Title: ONCE UPON A DARKNESS
Author: Aria Kane
Format: Paperback, 148 Pages
Published: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 17, 2013)
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
Source: Gifted by author during a panel at the Coastal Magic Convention
Rating: 4 out of 5 Wine Glasses
Gretchen and her twin brother, Hank, were abandoned to a zombie horde when they were five years old. Intended to be a sacrifice by their zealot parents, they were instead rescued by The Company. Raised to become soldiers in the war against zombies, they now provide safe passage through danger zones, one contract at a time.
Clint's only skill is war, but he's weary of killing other men. When his contract with the Marines runs out, he takes a job on Gretchen's team, hoping that the search-and-rescue life will suit him better.
On Clint's second day, their four-man team is attacked, drugged, and taken to a prison full of frightened civilians. The only way in or out is by helicopter and, here, their enemies are human. One by one, the captives are culled from the holding area. Rumors say the facility director uses the prisoners as experimental subjects for the testing of a zombie cure.
When Hank is taken, Clint and Gretchen must put aside their personal feelings and find a way out of the prison, surrounded by thousands of starving zombies, before Hank becomes just one more disposable guinea pig in the hands of a twisted mad woman.
"What are you, Zombie Slayer Barbie?" Clint knew the words were a mistake before they left his lips.
She crossed her arms across her chest. He tried to keep his eyes from following them.
The big man in the back barked a laugh. "You'll pay for that one."
ONCE UPON A DARKNESS by Aria Kane is an emotional and gripping zombie apocalyptic survivalist tale interspersed with perfectly timed witty humor. AND it includes a sweet, heated romance that meshed perfectly with the intense nature of the story. I've been eyeing it since I got back from the Coastal Magic Convention with it happily ensconced within all the goodies I'd collected from there. I honestly didn't know what to expect when I started it today, but it grabbed my attention immediately and didn't release its hold until I'd read through to the ending. If I had any complaint, it was that I didn't want it to end!
Gretchen, our kickass heroine, and Hank, her brainy brother, have not had an easy life since their parents left them to die. Thankfully, they were rescued instead and were the initial members of a highly trained team that executes seemingly impossible rescue missions into areas overrun by zombies. The team has since been enhanced by big man Erik and ex-Marine hottie, Clint. While on a pseudo-mission, the team is thrown into a desperate, seemingly hopeless situation. I kept my hopes up by silently repeating over and over 'when the going gets tough, the tough get going' and 'only the strong survive'... they qualify with both.
I really liked all the characters, but I especially loved the sparks that flew between Gretchen and Clint. I hope the author considers writing more books set in this world. I'd like to read more about Hank because I have a soft spot for nerds, and Erik, who reminded me of a strong teddy bear..
Following please find a few of my favorite quotes from this read:
"I'm going to kiss you."
He was giving her one last chance to back out, to push him away. That was not going to happen.
Her mouth twisted with amusement. "Not if I kiss you first."
"Not a single person has ever escaped?"
"Only if you count death as an escape."
"I'm going to cook you a dinner, which we'll eat by candlelight. Roses, wine, witty banter, the whole first-date deal."
Everywhere he touched, her skin tingled with the promise of more. Feeling a soft breeze brush across her skin, she glanced toward the common room and flashed him a wicked smirk. "A bedroom with a door?"
"Mmmhmmm," he murmured as he tilted his head toward her, smirking. "I hadn't realized you were so high maintenance."
This book is perfect for fans of the Walking Dead or any of the movies featuring young, hot heroes surviving against seemingly impossible odds. Be prepared for your heart rate to escalate in the zombie scenes AND with the sweet and heated romance. The story kept me biting my nails with bated breath for what was coming as I turned each page. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys sexy, romantic, action-packed, teeming-with-danger apocalyptic stories.