Oct 11, 12
Read from September 26 to 29, 2012
Can a sociopath find love?
As with the occasional book, I find myself incapable of summarizing FROM THE ASHES any better than the book's own blurb. Which in this rare case is truly fortunate!
Something I've been seeking but find difficult to get in my science fiction based romances is one featuring protagonist characters that aren't all heterosexual—or caucasian for that matter—without all the fluff and dogma associated with forcing them into gay and lesbian labeling. On a personal level I can enjoy sexual pairings that don't mirror my own preferences but have found it difficult to find a read that wasn't overly in-your-face about it. After all, shouldn't a love story... a romance novel... be focused on two parties (regardless of gender) finding a happily ever after together? Keeping that in mind FROM THE ASHES was actually my first m/m romance read and I owe Sanders a debt of gratitude for being able to write Tobias' story in such a way that was so organic and true, that I loved it.
As a character, Tobias is fascinating and a narrator I could quickly liken to Dexter (of the television series, as I haven't read the books). He's a monster in his own rite, yet manages to have a way of justifying his choices not to commit crimes when it should be the opposite that's both chilling and makes it hard not to like him. I found Sean a little bit harder to resolve my feelings about, the persona he puts on as a professor contradicts his private self making it easy to keep reading in hopes of uncovering his secrets. Their attraction is a bit illicit for a multitude of reasons but ultimately drives the heart of Tobias' growth from villain to potential hero.
It is a very rare book that captures my attention so well I let hours pass without noticing and I found myself realizing I was at the climax of the action not knowing I'd read almost the entirety of FROM THE ASHES in one sitting. I very much enjoyed the moral dilemma of the abberants... if you were told you couldn't be anything other than the monster does that make it so? It's an engrossing plotline that I hope spans into additional stories, perhaps not featuring Tobias and Sean, but other aberrants and humans.
If, like myself, you enjoy science fiction and superhero-ish type romances where neither race nor sexual orientation matter as long as there's a great plot and two people falling in love I highly recommend FROM THE ASHES. It certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea but it's engrossing in a comic bookish way and satisfying as a romance. If the steam level is a concern—and I'll sheepishly admit I was kind of afraid I'd be uncomfortable with the m/m love scenes—I'll say that Sanders handles the 'fading to black' style with graceful flourish and there's nothing truly more notable than a lot of kissing. Maybe the die-hard m/m readers will find it lacking in the hardcore details of more erotic stories but as a romance I found it gave just enough.
***Review copy received via publisher.