empty of company, and he needed to burn off some energy. At the midnight hour, the gym downstairs would be free, so he deserted the crappy apartment, leaving the door unlocked. If anybody wanted to steal his ugly bedspread, they could take it with his blessing.
He turned down the quiet hallway where the elite Vanguard soldiers slept. All was quiet. Apparently, anybody getting some had already done so, and folks were now recuperating from the fight earlier.
Reaching the landing, he hustled down a flight of stairs to the vestibule of the brick building, tuning in to the soup kitchen to the right. No breathing. The place was deserted. Pivoting sharply, he took two stairs at a time to reach the basement, which housed their makeshift gym.
"What are you doing up?" A female voice caught him unaware.
He stopped cold at the sight of Sami Steel stretching out on the blue gym mat, her dark hair piled on top of her head, her fit body in tight yoga pants and a tank top. Bruises marred her slim jaw from the fight earlier, and a purpling lump showed on her right wrist. "Couldn't sleep," he said, his body awakening completely. Hell, he hadn't realized his body had been slumbering. "You?" he asked.
She breathed in, raising very nice tits. "Too keyed up from the fight earlier."
"I'm with you." After the fight, it had taken hours to return to Vanguard territory, so they should both have been fine by now. "We're strange."
She grinned, and cute lines crinkled by her soft brown eyes. "Anybody who has survived Scorpius is weird, if you ask me."
He nodded. The Scorpius bacterium had spread through the human population like a biblical plague, killing more than 99 percent of those infected. Since the bacteria localized in the brain, it altered everyone who'd survived it. Some were faster, some meaner, some crazier, and some evil. He was still figuring out where he was landing on that spectrum, and all indications pointed to sociopathic. "You fought well earlier."
She lifted a dark eyebrow. "Thanks, although I did notice you covering my back more than was necessary. I can kick your ass, remember?"
True. She'd been kicking his ass for months in training. The woman had been raised by a father who owned a karate studio and an uncle who owned a street fighting organization, so she'd been fighting since birth. Yet lately ...
Tace had been holding back, not wanting to hurt her. Or to take away the confidence she seemed to need. "You are tough, now, aren't you?"
Something in his tone must've alerted her, because her chin lowered. "You wanna go a round?" she murmured.
His cock perked up. Damn it. He should've gone looking for the woman he'd been sleeping with lately, but the gym had interested him as much as sex, which was a bad sign. Lately he kept seeing Sami's face, even with Barbara moving naked beneath him, and that could never happen. For as tough as Sami was physically, she had a delicacy of spirit he'd destroy. Right now, before he completely succumbed to his darker side, he needed to make sure they stayed colleagues. "Nah," he said, letting his natural Texas twang free. "I don't wanna fight."
"Chicken," Sami taunted, standing and pulling one arm across her chest.
His mouth went dry, but he couldn't look away. "I, ah, was trying to write in a journal and got frustrated." Why was he sharing?
Sami rolled her eyes and worked on the other arm. "The doc told me to start journaling, too. Said it would be good for my brain as well as a proper recording of us rebuilding civilization."
Tace snorted. "You've been keeping a diary?"
"No," Sami shot back.
Lie. Interesting. While Tace couldn't smell things any longer, he could sure as shit make out a lie. His chest heated. Oh, he was fine with her calling him a chicken, but lying to him? The darkness inside him rose up to battle with his good intentions. "Why the hell are you so secretive?" he snapped.
Her eyes widened and then narrowed right on him. "I'm not."
Another fucking lie. The woman had more secrets than a CIA agent he'd met once while working as a medic in the army. "I'm not the only one who can read a lie these days, sweetheart. Many of us survivors have extra abilities, it seems. You might want to watch yourself."
Her upper lip curled. "The day I need advice from you, Justice, I'll be sure to ask nicely."
Oh, he wanted to sink his teeth into that pretty pink lip. He took a step back, shaking his head free of the image. This was Sami, for Pete's sake. They were both lieutenants to Jax Mercury, the leader of Vanguard, and they needed to keep it professional. Hell, at some point, if he turned crazier, she might be present when somebody had to put him down.
"You sure you don't wanna go a round?" she asked again, her stance wide.
His chin lowered. "I don't think you want my hands on you right now."
She blinked. "Oh, you are asking for a beating."
The challenge, arrogant and annoying, barreled right through him. The beast growing in him won. He moved without thinking, grabbing her and putting her ass against the wall.
She gasped as he held her a foot or so off the ground.
He leaned into her face and smiled. "You should watch your mou —"
She chopped to his neck, and he saw stars. Two seconds later, she'd knocked him on his back, planted her ass on his abdomen, and angled her hands around his throat. "Tap out," she snarled, straddling him.
A day ago, he would've tapped out. But something new and dark rose in him, hard and fast. "No." Sweeping her arms away from his trachea, he grabbed her hip and shoved, rolling them both over. "I'm done tapping out."
* * *
Sami's shoulders hit the mat a second before her butt landed. Going on instinct and a lifetime of training, she struck out, nailing Tace in the throat. His head jerked back, and she rolled away, leaping to her feet. "What the fuck?" Her breath puffed out in bursts. How had he gotten to her so fast?
He angled to the left, his movements agile, his gaze on her legs. "Gloves are off, baby. Get ready to have your ass kicked."
Tingles spread through her abdomen. He moved with the deadly grace she'd seen in a panther once years ago, his steps sure, his stance aggressive. Tace and aggressive with a woman? They didn't go together. "What is wrong with you?" she asked, keeping him squarely in her sights.
He chuckled, the sound both pissed and frustrated. "We don't have that kind of time, darlin'."
Darlin'. She swallowed and tried to ignore that sexy drawl. Oh, he'd called her endearments before when they'd trained, but there had always been a brotherly fondness to his tone, so she'd been able to keep him in that safe slot. This was different. This tone caught her breath in her throat and shot lava through her veins, which was all sorts of bad. Her penchant for bad boys had ruined her life more than once, but never again. They had to remain colleagues if not friends. "You've lost your mind," she muttered.
"No doubt about that." He feinted in and back out.
Her head lifted, and she set her feet on the mat. "I guess the good ole boy needs a lesson." She used the falsest Texas accent she could muster, fighting to remain in control.
His upper lip quirked just enough for her to notice. "One of us is learning a lesson tonight."
All right. He'd asked for it. She inventoried him quickly. Clear eyes, fluid movements, absolute focus. The fight earlier hadn't seemed to weaken him. At six foot four inches tall or so, he towered over her. Add in cut muscles and raw strength, and she'd need to take him to the mat to win. She also had her mouth and brain to use against him. "If you're feeling so frisky, why didn't you call on the doctor you were screwing? Or the second-squad soldier? The one you've been banging this last week." If he just moved an inch to the left ...
He angled to the right, his hands loose, his body relaxed. "Those were both casual and aren't gonna work out."
"Oh?" Keeping her peripheral gaze on his feet, Sami slid to the left, trying not to care about his relationships ending. When he was with somebody else, she didn't see him as a possibility, which he could not be. "Why isn't it going to work out with the inner-city doctor?"
He lifted a broad shoulder. "We agreed on just fuckin', and I'm getting bored. Angie wants more."
An ankle shot would take him down, but she couldn't put him out of commission. "Love, huh?"
"No. A good beating."
Sami stilled. "What?"
Tace shrugged. "She likes it rough. I've enjoyed smacking the hell out of her ass, but I can't bring myself to use a whip. She wants a whip, and she wants it to cut deep."
Sami shook her head and took a step back, mentally erasing the image of Tace delivering a sexual spanking. Her chest heated. "She's a masochist?"
"But you're not a sadist." This conversation had taken a serious detour. Why were they talking about sex?
"Guess not." He rubbed his chin, his gaze traveling across her body. "Though the right woman could probably talk me into it."
Sami held up a hand, her skin tingling where his gaze had landed. "Whoa. I do not want to be whipped."
Triumph filled his gaze. "Who said I was talking about you?"
Her mouth snapped shut. She drew a breath in. "Fine. Then how about Barbara? She's a great soldier, and you've seemed happy with her this last week."
He shrugged. "We agreed to no commitments." His eyebrows rose. "I'd ask about your love life, but you haven't been seeing anybody. Don't you miss sex?"
"Who says I haven't been having sex?" Time to put him in his place, damn it. She moved then, punching him hard in the gut and sweeping left. He bent over with a muffled oof, and she kicked out, aiming for his shoulder.
"You've been celibate. I've watched." His torso pivoted, and he grabbed her foot before it connected with his flesh.
What the hell? She hopped back, her entire body going into a fight-or-flight mode. He'd never moved that quickly before. Her breath sped up, and only part of her reaction was from the fight.
Giving a low laugh, he shoved her foot up into the air, knocking her off balance.
She landed on her back with a loud slap against the mat, the air whooshed from her lungs, and he was on her.
Her mouth gaped open.
He straddled her and manacled his powerful hands around her biceps, pressing her upper body to the mat. He leaned down, his eyes right above hers.
She blinked several times. From day one, his eyes had fascinated her. Deep and blue, they looked what she'd imagined the Texas sky looked like. But as she focused, awareness struck. Dark blue rims, nearly black, encircled his irises. Those were new.
"Tap out," he whispered, his voice gritty.
Oh, he really didn't know her at all. She went limp as if giving up. His lips started to curve into a smile. Using her butt as a fulcrum, she rolled her hips, pushed off from her shoulders, and yanked her knees up beneath his arms. Putting all her strength into her legs, she kicked him squarely where his arms met his shoulders. The shock of the impact ricocheted up to her hips.
He fell back, releasing her.
She rolled into a backward somersault and leaped to her feet, her gaze tracking him. Awareness clacked through her, igniting nerves to life. Her blood stirred, and her body went on full alert, reacting to the raw maleness suddenly challenging her.
He stood and stretched his right shoulder, smiling. The smile wasn't amused and held more than a hint of warning. "That's relief in your pretty eyes, Samantha," he whispered.
"Ha. That's boredom," she shot back, keeping track of his hands, her heart thundering. She'd spent her whole life courting danger, and she wasn't changing now. If he moved in fast, she'd need to kick.
"Hmm." He rubbed his other shoulder. "I originally just wanted to let off some steam, you know." He moved forward, just a foot, already in a fighting stance but way too calm.
"Is that so?" She kept on her toes, her body on alert for his move.
"Yeah. Then I kind of wanted to win and make you tap out. But this isn't about just tapping out anymore, now is it?" His chin lowered, and he focused on her knees, a different look in his eyes than she'd ever seen there.
The look stole her breath away.
She couldn't transmit her intention with her legs, so she shook out her hands, trying to draw his attention. His concentration didn't move. Her entire body felt sensitized and primed — hyperaware of him. "What more is there than tapping out?" Her voice lowered to a whisper.
His nostrils flared like a wolf's catching a scent. "You're wondering what it'd be like. You and me — just once."
She stiffened and then quickly loosened her muscles in case of attack. How did he know that? Her legs trembled, and she settled her stance again. "Not even close."
His grin was full-on this time. "Liar."
She swallowed. All right. The guy had blue eyes, chiseled features, ripped abs, and a Texan drawl. Plus, she'd always had a thing for blonds. "Wait a second." She cocked her head to the side. "Is your hair getting darker?" He'd cut it, but now that it was growing out a little, she could see burnished auburn instead of blond.
"Yes, ma'am. Apparently hair and eyes can change color after Scorpius." He moved his head, his gaze on her feet now. "The eyes of some early Ebola survivors changed color, so it's not a huge surprise."
She lowered her shoulders. Okay, this was good. They had returned to talking about Scorpius. "I see."
"Back to the point. You're attracted to me, and I think I'm finally seeing how you've managed to hide that so well." Regret twisted his lip even as he spoke.
Heat climbed into her face. Focus. Don't get angry. Keep calm to fight. Her father's mantra rippled through her head. "Maybe you're just crazy now."
"Could be." He moved then, and she countered, shocked when he took her down with one arm around her waist.
She struck out, and he once again straddled her, his groin firm against her abdomen. His hands pinned her arms to the mat, and this time, he kept his elbows in so she couldn't use her legs.
Tace had always been a fast learner.
He leaned down, his face once again above hers. Heat bracketed her from all sides. "The fact that you could kick my ass kept you feeling all nice and safe and superior, now didn't it?"
Warning pricked through her abdomen at his words. His hold was absolute, so she didn't try to fight it. A pulse pounded between her legs. He'd move, and then she'd find an opening. "That's ridiculous."
"Is it?" He leaned down, and his breath warmed her mouth. "I'm thinkin' an old-fashioned girl like you would not want a guy she could beat. It's a biological issue, especially now that civilization has died."
"Old-fashioned?" She snorted even as she fought a shiver.
"Oh, Samantha. Little girl, big Hispanic family, raised by street fighters? Yeah, you're old-fashioned."
She rolled her eyes. "My mama was Hispanic, but a name like Steel? I'm descended from Scots as well, buddy."
Excerpted from Justice Ascending by REBECCA ZANETTI. Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Zanetti. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
LOVE, love, luv this author and this series is my favorite. You'll not be disappointed if you get this one. Will keep you truly engaged with the storyline, characters, action and emotions. Get this one. I can't wait til the next installment.
Waited forever for this to come out, and I was not disappointed. Can't wait to see what happens next.
Couldn't put it down. It is one of those books that you don't want to end.
Great love story!
All her books are GOOD
This is my favorite type of romance-post-apocalyptic. I've read each of the books in this series and it only gets better and better with each book. Though this is the third book in the series, they can be read as standalones, though the story is so much richer by reading them all and in order. Trace was a medic before Scorpius and is a valued member of Vanguard. Sami is a kick-ass lieutenant of Vanguard and claims to have been a member of the LAPD. It's been fun watching these two dance around each other up to now. But the the time has come to fish or cut bait. While the action is nonstop, the romance is hot and adorable. Zanetti has added yet another winner to this series and at two books a year in this series from her plus her Blood Brothers series, my hero!
I was hesitant at first to pick up this series as I thought it would be too dark but I absolutely love this series. The author has built a believable world post catastrophe and extremely engaging characters. I am so anxious to read the next in this series! Please, Ms. Zanetti, write the next one soon and keep these characters' stories moving forward!!
Once I started this book I read it straight through to the end. Great plot, full of action and romance. I love all of Ms. Zanetti's books and I can't wait for the next one in this series!
I live how more information is coming together instead of just this unending search.I thoroughly enjoyed the the story line. Didn't need the endless sex, but I am sure others enjoyed it.
Enough action, storyline and great characters. Worth it.
I enjoyed the read. The series continues....I'm so ready to see how it ends! This story didn't tie up loose ends...so the reader is left wanting more and answers to questions.
Justice Ascending is another phenomenal book from these series. I was scared in the beginning that the author wouldn’t keep the greatness but she did it again. Sami and Texas their story so different from the previous but amazing like the others. The story is full of suspense unpredictable events so many things happened in the book I was shocked because I didn’t not see them coming. Sami is so different that I thought so much more likable and her love for Texas beautiful. Texas is also so much more lovable he has the part that even he didn’t know that he have and he is amazing person. I hope the author continuous to write another amazing book from series I can’t wait to read it and to see what happens next. I volunteered to review an ARC of this book for Netgelly
Action packed at a lightning fast pace with a cast of well loved characters. Can't beat this series.
As usual, Rebecca Zanetti delivers! I couldn't put it down. The charectors are fun, and interesting. The plot is intriguing, full of emotion and funny.
Justice Ascending (The Scorpius Syndrome) is book three in this speculative fiction with a heavy emphasis on romance series. I liked this Vanguard crew story with Tace, even though he became even darker than the last book. Perhaps that is because Sami is strong, intense and forceful. Their journey is volatile and unpredictable. There are many surprises as revelations. Still there are questions to be answered in the overall series. This is a series to read in order, with former main characters playing a major supporting role in this book. If dark fantasy or post-apocalyptic books are you thing, you will love the imaginative world and characters of the Scorpius Syndrome Series especially Justice Ascending. An ARC of the book was given to me by the publisher through Net Galley.
Man this series just gets better and better. Loved it. Passionate. Powerful. Dark. Emotional. Action filled suspense. It has everything. Sami is a Vanguard lieutenant with secrets. She knows where the Bunker is; the Bunker they have been searching for ever since Lynn came to Vanguard territory. Tace is the Texas charmer turned dark soldier ever since he was infected with Scorpius. Both have been attracted to each other from the moment they met, though both have hidden it well. Sami doesn't want to risk her secrets being revealed and is afraid that if she gets involved with Tace, it will make the inevitable truth hurt more. Tace hides his feelings because he has no feelings, not since the infection. He is Dark, cold, and violent. Where before he would have hesitated to kill someone, now he doesn't flinch from the act. Where before he knew right from wrong and where that line lay, now he doesn't. He knows it exists but doesn't know where the line lies anymore and fears he doesn't care to try. He fears he would hurt her. But when they are sent into Merc territory on a goodwill mission, they both stop fighting their attraction for just one promised night. Once back home, they try to go on as if nothing happened, though everyone suspects they are either together or will get together soon. There are lots of battles, post-apocalyptic LA scenes described vividly, explosions, gun battles, new partners and old enemies, and the Bunker is finally revealed. The only question that lies unanswered is whether the cure for Scorpius lies within its files. It was so good. Loved it.
Tace Justice, a down home Texas boy has left the innocence of the pre-Scorpius days behind him. Infected only a few weeks earlier with the Scorpius bacterium, he is one of the survivors, helped by a timely dose of Vitamin B. The infection has definitely changed him though, the dark parts of his soul becoming much more prominent. As the medic for Vanguard, the small section of territory ruled by Jax Mercury in these post apocalyptic days, he has a valuable part to play in the survival of their small group. But bouts of numbness and blackouts make him keenly aware that he's not out of the woods yet. Sami Steel is happy to have found a family of sorts with the Vanguard crew as one of their chief scouts and fighters. Her secret background as a computer hacker is safe – until Tace, her friend and a man she finds herself more and more attracted to, shows alarming symptoms. She knows the location of the bunker that Jax and his partner Lynn have been looking for but to reveal her secrets could mean the end of any trust she's built with the people she thinks of as friends. As she and Tace grow closer, will she be willing to risk everything to keep him alive? Fascinating world building, exciting action sequences, and super sexy scenes characterize this series and Justice Ascending has all that in spades. Tace and Sami are explosive together. Part of Tace's infection symptoms include obsessive behavior, and more and more he finds that Sami is at the focus of his every thought and action. His urge to keep her safe and protected wars with his knowledge that she is a capable and strong fighter. And she's not afraid to turn that strength on him when required. The result is emotionally intense scenes as they fight their attraction to each other but ultimately lose the battle. While Tace and Sami are growing closer, the suspenseful plot proceeds at a swift pace. Vanguard has an uneasy alliance of sorts with the Mercs, another group of survivors also fighting the fanatical American president (a sociopathic survivor of Scorpius) and his government forces. Inside Vanguard's walls is a religious cult of 'pure' people who've never been infected with the bacterium, but whose leader's suspicious behavior puts everyone on edge. The hunt is on for the bunker containing a possible cure for Scorpius. There are several scenes with secondary characters that give some clues as to who will be featured in upcoming stories. While we get an eventual happy ending for Tace and Sami, the fight to survive continues – and I can't wait for the next chapter in the series!
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 4 1/2 Justice Ascending takes us back into a world that has been destroyed by the Scorpius bacterium and things are not getting any better for the people of Vanguard. Tace Justice has been trying to come to terms with himself after he was affected by Scorpius. Is it bad that I enjoyed reading about Tace’s struggles? Maybe not, it was good to see a vulnerable side to him. I really liked that Sami is tough and wants to be treated the same as any other soldier. Her backstory and the secrets she has been keeping proved very helpful. I enjoyed these two together. Really enjoyed this book and was happy that Tace and Sami finally got together. I can’t wait to see what happens next. There are so many directions that Ms. Zanetti can go after the events of Justice Ascending. I am very much looking forward to it! Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley & Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
I was given ARC copy in exchange for an honest review by Netgalley and Loveswept. Tace Justice has been infected by Scorpius but survived . However with some side effects. Sami Steel has some very important secrets that she doesn't want anyone to know. Action, suspense , edge of your seat and nail biting . great book
Before surviving the Scorpius bacterium, Tace Justice was a good ole Texas cowboy who served his country and loved his mama. After Scorpius, the world became dark, dangerous, and deadly... and so did he. The Vanguard medic is stronger, faster, and smarter than before, but he's lost the line between right and wrong. His passion is absolute, and when he focuses it on one woman, there's no turning back for either of them. Sami Steel has been fighting to survive right alongside Tace, convincing the Vanguard soldiers she's one of them. In truth, Sami is a former hacker turned government agent who worked at The Bunker, where scientists stored both contaminants and cures. Only she knows the location, and she's not telling. Yet when sexual fire explodes between her and Tace, she'll face even that hell again to save him. Review: If you have been reading this series, first Tace get his own book....Yeah! I have been waiting for his turn. Second, we finally get some answers on some of the questions that have been left hanging, no I am not going to tell, it would give away some great plot points. This like the other books in the series are full of action and intrigue. I found myself guessing about a whole lot of the peoples motives in this book. Going back to the statement above though we get some answers to nagging issues, more come up in this book to keep the series going. I think the thing I loved most about this book other than Tace, is Tace dealing with Scorpius. Everything about him is changing, the virus is having serious effects on not just his personality but his body seems to be shutting down too. Tace tries to hide and deal with what is happening to him that make for some interesting and tense situations. Sami is a good mate for him. She is strong, capable and able to handle Tace's crap...lol Sami is keeping secrets and they might come back to haunt her if she does not come clean. They are super sexy together and burn up the pages with their chemistry. Of course, we see all of the people that have been in the story until now because even though these are romances and have a central couple in each one, they are an ensemble pieces. One story builds upon the other, so reading them in order is also best. I am curious to see who is next. Hopefully we will not have to wait too long. Love the series and get more attached to the characters with every book. 5Stars *I voluntarily read an advance reader copy of this book provided by the publisher.*
4.25 stars--JUSTICE ASCENDING is the third full length installment in Rebecca Zanetti’s THE SCORPIUS SYNDROME cross genre Sci-Fi/ UF/Dystopian series focusing on a biological pandemic sweeping the world that has already killed 99% of the US population. This is former Texas cowboy and soldier Tace Justice, and former LAPD rookie Sami Steel’s story line that looks at life in the aftermath, and the fallout from an unknown bacteria-from space. The story line advances the series but a few days. For more background information and some history, there is a prequel novella-SCORPIUS RISING-which can be found in the ON THE HUNT anthology (August 2015). SOME BACKGROUND: Some of those infected with the biological virus have survived to become something known as a Ripper, but there are two types of Rippers inhabiting the world-one is a zombie like creature who feasts on the living; the other is a survivor whose brain has been altered resulting in a stronger, more powerful enhanced human being sometimes bordering on the sociopath ideology with delusions of grandeur and hate. If you are a fan of the series The Walking Dead, you will see many similarities in the story line premise including the search for food and supplies, attacks of the ‘undead’, and various groups of survivors vying for power and control. Told from several third person points of view JUSTICE ASCENDING focuses on the struggle to survive as the depleting inventory at the Vanguard compound threatens the survival of anyone seeking refuge. Tace Justice, along with many other members of the compound survived the virus but the resulting after affects are slowly killing our story line hero. Tace is a former army field medic and has been ordered to the Mercenary’s compound to offer medical aid following an attack by the Elite Force and the self-proclaimed president of the USA- a man once infected by the Scorpius virus who has since become a sociopathic Ripper. Enter Sami Steel, the woman that calls to Tace’s heart, and the woman sent to scope out the Mercs for some well needed supplies. What ensues is the building relationship between Sami and Tace, Tace’s struggle to keep secret his deteriorating condition, and the search for answers at the California Bunker. The relationship between Tace and Sami is a friends to lovers scenario-sparring partners, and compound soldiers, Tace has always been attracted to the feisty Sami Steele-a woman who keeps her past a secret –a secret that could help save Tace’s life. Tace is a mercurial hero, a man who struggles with the dark demons that have affected his brain and his mind. The $ex scenes are erotic, intense and passionate-there are some scenes of spanking and discipline. There is a large ensemble cast of secondary and supporting characters including Vanguard leader Jax Mercury and Lynne Harmony (Mercury Striking #1), mercenary Raze Shadow, and FBI profiler Vivienne (Vinnie) Wellington (Shadow Falling #2), as well as a number of soldier and people at the compounds both Vanguard and Mercenary. The Vanguard facility must contend with a growing number of people free of the virus hoping to keep themselves ‘pure’- the purists is a cult-like group who follow another self-proclaimed leader Pastor Zachary King who will protect his followers from the Scorpius virus. We are re- introduced to Damon Winter and Greyson Storm (leader of the Mercs) two men who struggle to keep their own people alive. The requisite evil includes President Bret Atherton, an
Justice Ascending by Rebecca Zanetti is the third book in The Scorpius Syndrome series and it was an action packed story. Tace and Sami are both complex characters with big secrets. Tace is having serious side effects from his exposure to Scorpius but doesn't want any one to know. Sami has convinced Jax that she's an ex LAPD rookie. Her fighting skills seem to prove that but she is a whole lot more. The dialogue was sharp with insights into each of the characters. The plot moved at the speed of light with plenty of action and romance. Ms. Zanetti's world building is becoming wider and more indepth as the search for the infamous Bunker and survival supplies continues. There were several dark moments in this story but that is to be expected as this world is dark and scary. There were also some lighter moments as readers get to see the friendships that are being forged in this post apocalyptic world. There is also the tentative truce between Vanguard and the Mercs which I hope will be explored more in the near future. I am already looking forward to the next book in this series. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from Zebra/Kensington via NetGalley.