As I mentioned in a recent review, for a Dreamspinner title, again I was attracted to Escape from CONICA by the blurb. This seems obvious, but many stories are undersold or ignored by a badly written or lacklustre synopsis for their book. In these days of ebooks, where hundreds maybe thousands of new books are being released everyday, it is vital that a title’s blurb is interesting and accurate. This new release’s blurb lead me to an author I had never read before.
Author: ROBERT CUMMINGS
Publisher: DREAMSPINNER PRESS
My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
From the Publisher:
In an America that achieved equality long before our own, Phillip Barcardi works as a security contractor. He’s hired as a site commander at a major pharmaceutical company, only to be kidnapped from his post after learning the truth about an aggressive virus spreading across the East Coast, one that targets homosexuals. A small group of wealthy and powerful dissenters are hell-bent on forming a “New World Order” that will remold society into their twisted vision. As US citizens are choosing sides for or against homosexuals, Phil’s husband, Theodore Rosenberg, a high school teacher, is sent to a “containment” zone where accused homosexuals are infected rather than saved—all by executive order of the President. As Ted struggles to understand what’s happening around him, Phil strives to break free before the people in power infect Ted with the deadly virus. No matter what it takes, Phil will fight his way to Ted, even if it means exposing himself to the virus. He only hopes he won’t be too late to save them both.
I liked most of Escape from CONICA and I don’t mean to damn with faint praise. I enjoyed the story, yes it had a good plot line. This fact alone made me a happy reviewer. You may think this is a requirement, but it is not in this age when ebooks are published with such speed and few checks. The main protagonists, Phil and Ted (though I had to admit, I kept calling them Bill and Ted in my head must be an age thing), are well written and believable gay men. Another bug bear of mine, as so many m/m romances are, in fact, m/f romances with altered genitalia. I liked the characters although Ted was a bit of a drama queen and tended to cry at everything, he was sweet as well and proved himself a devoted friend.
These two men live in an alternate universe where homosexuality has been enshrined into the U.S. constitution as an equal/normative form of relationship with equal marriage traditions and rights. Additionally, homophobia is totally unacceptable, possibly illegal and a hate crime. This status quo is part of history, so Phil and Ted are just a normal suburban family with a ‘fur baby’ dog called Bailey. At the beginning of Escape from CONICA they have been married for five years and are blissfully happy. They have gay friends and straight friends, their closest being a lesbian family with three children, an idyllic life despite the normal worries about money and careers.
However, even in the most perfect seeming societies there are hate groups, small minded people and those who crave power whatever laws and rights are enacted. The story follows a plan, by a powerful secret, pseudo religious, right wing group called The Sons of Sion, to takeover the United States government. Their plan involves eradicating homosexuality and homosexuals by the use of a virus, which kills those with an ‘active’ homosexual gene. The conspiracy and actions of those involved, for most of this work, are chillingly believable. Plus, although made extreme for fiction, the normal citizen’s reactions are also highly credible.
There is some delicious irony regarding AIDS part in the conspiracy. Likewise, the events surrounding the media’s role in publicising details about the ‘homosexual virus’ and its ‘reception’ were reminiscent of the AIDS backlash in the 1980’s. There are a couple of sex euphemisms, which didn’t work for me but I enjoyed the writing style in the main.
This would have been a 5* read for me except that it was lessened by a couple of things; firstly, the resolution of the story was rushed and this lead to simplistic solutions. The length and complexity of the story deserved a more balanced and complex resolution than we are given. Additionally, and I don’t know if the author intends a sequel, the ending was a HFN or more accurately a maybe HFN, which left this reader a bit unsatisfied after enjoying the story very much.
I recommend this read to anyone who likes a good conspiracy plot, believable characters with believable loves and lives. Strange I found these in an alternate world.
I would like to thank Dreamspinner Press for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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