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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Catching Red by Tara Quan


Scarlet “Red” Ryding is on a mission. To prevent mass suicide, she must fulfill her grandmother’s evil wishes and return posthaste. With knives in hand, she dives headfirst into an abandoned hospital full of zombies. But after getting trapped within, she is forced to accept help from the world’s most dangerous predator—a man.

Covert Agent Marcus Woodsman received strict instructions against interfering in the affairs of nomads. As a spy for the Federal Military Agency, his mandate is to observe and report. But when he finds a little redhead caught in the center of a brain-eater swarm, conscience compels him to put his ax to good use. By the time he realizes this smart-ass scout comes equipped with a world of trouble, it’s too late—he would do anything to keep her safe.

As Red and her Woodsman work together to survive undead, brave a snowstorm, and bring down an evil cult, they learn to laugh, love, and fight for happiness. The second book in Tara Quan’s Undead Fairy Tales series, Catching Red is a post-apocalyptic thriller with a happily ever after.

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An intriguing follow-up to book one of this series, Tower in the Woods. While this book can stand alone and is fully understandable without having read the first book, reading them in order can help you to understand a few things that happen or are mentioned a bit better. This book expands upon the universe created in book one, filling in some more blanks about it and giving us a larger picture of what the world is like in this post-apocalyptic future.



Scarlet was born in the WITCH, and though she's never experienced life beyond the WITCH compound and surrounding woodlands, she is aware there is more to the world thanks to her connection to the leadership of the cult. She's highly trained in various fighting techniques, primarily hand-to-hand with knives, and is fairly well self-educated in many other survival skills as well via reading in books or through trial and error on her own. While she despises her grandmother Eleanor and other leader of the cult, Mother Gothel, she remains fiercely loyal to the others she's grown up with, to the point that she's willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good if need be. That's not to say that she's suicidal, for she isn't really, she just cares about her friends enough to be willing to put her life on the line to help ensure their survival and the success of the rebellion that she and others have been planning.

Marcus is something of a wild man, though he has a good bit of the trained soldier in him as well. Unlike Scarlet, he grew up in the city and was indoctrinated with military protocols that hold sway there. Through dealing with various Nomads for several years, however, he's managed to unlearn a lot of the militaristic mannerisms he'd been reared with, and has begun to adopt a more flexible attitude toward protocols. This attitude grows by leaps and bounds over the course of the story, largely due to his growing feelings for Scarlet, until he reaches the point he's willing to fly completely in the face of convention and cut ties with everything he's known if that's what it will take to be with her. A very domineering personality, he is convinced that he knows what's best for Scarlet -- better than she herself does even. Needless to say, he's often disabused of this notion and it will be interesting to see how he compromises with her in the future. Hopefully we'll get to see some of that in future books in the series.

Overall I found this to be a very interesting story, though I have to admit that I was rather confused through much of the first third or so since some things didn't seem to fit with the first book. I often found myself wishing it hadn't been so long since I read the first book since I couldn't remember all of the details well enough to form a clear frame of reference for some things. Once I realized that most of this book takes place more or less simultaneously with the first book, and not after the events of the first book as I'd originally assumed, it all began to fall into place much better. If you keep that in mind when you start reading (assuming you've read the first one) you'll probably have a much easier time with it than I did. Once I had the timeline straight I began to be intrigued by the overlaps and the different perspectives on the world we're given. We learn a lot more about the zombies in this one, and they pose a more real threat in this one as well. After finishing this one I'm definitely looking forward to future books in the series to see where the meta-story goes from here.

The romance between Scarlet and Marcus is at times a bit confusing, and is often rather stop and start. For someone that's been taught to fear men all her life, she's remarkably accepting of him almost immediately. Granted, she's not in much condition to object to having to stay with him for a few weeks after she's gravely injured at the hospital, but she's nowhere near as disturbed by him as you might expect her to be. Likely this is due to her skepticism regarding what she's been told all her life since she's well aware her grandmother and Mother Gothel have their own agendas and most likely aren't telling them the truth about a lot of things. I still would have expected a bit more hesitancy on her part regarding starting up a relationship with him, even if just a physical one. Or perhaps even especially a physical one. The bedroom scenes here are pretty hot, though the relationship proves to be rather rocky and awkward much of the time. Even at the end, it's clear that they still have much to settle between them and most likely a lot of compromising to do before they'll truly be able to enjoy their HEA.

An enjoyable, relatively quick read that I'd recommend to anyone who likes paranormal romances, contemporary/future time romances, and/or post-apocalyptic/dystopian type stories. Reading book one first isn't strictly necessary to understand and enjoy this one, but doing so would help provide some explanations for a few things that aren't explained as much here. 4 stars.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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