Today’s post is a review of H.K. Savage’s romantic thriller, An Undying Oath and is chock-full of extras. You can read an excerpt followed by an insightful interview with the author about writing this book and what readers can expect from her in the future. Finally, be sure to enter the giveaway for your chance to win one of several prizes!!
An Undying Oath by H.K. Savage
Publication Date: September 2013
Publisher: Staccato Publishing
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Paranormal
Sergeant Justin Shaw returned from the war with what is left of his unit, though instead of being hailed as heroes, they are being sought as test subjects. Their last mission behind enemy lines to obtain a WMD ended with them exposed and on the run. Their goal is not only to destroy the weapon, but also the program being run by their own government. Justin and his men have sacrificed everything for their mission. Will it be enough? Samantha James, a girl whose father disappeared almost twenty years ago unwittingly holds the key. When her father returns bodies start to fall. Sam doesn’t know who to trust. Both Justin and her father have their own agendas and either one of them could end up with her dead.
An Undying Oath, the first book in what looks to be a planned trilogy, was an enjoyable read. I was drawn to the book because of its storyline: three honorable soldiers serving their country in the Middle East become unwilling test subjects for an immoral, unethical secret government genetics experiment to create the ultimate immortal super soldier. After escaping imprisonment, Justin, Marcus, and Jimmy refuse to rest until they have destroyed the program headed by a deranged and scorned General on a mission to elevate her career status.
When the lead scientist of this genetic government-funded program involves his estranged daughter, Sam, in his endeavors, he selfishly puts her life and those she cares about in danger. Unknowingly, Sam becomes a target and the bait for both sides in their quest to obtain this genetic formula designed to turn soldiers into weapons. Although Sergeant Justin Shaw plans to use whatever means necessary to get information from Sam and to draw out her father, his heart has other plans, and this creates dissension among the trio. Because of the dire circumstances, Sam and Justin don’t have time for their relationship to blossom slowly. Instead, their strong attraction to each other soon becomes intimate despite Justin’s efforts to keep an emotional distance. I’m not a fan of “insta love” relationships, but the events that occur help me to believe that even though Justin and Sam don’t know all the nitty-gritty details about each other, they are able to see the strength and goodness that radiates within the other, and this becomes enough for them to fight to be together. Their love scenes are mildly sensual and avoid graphic description.
I find that many authors of romantic suspense use dual POVs from both the hero and heroine to narrate the story, but Savage uses an omniscient POV to give readers a more holistic view of this fictitious world and to add depth to the key characters. For the most part, this technique is effective. I like getting the perspectives of both Marcus and Jimmy, who’ve also suffered and lost much through their excruciating experiences. Furthermore, I have a better understanding of the underlying tension that exists among the three men who have united for a common cause but still lack the refined cohesiveness needed to cement their team. The main characters have good intentions, but they also have their flaws, especially Sam’s father, Dr. Steven James. Just like Sam, my perception of him swung back and forth like a pendulum because of his willingness to use unethical methods in his pursuit of scientific discoveries that could be used for the greater good of society as well as to its detriment.
By using the omniscient POV, the author also provides a glimpse into the antagonists’ minds, but I found the villains to be merely two-dimensional characters whose motives are singularly driven by a need for power and prominence with no regard for others, so, overall, their perspectives didn’t add as much depth to the storyline. There are a few scenes leading to the plot’s suspenseful climax that incorporate too many characters’ POVs, which I found disruptive to the flow of the story. Other readers may like the infusion of multiple perspectives within a scene, but it was a distraction for me.
Although the beginning of the story starts off slowly, the momentum builds after Sam receives a package from her father, and then the pacing and action throughout the story kept me engaged until the very end. Savage does a great job of incorporating paranormal elements into this romantic suspense, and I look forward to reading more of this author’s work in the future.
Source: I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the author to provide an honest and fair review.
Carefully, she pushed open the door and entered her apartment. The growling ball of fur in her grasp was having no part of it. Clawing at her with his sharp back claws, Bill took a few chunks out of her forearms as he finally leapt free of her, racing down the hall and out of sight. Sam didn’t give chase or even turn her head to see where he went. He wouldn’t go far, he never did on the rare occasion he got out. In a few minutes he would be beating at the door with his soft, declawed front paws. Her focus was on what had incited such panic in her even keel pet. Why was Bill so scared to go inside? He liked Paul. Even more unsettling was the feeling crawling down her spine. Something was very wrong. She could feel it.
There was no sound or movement coming from inside. When Paul was over he always had the television turned on a game whether it was football, basketball, soccer, whatever. He always had to have background noise. Unlike Sam, he liked noise.
“Paul?” Sam realized she was crouching. Telling herself she was being ridiculous, she forced herself to stand up, pushing the door open and peering inside. There was no answer. Maybe he was tired and had nodded off she told herself. It did nothing for the now painful gooseflesh covering her body. “Paul?” she called his name again, whispering it this time. He wasn’t in the living room or kitchen. She pushed a cabinet door closed with the back of one hand as she walked past. He had to have been here, she never left drawers or cabinets open. Glancing around, she noticed a piece of mail hanging over the edge of her sorter. What had he been doing in here, snooping? With considerably more effort, she forced her feet toward the bedroom, stepping over one of Bill’s toys lying in the middle of the floor.
“Paul?” His name died on her lips as she walked past the open bathroom door and froze. Without knowing what she was doing, Sam drifted inside and stopped just inside the doorway. Her hand flew to her mouth too late to stop the scream.
Available from these retailers:
Amazon:An Undying Oath
HK lives in the frozen hinterlands of the far North. The long, cold months provide ample opportunity to hunker down with her computer and create adventures far more enticing than scraping ice and getting frostbite.
Between books HK reads voraciously. Anything with a good plot and compelling characters are her broad parameters. One is as likely to catch her with a copy of Don Quixote as with the latest in Gail Carriger’s steampunk series.
HK practices martial arts, rides her horse, gardens and plays with her family every chance she gets. Next winter she intends to brush up on her Spanish and escape the cold for somewhere more tropical.
What gave you the idea for the plot of An Undying Oath?
It seems like the future of war is biotech and as much as we want to get soldiers off the front lines, there’s always going to be that need for boots on the ground. The constant evolution of body armor getting lighter and more resilient kind of took me there. What if it wasn’t the armor, but the soldier himself who was more resilient? And what would the moral implications and human toll be?
What kind of research did you conduct before starting or during the process of writing the book? Was there an intriguing fact or insight that you learned from your research?
My background is biology so I follow advances in the media. The research from Life Blood (prev rom thriller) transferred for the purposes of this story. Interesting fact? Hmm, I’d say the history of the blood wars between England and France and the beliefs of what transferred with the blood. You get pig blood? Well, are you better at sniffing out truffles? Seriously, it’s kind of funny but we still believe things like that today.
Do you see any aspects of yourself in Samantha’s character?
Samantha is a kickboxer as am I so that’s the most obvious and least telling. Haha. Actually, Sam is kind of personal for me. Her distant relationship (or lack thereof at a young age) is one I can relate to and her closeness with her mom.
Which scene was your favorite to write? Which was the most difficult?
I’d say my favorite scene was the kiss fake out, when he’s grabbing the coffee cup. It was one of those funny things that happens in life and I just saw it unfolding as I wrote it and was laughing as I went.
Hardest? It’s a toss up between the final scene between Sam and her dad in the lab because of the emotion there. The regret was so strong I had to walk away twice. And the other would be Marcus’ struggle with Sam going after Justin. I rewrote that one about 5 times. I really had no clue how he would play that one, he has been such a hard character to get to know. Hoping to know him by book 3 which will be his story.
If you could pick a song or soundtrack to match the heroine’s or hero’s life, what would it be?
“Hero” by Foo Fighters would maybe work for Sam and Staind’s “It’s Been A While” for Justin I think. He’s just had such a struggle coming to terms with everything and the responsibility he feels has been crushing.
If you could go back in time to talk to the pre-published H.K. Savage, what advice, if any, would you give to her?
Keep that old draft, fool!
Can you tell us about any of your current or upcoming projects and what readers can expect next?
I’m working on the follow up to Undying, which is Jimmy’s story then it’ll be Marcus’ turn. Also, I’m trying to finish my adult paranormal series, The Admiral’s Elite (Second Sight and Into the Light) with the third installment.
1 signed PB of An Undying Oath
1 $5 Amazon GC
1 Ecopy of An Undying Oath
After listening to the lyrics of the songs H.K. Savage selected for Sam and Justin, I agree these songs are good choices to represent this couple’s conflicts and struggles.
“My Hero” by Foo Fighters
“It’s Been Awhile” by Staind