Title: Tin Man
Author: Lisa Henry, Heidi Belleau
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: July 20, 2015
Genre(s): Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction
Page Count: 134
Reviewed by: Jewel
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.3 stars out of 5
Petty thief Ashoka “Ace” King knows better than to get in the way of Tophet’s Anti-Terrorist Unit. Rightfully feared in Tophet’s crime-ridden underbelly, a face-to-face encounter with an ATU is almost certainly a death sentence. But Ace has never been one to follow the rules.
Soren Lau might be an ATU rookie, but he’s not naive enough to believe everything his superiors tell him. Then again, he’s not stupid enough to disobey them, either. If he doesn’t shoot and kill as ordered, he might be next on their list.
But when Soren meets Ace, a moment’s hesitation is all it takes to put both their lives on the line. They don’t know each other, they don’t trust each other, and there’s no way in hell they can both walk away from this alive. But with suspicion and mortal danger mounting against both of them—and the forbidden attraction blazing between them—there’s nothing they can do but try.
Tin Man is the second book in the Bliss universe. In Bliss, we’re painted a vivid picture of a very Stepford type community. Clean air, no crime, everybody’s happy, etc. Of course, none of that was really true, it was mostly propaganda and some very sinister acts on the part of members of the government.
In Tin Man, we’re given the story of Tophet, Beulah’s trashy neighbor. Here, there is, indeed crime and poverty, and something very like Marshall Law has been instituted. And, of course, like Beulah, we have a government run amok. They are labeling their homeless as terrorists and having their Anti-Terrorist Unit(ATU) kill them in the streets. Lovely place, that.
Soren is a young recruit. He was conscripted into the ATU, which he was initially happy about because it gave him some job security and a chance to do good. He didn’t know that the ATU was being used to get rid of general undesirables and since he started to figure that out, he feels a tremendous amount of guilt. What choice does he have, though? If he gets labeled a subversive, then it puts his whole family in jeopardy. And Soren has secrets, too. He is gay, with a streak of a humiliation kink. The gay is a crime punishable by death.
Ace is a petty thief. He’s been on the streets about 10 years, or so, since his father was imprisoned for trying to create a union at his job. Ace gets by. He’s not violent and really only wants to survive it all. Everyone knows the ATU are killing the undesirables in the city and Ace just wants to avoid them. That chance encounter with Soren is not what he needs to stay below the radar. But what’s done is done. Now they just have to get through it.
One night, while out on patrol, Soren encounters Ace and, when given the kill order, he hesitates and ends up chasing Ace through an abandoned and crumbling building. That hesitation puts Soren on a path he didn’t think he’d find himself on and he’s faced with seeing the people his government has labeled “terrorists” as – people. Ace also sees that not all ATU soldiers are killing machines. Seeing each other as “people”, though, is a dangerous proposition and one wrong move could end in death for one or both of them.
For such a short book, I felt a decent amount of world building was done. And you don’t have to read Bliss first, though that will give you a broader picture of what can happen when a government takes too much control. Paint a bright and shiny picture or a dark and dirty one, the people are not free.
Tin Man was not a long enough of a story to get an HEA, and I wouldn’t have likely believed it if we were given it. We do get a strong HFN, however, which I very much liked.
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