Cut by Lara Adrian
In this intense, suspenseful romance with a bit of supernatural intrigue at its core, I am delighted to say that Lara and Tina both provided us as readers with a superb new series! The first installment novella titled Cut, was very well-written with main characters Ethan and Tori as our hero and heroine. Ethan, of course, is at the center of the story, but we get to enjoy Tori’s POV as well. The story begins with Ethan cutting Tori loose without explanation; completely disappearing from her life. At the heart of the Ethan’s seemingly heartless abandonment of Tori is the Phoenix Program. A program in which psychically gifted men with ESP talents perform acts of prevention to halt terrorism via utilizing said talents (with premonitions).
The only problem is that despite knowing the risks as agents, none expected become completely non-existent or to end up on the run. As we come to find out, all agents were given a direct order to trust no one, and assume that Phoenix has been destroyed; that their director Henry Sheppard is dead. Obviously, danger is immanent for Ethan, and for other members of the Phoenix Program. Unfortunately for Ethan, he knows nothing of the other members due to the director requiring that no one loosed their identities.
I will say that I absolutely loved how Lara and Tina set up the secrecy factor of these books. We have not a clue as to how each member is brought together, how the hell they will save themselves, or how they are going to stop their visions of a future massive terrorist attack from occurring. So, without a doubt, we are constantly wondering how each of these stories weaves together and how they are going to end with our much wanted happily-ever-after. I can say that I loved Ethan for his ability to be honest no matter the circumstances. Furthermore, his gracious acceptance of his love for Tori was enchanting. Despite not experiencing any relationships throughout his childhood, or young adult life, and suffering abuse, he was able to be completely vulnerable and giving.
As for Tori, I loved that she never truly had reservations regarding her feelings for Ethan. Even when she first ran into him years post-disappearance, she never gave up on him. I see many female characters waffle between their feelings for the man they claim to be falling for, or believe they have already fallen in love with. I also see them as unsure of themselves at times, or always on the defensive about whether or not they can truly trust this man with their soul. Tori never did such a thing. Sure, she was wary and suspicious of Ethan, understandably, but she never doubted his moral values or qualities. Not to mention that she was such a brave woman with vinegar in her veins.
These two have great chemistry, and they stood by each other without provocation. After Ethan and Tori are discovered by an assassin, they embark on a journey to stay alive until Ethan is up to the task of killing the perpetrator. In the midst of their journey, Ethan learns to forgive his past, and accept his future while saving his own ass, and the woman he loves from death. Furthermore, he comes to the conclusion that after being on the run for years; he must find the other members of the Phoenix. Not only must he stop those who wish to kill him, but he must put the pieces of his nightmarish vision together to stop the final act of terror from coming to pass. Even better, he will find a way to keep Tori in his life, and by his side through the entire ride (happy dance)! Ultimately, this novella was amazing, and I could not wait to get to the second part Run.
Run by Tina Folsom
Now, if I thought I loved Cut, let me tell you that I was genuinely surprised to love Run even more! With that said, I only enjoyed this novella better simply because I wanted to claim Scott as mine more than Ethan (no joke). So, that can clearly be written off as a personal preference, and others may not feel the same. Of course, I am still going to explain why! Well, he is not the uber intelligent teacher with a naughty side like Ethan; Scott is just simply the bad boy in general! He is the mechanic; the greaser; the dark-haired mystery; and the ridiculously handsome I-know-more-than-you-so-don’t-challenge-me guy. Yes, indeed, I like those guys, and well, I am sure many ladies know what I mean! Okay, seriously though, Scott projects more of the tough guy image, and it appealed to me. With that said, when he becomes enamored by Phoebe and falls for her, he is the perfect man of your dreams.
Then, we throw in the danger, which is more intense in this book than the last. Naturally, the suspense builds further because it’s a continuance of the first novella (should go without explanation). This is why I feel compelled to mention my awe at how Lara and Tina brought both stories together, as well as brought Ethan with Tori into Scott and Phoebe’s dilemma. Initially, Scott is in hiding just as Ethan was. Then, because he is truly a good man with a conscience, he finds it necessary to save several children (and Phoebe) from being killed in a crash as he envisioned. Alas, using his powers brings him into focus to the public, thus causing him to be targeted by whoever is after the members of the Phoenix Program.
Phoebe, as a reporter needs to secure her job, and Scott is an undisclosed hero who disappeared from the scene. In her quest to find him and write her story, she finds herself falling for Scott after becoming a target unwillingly for the enemy. Now, the two are on the run, while Scott puts a plan in motion to decipher the vision that haunts him, and meet his nemesis head on. To turn an intense situation into a more hellish one, Scott finds his other half in Phoebe. So, when he sees her potential loss of life in the future he needs to protect her, while saving himself.
Despite so many questions without answers, Ethan was lucky enough to find Scott. With the two of them teaming up, and their women possibly by their side, how can they not win? I’ll say that the build-ups are absolutely great in this story. More importantly, they aren’t so over-the-top that we won’t be salivating for the grand finale when the final novels reach our outstretched hands. Furthermore, even the men had great chemistry. Maybe it is just me, but I like it when there is a bond formed between the heroes of the book, and you actually enjoy their interactions. So, hell yes for that!
Additionally, Scott and Phoebe are great for each other. After just a short time with Scott, Phoebe was able to completely forget about her story, her job, or the life she left behind because all she wanted was him. Furthermore, she was able to embrace Scott for who he was without hesitation. I can say that I liked Tori better than Phoebe though, mostly because she was more decisive and sure of herself. However, both women were tough, and ultimately gave all of themselves to their men.
Even better, they all worked together competently and efficiently; a real team with trust and friendship. After Ethan and Scott decide to find the other members together, and realize that they each hold a key to stopping the future cataclysmic disaster, we know the story is only going to get better. Best of all, each novella truly focuses only on the main characters and the battles they face. Whether the battles fought were personal, internal, or in connection with the mission at hand, the interactions and outcomes were outstanding. I cannot wait for what happens next!
Both stories were wonderfully written and executed well. I gave both five stars because I absolutely loved them both. I like Tori better than Phoebe because she seemed like a stronger female character to me. I liked Scott better than Ethan though, because I just enjoyed his personality better. Both plots were suspenseful in their own right, and each novella provided mystery. Furthermore, I enjoyed the conclusion to each. There were different aspects I liked better from each book. I thought there was more emotion between Ethan and his familial experiences growing up, but Scott was more fun to see grow as an individual. Therefore, despite the differences, I loved both equally. This is why I gave both a five star rating, especially since one must understand that each reader may likely have a different view than I, because every individual has their preferences. Thank you to Lara and Tina for these two fabulous stories!
**ARC provided by Author**
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