I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
With a deadly disease unleashed on the world, Lynne, the former head of the CDC (Center for Disease Control) is on the run. Known as "Blue Heart" because after contracting the Scorpius disease, experiments on her to find a cure have colored her heart and the veins surrounding it blue, Lynne is trying to make it to a clinic known as "Myriad" and hope the rumors are true and a cure is there. Running from her ex-boyfriend, who is now the President of the United States, she looks for help from Jax Mercury. He was a Delta Force soldier who gathered a group of people together to try and survive against the illness, Rippers (people who have been turned into serial killers by the disease), and other survivors. Food is scarce but trust is even rarer in this time, Lynne and Jax are going to need a lot of the former if they're going to survive.
As book one in a new romantic suspense apocalyptical series, this started off into the action right away, so much so I felt pretty lost for most of the beginning. There is apparently a novella that actually starts off the series and begins the world building in regards to the deadly disease Scorpius being discovered, unleashed, and its effect on the world. I would highly suggest reading that first so you don't feel as left behind as I did reading this one. As the story went on I was able to get a better handle on the current world setting but unfortunately, this didn't happen until well into the second half. The disease and how it affects everyone, some die, some survive to become carriers, and some become Rippers was a little muddled. The Rippers and their different sociopathic tendencies, some become serial killers and some thoughtless rabid beasts seemed like too much variation for a 300+ novel, all the ideas aren't fully flushed out. However, as this looks to be a building continuous series, maybe in later books the ideas introduced here will become more fully formed.
Lynne's part in the Scorpius disease as the head of CDC was another part I never felt like all the dots connected, but again, reading the novella could help here as she is introduced in that one. There was more telling of her toughness, escaping her imprisonment and making her way across what is left of the United States to Jax in L.A. but not a lot of showing. In fact, a lot of instances happen "off screen" with characters talking about them later. Her game plan of partnering with Jax, specifically because she heard about him on the news before things really fell apart, felt somewhat forced but lucky her, he turned out to be super hot. Jax had more of a backstory than what is usually afforded typical alpha heroes but his character, too, felt forced. The added in minor BDSM play in the bedroom felt obligatory for what the current market wants. They did have good interplay with each other but there was a lot happening in this story to interrupt them.
The story leaned a lot on the sexual side; there are many bedroom scenes in the beginning and middle. I didn't feel a connection between our leads, insta-attraction that morphs into insta-lust are the basis for their relationship, and so, I found them more filler than engaging. There were a plethora of secondary characters, Jax's medic friend Tace, the mysterious Raze, the possibly psychic little girl Lena, Cruz who heads the rival gang Twenty, Lynne's ex-boyfriend and president of the United States Bret, and many more. Jax's fighting Cruz for resources and because of an old feud and Lynne's trying to find a cure for Scorpius while running from Bret, all this with the end of the world theme made for a very busy book with nothing being able to fully be focused on. The story appeared to be fighting with itself as to if it wanted to be a romance, suspense, or end of days book; the parts weren't always cohesive.
The concept of a deadly disease wiping out ninety-nine percent of the population and the aftermath is intriguing and parts of the world building are here for that but there were a lot of half formed and dangling threads, too. This has many high ratings; I'm the dissenting voice on this one, so read the novella and maybe give this a try if looking for a more sexual apocalyptic story. The hero and heroine who star in the second book are introduced here and their story does look to be interesting.