But these are the benefits.
When it comes to the men's genetic enhancement, things aren't all good. Dr. Whitney, the genius behind the experiments, didn’t bother to tell them that their "gifts" come with some pretty ugly side effects. Such as intense migraines, seizures, potential madness and, oh yeah, one more biggie. While each soldier was getting animal DNA inserted into their cells, pheromones were also added to the mix which cause each man to be genetically paired with a female that would be his perfect mate.
Because, in the eyes of an unhinged scientist, what's better than a walking, talking gang of enhanced soldiers? Groups of enhanced soldiers having baby soldiers that would grow up to continue fighting the necessary battles.
But again, these things don't come without a price. And in this case, the sacrifice the females make is steep. The women drafted into Dr. Whitney’s experiments never had a choice. They were stolen off the streets as infants or bought from orphanages, and they spent their childhoods being taught to develop mental and psychic abilities. So when it comes time for them to be paired up with their male counterparts, well, you can just guess how well this goes over.
So where does this leave readers? With a terrifying evil scientist, great action scenes, a strong dose of the paranormal and heroes and heroines who can’t live without each other — but can’t get over their pasts. To say this series was love at first read for me would be an understatement.
During the past several years, Feehan has continued to add to her Game series. I have devoured each one, not wanting the action to ever end. The author has taken us to Africa where GhostWalkers were tortured for sport. We have met other enhanced teams and followed them though urban warfare. And in each book we read about incredibly damaged, yet courageous characters who refuse to stop until they find a place where they belong.
Mind Game, an early book in the series, has always been a favorite of mine. This story follows Dahlia Le Blanc, a "finder" who uses her telekinetic gifts to hunt down weapons that could be used against the U.S. When Dahlia learns too much and marked for death, she is completely out of her element. She has no discernable offensive skills and no place and no one to turn to for safety.
Dahlia became a favorite character of mine because of her vulnerability. She had been locked up in an asylum for years with only a nurse to watch over her. Only let out for days at a time to complete a mission, Dahlia doesn’t get close to anyone. She is unworldly and even her own abilities continually confuse her. I have to admit that every time I re-read this book (and I have often) it is a huge relief when Nicolas, her paired partner, shows up to care for her. Dahlia needs him. She needs him as an anchor for her psychic overload and also to bring human warmth into her life.
But as much as I love Dahlia, this month, with Feehan's newest release, Samurai Game, the author has outdone herself. She's crafted my new favorite GhostWalker heroine — Azami.
Interestingly enough, I like Azami for the opposite reasons like Dahlia. Azami doesn’t need anyone. She is a tough assassin and bodyguard. She does better working on her own, totally invisible. She finds her target and eliminates them — permanently. But Azami is not a sniper. She likes to get up close and personal with her kills using blow guns, fast-acting poisons and hand-to-hand combat. She is righteous saving the world from madmen, but even though she is doling out justice, it can be shocking.
Azami is the kind of heroine that readers may not understand completely, but at the same time she so different from us that we can’t help but be intrigued. And we aren’t the only ones. When Azami meets Sam Johnson, a member of the original GhostWalker team, he cannot take his eyes off of her. Sam doesn’t even know that Azami is enhanced, but there is something primal about their attraction that gets his attention. He literally can’t stay away from the fierce woman. And the more he gets to know Azami and her abilities, the more he likes her.
When, during battle, Sam watches Azami take down a helicopter with only a bow and arrow, that is it — he is completely smitten. She is obviously the woman for him. And it is at this point that I began to like Sam as much as I liked Azami. He doesn’t question her skills, doesn’t look down on her because of her gender. He accepts that like him, Azami is a warrior. It takes a very strong man not to be intimidated by this small, though mighty woman, but Sam is game. In fact, he thinks Azami is even more sexy because she can take care of herself and those she is tasked to protect.
Samurai Game releases today and I hope that readers everywhere get this book. It is for anyone who likes reading fight scenes. Or love scenes. Or paranormal scenes. Or scene scenes. Yes, it is a great book in a great series. And for those who need any more convincing, I will leave you with my favorite scene. Sam and Azami are getting ready for bed and as Sam undresses his lover, he is surprised, and definitely pleased to find that even without clothes on she is never defenseless ...
“I’m taking these pins out of your hair. Am I going to stab my finger on something and die from instant poisoning, because I need to see your hair down?”
He grasped an intricately painted porcelain hair pin and tugged … The pin looked innocent enough, but he didn’t trust it. Azami looked innocent and she was a dangerous woman. He would bet his last dollar this work of art was very lethal.
Azami smiled at him and held out her hand. “The pins with cherry blossoms are used in up close fighting or perhaps a quick jab as one passes the enemy on the street. Just press twice and the needle is here.” She pointed to the end of the pin. “It would feel much like the sting of a tiny insect if felt at all and they are dead.”
“Woman.” Sam grinned at her, blood heating at the mere idea of her abilities. She was everything he’d ever dreamt of. “I think I’m fast becoming obsessed with you. What about this one?” He pulled a dark red pin from her hair. The porcelain was decorated with lacy leaves winding up the cylinder. “Dark red is for...?”
“Blowgun. It works quite well up to about twenty-five feet. After that, no real accuracy, but handy in a pinch.” She placed the dark red pin carefully on the nightstand beside the cherry blossom pin.
He pulled another pin loose and more hair snaked down her shoulder. This one was black with a golden dragon curling around it. “And this one?”
She shrugged one shoulder. “Arrows. For my mini cross-bow.”
Her casual answer, given in that low, husky voice sent another rush of heat spreading through his veins. His blood turned to magma, hot and thick with need. There was one red pin, three dragon and three cherry blossom pins. Sam pulled each one out slowly, watching the way her hair cascaded down her back in a silky waterfall. He found her incredibly sexy, a mixture of lethal and fragile. Her hair snaked down her back to her waist in another glorious miracle of womanly wiles. He’d had no idea her hair was so long. However she managed to pin it up with seven ornate weapons was simply another mystery.