Apparently, I picked up a freebie copy of Brie McGill‘s Kain way back in 2013. It’s one of the books I unearthed when I went through all my ebooks recently.
Description from Goodreads:
Beaten to a pulp, drugged into a daze, and brainwashed into oblivion, human experiment Lukian Valentin gambles his life to evade another eviscerating afternoon with his trigger-happy superiors. Fifty stories of a maximum-security building and hundreds of trained special operatives can’t hold a candle to his will to escape. Beyond the laser bars of his holding cell, Lukian must surmount the even greater challenges of repairing the fragments of his broken mind, forgiving himself for his unwilling involvement with the Empire, and learning what it means to live on his own.
The sassy and commanding Naoko Nai wonders just what to do with the soft-spoken, socially awkward, and totally ripped guy she was assigned to train for employment. She knows nothing else about him, other than the fact he was granted asylum, is great with a knife, and his little white apron gives her distinctly unprofessional thoughts.
When the Empire comes to collect, Naoko unwittingly provides the perfect bait to reel Lukian back to headquarters for a fresh series of brain implants and repair.
To save the woman he loves, Lukian must summon the deadly powers implanted in him by the Empire–powers he fears he can’t control, powers he struggled to forgive himself for using, powers that may drive Naoko away forever–because no ordinary man has struck a blow against the Empire and lived to tell the tale. To save Naoko, Lukian must emerge victorious from the battle against himself.
I picked this up thinking it was a paranormal romance (or sci-fi romance). You know, supersoldier romance, wherever that falls. It is not. Not at all. The only romance in it serves the cliched and disappointing role of allowing for ridiculously long and out of place sex scenes and providing the male protagonist motivation to act. That’s it. There are two female characters of note, one of which is barely a side character and the nympho girlfriend who literally has no character development outside of the bedroom and nice tits.
The book started out well. Once I’d accepted it wasn’t a romance, I thought it was lining up to be a smart and interesting sci-fi with themes of autonomy and self-determination. Then the whole thing spiraled into pseudo-mysticism (including several loooong visions), purple prose, and supersoldiers that don’t manage to be particularly super. What’s more, the supersoldiers literally did things like let the villain (who are caricatures, at best) monologue, pause, dig a syringe out of a drawer, inject themselves, put on a pair of gloves and reenter the fight. There were several (several!) ways and times that the villains could of and should have been disposed of and they just kept letting them come back to try and kill them again. It was ridiculous.
I did appreciate the side characters. Sven, J.J., and Rue (who all seemed to get more camp as the book went along) are probably the only reason I actually finished it.
Mostly, however, the book is just too long. I’d say a full hundred pages could have been cut and it would have been a better book. On a side note, that cover makes it look like the woman is the creepy, sexual molesting doctor, not the girlfriend (that I assume it’s meant to be).