REVIEW: Wanted and Wired by Vivien Jackson
A rip-roarin’ new snarky, sexy sci-fi paranormal romance series with the perfect balance of humor, heat, and heart. Now that Texas has seceded and the world is spiraling into chaos, good guys come in unlikely packages and love sprouts in the most inconvenient places…
Rogue scientist • technologically enhanced • deliciously attractive
Heron Farad should be dead. But technology has made him the man he is today. Now he heads a crew of uniquely skilled outsiders who fight to salvage what’s left of humanity: art, artifacts, books, ideas-sometimes even people. People like Mari Vallejo.
Gun for hire • Texan rebel • always hits her mark
Mari has been lusting after her mysterious handler for months. But when a by-the-book hit goes horribly sideways, she and Heron land on the universal most wanted list. Someone set them up. Desperate and on the run, they must trust each other to survive, while hiding devastating secrets. As their explosive chemistry heats up, it’s the perfect storm…
Dear Ms Jackson,
After I requested the second book in this series, I decided I’d better go back and start at the beginning. Turns out that was a good idea. The “in media res” beginning thrusts us into a world that hasn’t been explained yet. This requires the reader to just “go with it” and hope for explanations later on.
Mari is a skilled assassin who takes jobs “killing” mechanized targets. She does balk at killing Organics, though. More on all this later. Mari’s current job goes spectacularly wrong leaving her back up helper convinced that she’s been set up. She has more reasons than money for doing this job since she was promised information about her missing father who, as the story progresses, is shown as a grade-A jackass. But he’s her only kin so of course Mari will go all martyr to save him despite how many times he all but emotionally kicked her in the teeth.
Mari and Heron obviously have issues in their pasts which will take a long time to be revealed and issues with each other which will also be dragged out but what is known from the start is that Heron feels that Mari disdains anyone who has been augmented. In this future world it appears that humans can be the equivalent of All Organic, Modified, or basically totally synthetic like McDonalds French fries which are so pumped full of chemicals that they will never degrade. There is lots of mech-ism wherein All Organics sneer at the modifieds.
But this modified hero can sure whip out some super-duper do-dads and gadgets when danger to Mari requires it. Heron seems to be more modified than human at this point and can use his abilities to get them out of almost any dangerous corner they get backed into which ultimately really drains most of suspense from the book.
There’s also lots of hints of Blade Runner-esque stuff including a sorta virtual reality woman character. This is a dark futuristic “the world has gone to hell and is a slag heap” setting and Texas being used as the punching bag – Don’t Mess With Texas taken to a new level.
Mari’s personality is such that her response to her assassination job is the need to come down afterwards by engaging in a lot of emotionally meaningless sex. Okay, I’m actually fine with that as the “fight, flight or fuck” syndrome is well known. Heron, who we know from the get-go obviously lurves her to bits, has known this and it eats at him because he wants to be the one she has lots of sex with. Meanwhile Mari does want lots of sex with Heron but doesn’t know he reciprocates her feelings. This goes on continuously for the first half of the book with them being chased and in danger so Mari never comes down off her adrenaline-rush-gotta-fuck high.
Seriously, this “does he?” “does she?” goes on in every scene. It slows the action at times to a crawl as the inner thoughts of both characters are trotted out ad nauseam and brings to mind all the “inappropriately timed sex” scenes decried in romantic suspense books. Mari, get your mind off your crotch for a few minutes and get out of danger then you can get back to the lusting and teasing Heron who can be plugged into devices and thus “feel” any wiggles or stroking moves that Mari makes with or on them. And Mari makes a lot. Once they do get physical, they fuck like a thousand bunnies on steroids.
Oh but wait, Heron has loved Mari for years or so we’re told but has kept his emotions rigidly controlled so she won’t know it because of the whole mech-ism that Mari has. Mari has never felt truly loved for herself, only grudgingly accepted for her hit woman skills so when she (finally) senses that Heron might have actual feelings for her she goes all gooey. So why does he love her? And does she actually love him or just the idea that someone loves her? Honestly I wasn’t convinced of why Heron has loved Mari for years with the heat of 10,000 stars and after the revelation about her past, not convinced about hers for him.
As the first book in a series, there is a lot of World Building to lay out. Info is repeatedly dumped in small quantities but even then I’m not quite sure what exactly is going on for a lot of the time. Each bit revealed only seems to make the water murkier. Even after I finished the book, I was still unsure about some things which I guess will be covered in the next one. C-