Hero for Hire (Tales from Beyond the End #1) by Merissa McCain & Margaret Madigan
Release Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Paranormal Romance
One day her prince would come…disguised as a zombie-killer.
Having been disgraced and tossed out by her own scientific community, Gwyn is convinced she can develop a cure for a SuperVirus that has turned the Infected into zombies. By pure luck and determination, she has survived on her own for years, but while out scavenging, a clash with the local zombies leaves her potentially infected. Now, running out of time, she needs help and takes a chance on a hero for hire.
Rafe loves the apocalypse. Since the world went to hell, everything’s come up roses for him. Having procured a mansion in the Hollywood hills, adopted a slew of homeless boys and one cantankerous but useful Doc, Mr. Charming is benefiting from the nasty zombie infestation. His job? Killing the bastards, which he considers fun anyway.
Gwyn Snow needs Rafe Charming to help retrieve her research from the Paragon Pharmaceuticals lab, also known as Zombie Central. Believing she can yet save the world, Gwyn makes Rafe question what’s right and what’s worth the fight.
CONTENT WARNING: Prince Charming, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves as you’ve never seen them before.
A Lyrical Press Paranormal Romance | Once Upon
Hero for Hire is a fast-paced, quick, and entertaining read that combines elements of the classic fairytale, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs with a zombie apocalypse. The authors have created archetypal characters that most of us are familiar with who have become survivalists in the aftermath of a wide-spread outbreak that turns those infected into zombies.
It’s hard to miss the allusions to Snow White throughout the plot. The princess (as Rafe Charming calls her) is Gwyn, a scientist at Paragon Pharmaceuticals who’s determined to find a cure for the virus. Her efforts are thwarted when her arch nemesis, Miriam, steals Gwyn’s notes and then uses Gwyn as a scapegoat after Miriam’s modified antidote fails. After being banished from what is dubbed as the “zombie center” Gwyn continues her scientific work in an abandoned lab, only leaving when necessary to forage for supplies.
Gwyn blames herself for her failure to save the infected, those once human who now aimlessly roam the city searching for prey to sate their bloodlust. After a life-threatening attack, Gwyn realizes that she will never make any progress in finding a cure without help. This damsel-in-distress finds her way to Rafe Charming, a “hero for hire” safely tucked away behind an impenetrable fortress where he provides a safe haven for orphaned children and gets support from Doc, the epitome of the “wise old man” who aids the hero and heroine by providing sage advice and backup when needed.
At first Rafe appears to be a hardened, dispassionate man with who is only concerned with what will benefit him. He demands some type of payment from Gwyn before he will help her. Since Gwyn has nothing of material value for Rafe, he suggests a more intimate form of payment. However, it becomes obvious that Rafe is much more than the man he appears to be, as he and Gwyn successfully negotiate a deal for the greater good of humanity.
Expect lots of drama and danger as both Rafe and Gwyn risk their lives in their quest to find the stolen journals that Gwyn is certain will help her find a way to halt or even reverse the virus. There are numerous battle scenes with zombies, although these scenes aren’t very gory, a romance that develops quickly and includes a very sexy love scene, all of which reiterate the point that life is a precious gift and should be cherished every day. The pivotal point in the story occurs when Gwyn is reunited with Miriam, and just like in the fairytale, this wicked queen of the zombie center has looked into the mirror and found that she is far from the fairest of them all. Her shocking transformation adds to the increasing danger and suspense as Rafe searches for a way to save his princess before it’s too late.
I do wish the plot was more elaborate and allowed for greater character development instead of the flat, stock characters typically found in fairytales. Overall, though, I appreciated the authors’ creativity and their departure from relying upon the stereotypical traits often associated with zombies.
I received a copy of this book from the author to provide an honest review.
Get to Know Gwyn and Rafe
Hi Gwyn and Rafe,
Thanks for stopping by to visit Sun Mountain Reviews. Since you’re here, I do have a few questions I’d like to ask—do you mind?
Gwyn: Not at all. That’s why we’re here, right Rafe?
Rafe: You bet.
Barbara Ann: Great! I’m curious—before your story began, before the apocalypse, what were your hopes for the future? And follow up question—how have they changed now?
Gwyn: “Well, for me things are very different. Of course, I imagine everyone you ask would say the same. I was a scientist before all this. I still am, but that isn’t what I mean. I was ONLY a scientist. I lived for my work. Nothing else mattered, and I had no one in my life that mattered more to me than the science. My hope was to find ways to use pharmaceuticals to prevent Alzheimer’s. Now—there’s just no way. My scientific focus has shifted to curing the Infected. But, my hopes include much more than that. I hope to see our boys grow up strong and safe. I hope to watch the gray grow into Rafe’s hair. I hope to help rescue the Infected, one vaccine at a time. Science is still important to me, but I have other priorities now that I didn’t have before.
Rafe: Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. It’s gonna be years before my hair turns gray. Before the apocalypse, I hadn’t really made any long term plans. I was living the high life in Hollywood. I got paid well to get hit, jump off buildings, run through fire – anything a movie required that insurance companies wouldn’t let the big stars do. But I was kind of a selfish dick. I know it’s shocking to learn that Hollywood had that affect on people. Now? Well, I’m still an adrenaline junkie, but I’ve learned how important people are – family especially. If you’d asked me about love before I would have laughed it off as soft and worthless. I’ve learned, though, that love gives you strength, gives you something to hope for and fight for. It’s a foundation for everything. I’m a luckier man now than I ever would have been if the apocalypse hadn’t have happened.
Barbara Ann: Your lives were obviously very different before the end. What would you say the best silver lining to the apocalypse is? By that I mean, what change do you most appreciate in your lives since the apocalypse? (And you can’t cheat and say each other.)
Gwyn: “Well, since we can’t cheat…
The apocalypse forced me to open myself up to new experiences—things I’d never in a million years have done before. I actually learned to shoot a gun. I have a family. I eat macaroni and cheese and love it. I’ve read some amazing books I’d never have picked up before the end. Finding so many things I love, but would never have found but for the apocalypse? That is my silver lining.
Rafe: Living in a freaking mansion. I mean, seriously, I’d never have been able to afford that before. And aside from all the walking meat sacks, the apocalypse has been a real catalyst for freedom. There’s no more bills to pay, no schedule to keep, nobody telling you what to do. Survival’s an adventure.
Barbara Ann: Follow up Question—what do you fear most right now? What about the apocalypse makes you lose the most sleep at night?
Gwyn: I have two fears that wake me up, and they are intertwined. The first is that the vaccine will fail. That I will have missed something, and that instead of holding, the cure will regress. The second is that something will happen to my family, and I won’t be able to save them. Both give me nightmares—the kind where you’re afraid to go back to sleep for fear they’ll return.
Rafe: Like I said before, discovering people I couldn’t live without has been the best thing about the apocalypse, but the worst thing is being haunted by the fear that something will happen to them. My job is to keep everyone safe. I joke about survival being an adventure, and it is, but it’s also a big responsibility when I have eight people depending on me. I can’t let anything happen to them. I’d never survive that.
Barbara Ann: Who would you say is in charge of things these days? The zombies? People? Is there Zombie territory and people territory? And is it the same elsewhere, or do you even know?
Gwyn: Actually, Rafe is best suited to answer this one, as he goes out of the compound far more often than I do, and we’re fairly isolated here.
Rafe: Zombies are everywhere, but I wouldn’t say they’re in charge. There are pockets of survivors all over SoCal, but there’s more zombies than people so we just have to be careful. The tech age is over, so I have no idea what it’s like anywhere else, but I have to assume it’s the same.
Barbara Ann: You guys have been great, and I have only one last question. What do you see the future to be? What’s next for you guys, and what are you working towards?
Gwyn: I’m working towards finding a way to produce large quantities of the serum we need to cure the Infected. Unfortunately, it takes quite a bit of time to complete, and I have only been able to make small batches. We need a way to do more. I don’t have enough to cure fifty Infected, and even with all the dead, we need billions of doses if we’re to eradicate the Infected.
Rafe: My job is to keep my family safe and to help Gwyn however I can. When we first met and she claimed she could cure the zombies, I didn’t believe her. But she proved me wrong so we’re working toward figuring out how to make it all work so we can save the world.
My name is Merissa McCain. I grew up in the African bush, without T.V, and often without electricity. I now live in the deep South, with my very own superhero, and my three minons. Together, we attempt to take over the world.
When not otherwise occupied with planning world domination, I love to read, write, drink strong coffee and eat dark chocolate–not necessarily in that order and sometimes all at once. I’m a voracious reader, and will devour any type of good fiction I can get my hands on, but I’m particularly partial to happy endings.
Hi. I’m Margaret Madigan. Or M.K.D. Bail, depending on what literary genre we’re talking about.
I live in the vast Northern Plains where it’s quiet and mostly empty, and very conducive to letting my imagination run wild. As a result, I have difficulty focusing on just one genre of storytelling. Of course, I love romance, so I write a lot of that, but I also write science fiction, a bit of horror, and dabble in other genres just for the fun of it.
When I’m not writing you’ll find me in a college classroom teaching English, or working as a literary agent for an amazing agency…and of course enjoying time with my family.
5 digital copies of Hero for Hire
2 $10.00 Gift Cards (Amazon or B&N or iTunes)