Review: Bane (Strain #2) by Amelia C. Gormley

September 22, 2015 Review 3

Review: Bane (Strain #2) by Amelia C. Gormley

The weapon that nearly destroyed humanity may be their only salvation.

Rhys Cooper’s unique immunity to all three strains of the virus that nearly annihilated humanity has brought him the unwanted attention of Clean Zone scientists. They’ve summoned him for testing—ostensibly in the hopes of finding a vaccine—but Rhys’s partner, Darius Murrell, has good reason not to trust any government. He and his comrades in Delta Company were unwitting test subjects for Project Juggernaut, the military experiment that gave them superhuman abilities and unleashed the pandemic. Doubting the government’s intentions, Delta Company refuses to let Rhys go alone.

Fear of infection has kept Zach Houtman and his lover Nico Fernández apart for a decade. They meet rarely, just long enough to coordinate their spying on the head of the government’s virus research division. Secretary Littlewood is a vicious predator, and they suspect he’s trying to acquire the strain of the virus that would make him superhuman. To stop him, they need the perfect bait: Rhys.

For Rhys, helping them might cost him his relationship with Darius—or his life. For Zach and Nico, even if their plan succeeds, they still face the ultimate question: can infected and uninfected people ever live together safely?

Title: Bane
Author: Amelia C. Gromley
Other books by this author that we've reviewed: Juggernaut
Series: Strain
Other books in this series that we've reviewed: Strain, Juggernaut
Published by Riptide Publishing
Source: Publisher
Published: September 21, 2015
Genres: Apocalypse, Male Male Romance
Pages: 279
See the title at Goodreads
Purchase your copy: Amazon
Visit the Author's Website

Stars: five-stars
Flames: four-flames

Going in to Bane I was expecting the dark and dreadful circumstances of this world. Juggernaut and Strain have thoroughly prepared me for that. Bane is just as grim but there is finally a little bit of light at the end of this post pandemic tunnel. Amelia has brought the characters from Juggernaut and Strain together in this installment. Together they will put everything they have up  against the people that are continuing to bring what little is left of the world down.

The threads that were left unresolved with the other books in this series have been woven together and wrapped up quite nicely. Nothing of the resolution seemed rushed, too simple, or convenient. The suspense of how things could possibly work out held to the very end. Everything within the pages here seemed completely plausible and made perfect sense for this world.

Everything that Delta Company, and Zach and Nico come up against has been so dismal. Zach and Rhys come together under circumstances that neither wants to be in yet both know it is for the greater good of mankind. Darius and the rest of Delta Company do what they have always done and protect what is theirs, even when letting go of Rhys for the short amount of time that they must goes against everything they believe in. They see the good that Rhys can do for what is left of the population and hope that Zach wants what he claims to.

All of this makes for one amazingly intense read that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.

Favorite quote, Zach to Nico: “We lost ten years to this.”

Paranormal Romance

Hi, and welcome to the Bane blog tour!

I don’t think it’s any secret that a lot of readers, in the wake of reading Strain, wanted more of Darius and Rhys. Already by that point I was brainstorming the pre- and peri-apocalyptic story that would become Juggernaut, but the further along I got on that, the more I realized the situation Zach and Nico were in couldn’t be resolved in the timeframe of Juggernaut. They needed developments that would only make sense to happen after the events of Strain. The plot also required Rhys to have matured a great deal since the end of Strain. Altogether, it gave me a beautiful opportunity to bring closure and an HEA ending (or at least as close to one as you get at the end of the world) for both sets of protagonists.

Thus we have Bane.

Over the course of the Bane blog tour, I’ll be sharing a free post-Bane short story, Refuge. How far post-Bane? Well, you’ll have to read and see. Some developments that happen in Bane are referenced, but not in any great detail, which means the reader should only encounter a few very broad, non-specific spoilers. Obviously, though, it will be best enjoyed if you’ve read Bane already (and Bane, of course, is best enjoyed after Juggernaut and Strain.)

Refuge introduces us to three new characters, Kal, Billie, and perhaps my favorite, Zeus. It’s a completely sex-free story, so you’re safe reading it at work. If my nebulous thoughts on how to continue the Strain universe ever take shape, it’s very possible a lot of material in this short story will be folded into a larger plot with Kal and Billie as the protagonists, and if that happens, you’ll find the smut there.

Each day, at least one stop on the blog tour will contain a section of the story. These segments may end or begin a little abruptly or clumsily at times, as I tried to split them in such a way that no one section would be to long and cumbersome for a single stop on the blog tour. In its linear form, it would simply be a five chapter story. By the end of the tour, all the sections will have been posted. If you need to catch up, you can check out the blog tour page (linked above), or my website, or the “Extras” tab on the Bane product page at Riptide for sequential links to all the posts.

Anyone who follows along on the tour will qualify to win store credit at Riptide. To enter the drawing, leave a comment on this post including a way to contact you (email, Twitter, or Facebook.) Each stop along the blog tour that you visit offers you another chance to enter. Be sure to check the Riptide blog tour schedule for a complete list of other stops. The contest will close 9/26/15. Any entries made without a way to contact the winner will be invalidated, so please don’t forget to provide your email, or your Twitter or Facebook address.

Good luck, and enjoy Refuge!


*Author’s Note: Refuge is completely unedited and un-proofed. What you’re seeing here is essentially a first draft, and like any first draft, it often may be clumsy to read or contain extraneous world-building and info-dumping that would be trimmed and streamlined during the editing process. Actually, I kind of like sharing it with you this way, if for no other reason than to allow readers to see just how much world-building happens behind the scenes and in my head, but doesn’t ever actually make it onto the page.

And of course, there will be typos. Oh so many typos.

Refuge Day 5,


I’m going to tie this rope around you, and then I’ll go up the stairs first, so I can pull to give you some help getting up,” Kal explained.

Billie shook her head with more animation than he’d seen from her yet. “Stairs are rotten. Couldn’t risk them.”

“Good thinking.” He unwrapped the rope from his body. “It was hairy coming down, but that’s why we’ve got my trusty old rope here. I’m going to pull it taut and lean back some, which should put most the strain of supporting me on my arms and the doorjamb up there and not my weight on the stairs. As long as we do that and stay on the edges and not in the middle, we should be okay.”

“’Kay,” she mumbled, indistinctly enough that Kal began to suspect that if he didn’t hurry and get them warm, he’d be hauling her unconscious body up the disintegrating stairs. He quickly knotted the rope around her waist.

With the rope to pull on, getting up the stairs felt a lot less risky than going down them had. Billie struggled, though, even with Kal hauling on the rope. She swayed and lurched and nearly stumbled, and the stairs were creaking alarmingly, small snaps heralding the danger of large ones, by the time he got her to the top.

“Same deal now, Billie,” he coaxed. “Stick to the edges and walk slowly but don’t stand in one place too long. Walk as lightly as you can; no thumps or thuds. I’m going to go first again so that if you fall, I can haul you out. Don’t follow too close. We don’t want our combined weight in any one place. If you’re more than eighteen inches from the wall, you’re too far into the room. Got it?”

Billie nodded and he began carefully skirting the room toward the block of light streaming through the front door. They made it without anyone crashing through the floor again, and a moment later, Zeus emerged, dragging a mostly-empty rucksack with him. He didn’t return for the blanket Kal had spotted, though; obviously even the dog recognized it was useless for the purposes of keeping warm.

“Your bag, I take it?” Kal asked. Billie nodded mutely. Her skin was an alarming shade of gray-white now that she was in the light, her lips blue. Kal socked himself up under her shoulder again to support her before she fell over. “Come on. Let’s get away from these standing piles of kindling and build a fire.”

If he had to guess, it was past midday by the time they had set up camp somewhere he deemed safe to build a fire. Well, he had set up camp. Billie had sat there on Kal’s bedroll, swaddled in his coat and blankets, with Zeus pressed right up against her. Usually the dog didn’t care for sleeping under covers much, but he obviously intuited that he’d be more effective sharing his body heat with her without the layers between them.

Now that she was in the light, Kal could get a better look at her. Dirty blond hair was cropped painfully close to her skull, ragged, as though cut by someone who didn’t know what they were doing. Maybe a week’s worth of pale, sparse stubble caught the sunlight when she moved her head. She looked like she hadn’t been eating well for some time, her dust-smudged cheeks sunken. Bruise-like shadows darkened the underside of her eyes and her entire body swayed with weariness.

Kal kept up a running commentary in the hopes of helping her understand that she was safe with him; once they had gotten outside it became clear that she was nervous. She was unresponsive, for the most part, beginning to shiver once the heat of the fire reached her. Finally she managed faintly:

“Have you come to take me back?”


About the Author

Amelia C. Gormley published her first short story in the school newspaper in the 4thgrade, and since then has suffered the persistent delusion that enabling other people to hear the voices in her head might be a worthwhile endeavor. She’s even convinced her hapless spouse that it could be a lucrative one as well, especially when coupled with her real-life interest in angst, kink, social justice issues, and pretty men.

When her husband and son aren’t interacting with the back of her head as she stares at the computer, they rely on her to feed them, maintain their domicile, and keep some semblance of order in their lives (all very, very bad ideas—they really should know better by now.) She can also be found playing video games and ranting on Tumblr, seeing as how she’s one of those horrid social justice warriors out to destroy free speech, gaming, geek culture, and everything else that’s fun everywhere.

You can find her self-published Impulse trilogy almost anywhere ebooks are sold, and check out her catalog of Riptide Publishing releases at their website.



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