From the moment Stung opens with Victor squeezed between bodies in a cattle car, blindfolded and gasping for air, I knew this book would capture me. That it did! Stung is a suspense/thriller but don’t be fooled because there are plenty of romantic moments and displays of human strength.
Stung takes place in 1907, post plague and debut of zombies. I love the integration of Victorian society with the cannibalistic nature of zombies. We have the refined and the undead! There’s also different leadership in the form of a mob family, The Dal’s, are the rulers in Bylondon. It’s almost dystopian! Or maybe just an altered history. Either way, it pulled me in and held me hostage!
Victor finds himself in a Dal owned prison camp, Honeyhill, after offending one of the members of the family. He steps off the cattle car and into a harsh, brutal world. A world of work camp labor, starvation and filth. Don’t forget the guards who are all too happy to deliver a beating or make a prisoner’s life more hellish. Did I mention the zombies along the fence? No? The work camp is in a forest and all around the perimeter fences are hungry zombies just waiting for a worker to take a chance and flee. Intense, yes?!
It just so happens Victor catches sight of a handsome guard, Crunch. Lucky for Victor, Crunch happens to be interested in Victor too. In order to survive Victor knows he must align himself with someone because he is more delicate, being of high society prior to his ‘arrest.’ Crunch seems the best choice but Victor isn’t sure who to trust or what to think. He does known that he is not suited for this type of life and will surely not make it very long without help.
It isn’t long before Crunch and Victor begin to rely on each other to get through the hard times. Even though Crunch is a hard-nosed guard, something is different about him. Crunch harbors a HUGE secret. He is part of the Humanist resistance and is taking incredible risks to help liberate the camp. He doesn’t enjoy being hard on the prisoners but his cover cannot be blown this close to liberation. Unfortunately, Victor’s appearance makes both jobs much harder.
Even with the horrors of a work camp, forced labor, torture and emotional stress (and zombies, don’t forget the zombies) I still feel this is a love story. There is a true connection between Victor and Crunch. Their witty rapport when they are together is perfection. It’s like they know their time together is short each meeting so they capture each moment and make the most of it. Witty banter. Sultry talk. Sensual touches. Passionate kisses. The sex is caring and downright salacious. They’re so perfect together I wanted them to find a way to be inseparable! I kept thinking they could run off together and both join the resistance…if not for those pesky zombies lurking around the camp perimeter!
As if zombies weren’t enough we have a wicked guard who sets his sights on Victor, a strange buzzing in the camp and a possible revolt. All to keep me on my toes wondering what will happen and who will make it out alive!
Victor is really pushed to his limits in Stung. He’s accustom to a posh life, not wanting for anything. Now he’s doing hard labor and getting two meager meals a day. He is filthy and sunburned. He is overworked and feeling weak. Victor is a singer and manual labor was not part of his normal life. His pretty looks and high society ways are detrimental to his survival in the camp. What attracts Crunch positively attracts others negatively. Victor has to find an inner strength that I think even surprises himself. There is one scene between him and Crunch where Victor has to be strong and take on something physically and emotionally trying. He takes initiative, stays calm and is a pillar of strength. At that moment we see Crunch’s vulnerability and Victor’s immense fortitude. It’s a role reversal that is absolutely beautiful to watch unfold. That is a game changer and we experience more surprises from Victor afterward.
Stung is part of the Zombie Gentlemen series but as with the other books within the series it is a standalone book. With each book more of the world is revealed. We also get to experience various genres with each book! How exciting is that?! The next release for Zombie Gentlemen is The Copper Horse, a captive/slavery, BDSM, erotica. That vastly differs from Stung, a suspense/thriller romance! It takes all kinds to make a world go ’round.
RATING: BAD ASS (SWEET AS HONEY) STILETTOS!!