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The Complete Darkness Collection (Refuge Inc.) Paperback – September 18, 2013
About the Author
The author of several books of fiction and fiction with spice, Leslie Lee Sanders resides in Queen Creek, Arizona, with her husband, three daughters, and a wild beast she calls her imagination. After writing erotic romance, mostly in the gay and ménage categories, she's recently plunged into writing deep, dark, sci-fi with her LGBT post-apocalyptic and dystopian series, Refuge Inc.
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I received the collection of the Refuge Inc series from the author for a review.
When I initially read the blurb, when the opportunity to review the series and the subsequent new standalone book, Resurfaced, I was blown away. There is more than the odd post-apocalyptic (or end of the world) themed books, this one just happens to be about a catastrophic asteroid. Honestly, I’ve read a few too many zombie apocalypses – of course, they’re trendy – in both MM and mainstream so it was a nice change of pace to read about asteroids. Also, while it is not strictly a romance, there is plenty of MM love to go around. Everything about the blurb drew me into the story, just as it should, made me start developing a mental picture and made me want to read, also just as it should.
I think though, because I read these books in the same volume I have come to a greater appreciation of the overall story arc. Which is why, overall I’ve given the series 5 stars but individually each book I’ve given 4 stars.
So, here is the review for the three books, I will keep it as short as I can.
Refuge Inc. 1. Before the Darkness (4 stars)
I have to say, what I love about this post-apocalyptic world created by Leslie Lee Sanders is – aside from the fact that I love her vivid descriptions of the landscape – that this is the tale of desperation of two guys who end up finding each other after an asteroid hit. They aren’t running from some weird militia that spontaneously took over – they are simply trying to survive in a world that has been completely destroyed. It’s a good introduction to this world and I can’t stress enough how much I like the change of pace, because seriously, I do get a tad tired of the surviving population going feral (for lack of a better world) within a heartbeat of the end of the world.
This book is something of an introduction for the following two books and so this was very much a book of telling and not a lot of doing.
As to the characters, they are also quite wonderful. Elliot is something of an unassuming survivor. He’s a bit of a quiet type but seems to work well as a survivor because he has been ignored in his family for many years that in a way he has been surviving on his own for a while. When he meets Adam, what I found to be a bit abrasive in Elliot’s character was overlooked after meeting Adam. Adam sometimes seems callous and is quick to tell a lie – to be honest I had mixed feelings about him even if at the same time I became very invested in both their characters.
As a side, yes this is labelled MM erotica, but it really isn’t. The sex in the book seems to come as a sort of affirmation between the characters that they have indeed survived this massive catastrophe. While it was almost always quick and dirty, it seemed to match the landscape of the surviving world and the mystery of Refuge.
Refuge Inc. 2. Amid the Darkness (4 stars)
The second instalment in the Refuge Inc series, we are delving deeper into the world of the mysterious place that is called Refuge that sometimes seems to match the darkness of the world that surrounds them. I’m finding it difficult to write the review for this book because the series seems to me to be something like a serial – this picks up immediately where we left off with book 1.
The advantage of reading this as a serial is that the character development is a lot deeper (Elliot is a lot more likable compared to book 1) and the explanations of book 1 start to fall into place as we navigate this post-apocalypse with Elliot and Adam. The sex is becoming less out of desperation/relief, which is an interesting turn of events. In Refuge, things seem more than a little odd and frightening now. They have now been assigned the pods where they will live and now they’ve also been assigned duties (based on the questions/forms they answered when they first arrived).
Where there weren’t many characters in book 1, we now have numerous characters popping up (some shadier than others). This means increased complexity. With the addition of new characters there is a lot of added mystery, which just suits the whole backdrop of the story. I think this book goes a long way to go down the paths that were marked or started in book 1.
Refuge Inc. 3. Beyond the Darkness
The mysterious Refuge has now been revealed to be every bit as shady as we began to suspect even at the end of the first book when Adam and Elliot first arrived. However, getting away from refuge means that they encounter more dangers on the outside as the situation with other survivors is becoming more desperate. Food, water and medicine has become a precious commodity in the time (I’m thinking its weeks or months after at this point) since the asteroid strike. It is at this point that I am have no issues in seeing the worst (and the best) of humanity come to the fore.
In terms of Elliot and Adam’s characters, by this point I had now forgotten by initial reservations when it came to the characters and I was completely invested in them, their survival and their relationship. The blend between the action and danger and romance is quite pleasing. This is a continuing tale of survival and now there is the added element of conspiracy theories and mysterious things the government does not want people to know. It’s all pretty damn cool, that’s all I’m going to say.
The ending seems to tie up the most important parts, though part of me, already knowing that there is another two books, I know that more fundamental aspects of the Refuge will come up again, after we finish Elliot and Adam’s story. I think though, in the end, I was just so invested in their story that part of me did not want it to end! However, Adam and Elliot receive a very satisfying conclusion to their story and the readers are left with the knowledge that there is more Refuge to come!
I think in the end the revelation I’ve gotten out of this about Adam and Elliot and their personalities is that the initial stage of survival brought out instincts that made them seem quite abrasive. But in the end I feel we have finally got to know the actual guys. That being said, this is one of those books, if you like the genre, you need to stick with if you are having difficulties and you will find yourself more than happy by the end result. However, for me, it was more the vivid descriptions of what was happening drew me in and it was then the character development that made me stick around.
* I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review *
This is a three book collection that tells the tale of the circumstances after a disaster strikes the earth. Elliot and Adam meet shortly after impact and struggle to survive in a world changed by devastation. On their journey in to the unknown they learn about each other. Adam however is untrue to himself and denies who he is. Elliot is a survivor but at times need reassurance. They both touched my heart with everything they went through.
I loved how the books take up where the other leaves off as I hate cliffhangers and waiting util the next book comes out to find out what happens next. The compound Elliot and Adam find themselves at in the second book seemed to good to be true. I honestly loved the entire collection as it leads the reader through an adventure where all is not as it seems and trusting someone you hardly know can be deadly.
The descriptions depending on the scene were heartwarming, horrifying and had me holding my breath at times awaiting the outcome. I was so surprised by some of the things that were revealed as the story continued. Fantastic story worth reading. There were a few errors throughout the book but not many.
A story of survival and love all rolled into one.
I had previously read the first book in the series and wasn’t completely happy with it. Mostly because the individual books end in a cliffhanger and I’m not a cliffhanger kind of person. I want to know the rest and I hate waiting for the next in the series. That’s the reason I like this compilation more.
In the book, we have two people thrown together in a post apocalyptic world (even if it’s only their tiny portion of the world).
Adam and Elliot meet somewhere in the middle of a damaged Phoenix Az. Elliot is wearing his “Pride” T-shirt when they meet so there’s not a lot of room for doubt about his orientation. Adam on the other hand is in the closet and in denial. He lies to Elliot about his occupation. As they roam the deserted and destroyed streets of the city trying to survive, Elliot gets Adam to reveal his feelings, fears and the truth. They struggle with their feelings for each other and everyday survival, until they finally find Refuge Inc.
Adam and Elliot have arrived at the Refuge Inc and are separated into two different sections of the shelter because Adam lied (again). Adam just being himself though saves the “Prophet” of the Refuge and is rewarded. Elliot on the other hand is suspicious of the refuge and starts to incite concern over where people’s pets have gone. Elliot is thrown into the Refuge jail trying to find the pets. One of the people who tried to kill the “Prophet” Mason is in the other cell and he tells Elliot that this entire shelter is a scam. That things out side aren’t as bad as they seem. Elliot and Mason talk Adam into going along to break out of the shelter.
Adam and Elliot have escaped the shelter only to encounter other people who mention that they heard on the radio that survivors couldn’t be rescued due to a WWIII situation. Adam and Elliot try to send the other group over to the Refuge without going with them, but then Adam decides they need to go back anyway because of the radio to send a help message. They find the shelter in a shambles, people scattered, and Mason now in charge. Adam manages to send out a call for help before Mason attacks and rescue arrives.
There are a few things in the books that stretch credibility. For example, Adam falling down an elevator shaft and in Jason Bourne like style lands on top of the body of dead guard and then being able to walk away in time to meet up with Elliot and Mason coming out of the tunnel entrance of the shelter.
Also the time frame from call for help to rescue. I’m not sure exactly where the rescue came from. I lived in AZ during my time in the Army. There are so many military bases including Luke AFB in Phoenix. It’s strange to me that the entire AFB was emptied and no one from the military was aiding survivors.
As individual books, I wouldn’t like them as much because of the cliffhanger endings. As a compilation, where you can just start the next book, it’s better. (Note The star rating on Goodreads and on Amazon are slightly different because Amazon has a different star rating and it's still a "liked it" so 4 stars here and 3 on Goodreads both = Liked it.)
Most recent customer reviews
I had not realized until today that my original review didn't post and wanted to fix that right away.Read more
This was a very interesting collection of books (there are three in the series).Read more
Before The Darkness (Book 1)
In the first book we meet Elliot Stewart who is...Read more