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Deep in a secret compound, the government is experimenting with cloning to create a new, non-human kind of soldier, a killing machine who automatically follows orders and operates without the drawback of emotions or conscience. When they created the R-series of soldier, though, something went wrong. Only after the R-series was groomed for field work did the project leaders discover that evolution had started, and the “men” were developing the ability to think and reason for themselves. Bad clone! When R-49 disobeys the order to assassinate a U.S. Senator and then runs, he’s marked as a rogue and hunted down.
Scott Reynolds, alias R-49, uses every trick he’s been taught to elude the new and improved V-series soldiers who are after him. Wounded, he breaks into an apartment to find new clothing, food and something to bind his injuries. He crosses wires in the stereo system to create electronic noise that will mask the tracking bug implanted in his lower back and hopes for a few moments rest while planning how to find the doctor who performed the cloning. Only he has the knowledge and clout to shut down the compound. It’s Scott’s bad luck that the apartment’s occupant comes home before he’s ready to leave. Even worse for him, she’s a sexy, gutsy, intelligent woman who awakens feelings in him he has no idea how to handle. Around this woman, Scott feels decidedly human, and that’s a problem.
The last thing Rachel MacKenzie expects to find in the corner of her bedroom is a gorgeous hunk of a man. When he tackles her, she fears for her life, but then she gets a good look in his eyes and realizes this man is not a rapist or killer. A nurse, she redresses his wounds and then sits back warily to see what happens next. She first balks when Scott insists she drive him somewhere he can access the Internet, but she goes along. Something about Scott tells her that inside the big hulk of the warrior is a confusion and naiveté no one would suspect. She’s drawn to him like to a warm puppy in the pound, despite his trying to act like a junkyard dog ready to rumble.
Scott doesn’t want to compromise Rachel’s apartment any more than he already has, so he threatens her to get to a mall, somewhere there’s anonymity and where he can use the Internet to find out more about Dr. Steinberg’s location. From out of nowhere, two other warriors confront him. He pushes Rachel away, telling her to go home, that she will be safe now, and he leads the men out of the way.
If Rachel’s free to go, why oh why does she return from the parking lot to where Scott’s battling it out with the two others, in order to warn him of even more huge, dangerous-looking guys who are approaching? To her surprise, the two men who are trading punches with Scott are his friends, other R-series soldiers who have escaped the compound in order to help him. They gather Rachel and make their escape, racing to
Scott and his pals, Xao and Kyle, are strong and brave, Rachel is headstrong and resourceful, but will they be a match for the V-series warriors? Then there are Scott’s unfamiliar, emerging feelings for Rachel. He’s just a clone, but is he real man enough to win her love?
The premise of warrior clones in A REAL MAN is very interesting. I loved the way Ann Lory portrayed Scott as a full-grown man but with the curiosity and insecurities of a bumbling teen on his first date, wanting to reach first base but not knowing where it is or how to get there. His efforts to win Rachel over are endearing, as are Xao and Kyle as they give free advice on what women like—something they know as little about as Scott. Rachel, a woman of mixed race, is strong without being too pushy. This is a book in which the heroes and villains couldn’t be more clearly drawn. A REAL MAN is a good opening salvo in THE REAL MEN trilogy.
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