Genre: Sci-Fi, Romance
LGBTQ+ Category: Gay
Reviewer: Linda, Paranormal Romance Guild
About The Book
Variant children are vanishing at an alarming rate. It will take a uniquely mismatched pair of trackers to untangle a web of conspiracy and misdirection to find them.
In his isolated cabin, variant Damien Hazelwood avoids human contact as much as possible to prevent attacks of blind berserker panic. But his rare talent as a locator makes him the go-to contractor for tricky missing person’s cases and when agents bring him a troubling contract involving missing variant children, he finds it impossible to refuse.
Licensed tracker Blaze Emerson can’t help being irritated when he’s expected to follow the strange, twitchy locator’s lead on his latest case. He works alone, he’s damn good, and as a variant sparker, he has both the fire and the firepower to take on anything out there. Though he has to admit there’s something intriguing about a man who can find people with his brain.
With vastly different temperaments and backgrounds, Damien and Blaze need to negotiate quickly how to work together if they’re going to crack this case. Add in the sudden appearance of Blaze’s outlaw ex, the perils of tracking in the wilds, and a maddening lack of discernible motive or method, and they soon find themselves in as much danger as the kids they’re trying to rescue.
Variant Configurations takes place in a future Earth where humanity is reclaiming its spot in a gradually healing world. This book contains mentions of past abuse, action-adventure style mayhem, and the beginning sparks of a slow burn, series-spanning relationship.
Earth in the future is a troubled place – with plagues, out-of-control weather causing property damage and destroying crops causing starvation, wars and 80% of population wiped out. All of that’s scary, but the scariest thing is trying to convince myself that none of that is occurring now, and that our future will be a lot brighter.
In Martinez’s future Earth, the Fredamine Project has resulted in the births of variants – children born with various gifts – which not surprisingly has brought out the protestors. People insist on laws governing these children, from making them wear collars to having them locked away.
Damien Hazelwood is a rare variant with the ability to locate others, an ability that resulted in severe abuse as a child from an uncle who thought he could use Damien to locate precious items, never believing that he could only locate people.
Now forty variant children have gone missing from an academy, and Damien is assigned to find them. Damien has always isolated himself, as he is unable to tolerate people being near him, but he won’t turn down an assignment involving children.
Blaze Emerson is a private investigator – a variant and “sparker,” able to easily create fire. Damien is not happy about having a partner, but the assignment could be dangerous, and Blaze is the man for the job.
The two can barely tolerate each other. Blaze is angry at the world, and Damien has so many quirks, it’s hard to keep up. But somehow they manage to make it work. Despite their differences, Blaze becomes a buffer for Damien, and can hold him and even lay next to him.
The search for the children leads them to two dead ones – hopefully the rest of the kids are alive.
Before long they are joined by Shudder McKenzie, a known terrorist fighting for Variant rights and Blaze’s ex-boyfriend. And soon another disturbed variant who can create earthquakes joins in the search. The mission is filled with conflict, but despite that, they never take their eye off the ball.
What happens with the missing children and the three men is not something I will reveal in this review. So many things that the three rescuers face are scary, because what happens is not beyond the realm of possibility.
Let me just say, reading an Angel Martinez book is always soooo good. As a long time fan of her work, I can say her world building is one of the best. This book’s story line, with Damien, Blaze and Shudder, feels like a good sci-fi movie, dealing with what could happen and how these three handle it together.
Get me the popcorn while I wait for book two. Five stars.
I am an avid reader the mother of 3 sons and grandmother to seven grandchildren. Since retiring I have been doing more reading while volunteering as a CASA worker. CASA is an organization that works with the family court system to ensure that children are in the best living situation. There are way too many children that get overlooked in the foster care system and I visit homes and make visits to the parents. I was born and raised in New York and my husband of 50 years and I live in Upstate New York.
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