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Scarlet by Jordan Summers
Cover Artist: Christian McGrath
Review by Harriet Klausner
Tor Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765359155
Date: 02 June 2009 List Price $6.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Since the last world war in 2010, earth is not a very comfortable place for humans and only the strong and determined can have a good life. Boundary fences separate the small republics from the no-man lands where outlaws and bandits pry on the nomads. During the war to end all wars, scientists created Others; vampires, shifters and other genetically engineered humans who were used as mass weapons of destruction; now these elite entities are held in fear. Gina "Red" Santiago has recently discovered she is a werewolf and moved to the Arizona town of Nuria where others like her hide in plain sight.

Red loves alpha werewolf Morgan Hunter, sheriff of Nuria. He tries to keep her safe, but knows she must learn to shift when awake if she is to survive. One night there is a commercial in which clones are advertised; a woman who can be a wife or a prostitute and a child who is part of a family or can be used as slave labor. The clones are Morgan's family; he leaves Gina in charge of the town and looks for his dead family's cells so he can destroy them. When a man dies shortly after he leaves, the townsfolk assume Red killed him. Soon afterward, another newcomer comes to the town asking Red for help and causes himself self injury and blames Gina for beating him up. With Morgan out in the wild looking for a needle in a haystack, Red is on her own even as a vigilante mob wants her dead as does an old enemy who she once defeated.

In a world decimated by war and its aftermath, people have a chip inserted in them containing their DNA record. Thus this further profiling enables the loathing of the Others who were made at birth as weapons so are typically more powerful in a one on one situation. The Others finding love, like Red and Morgan, is very special; but like others of their kind have to stay under the radar because one evil politician with plenty of power and followers is using them as scapegoats in an effort to sustain a separate but unequal rule with one global government. He is willing to kill and secretly destroys those who oppose him. This man also seeks Red for reasons that are obvious if you read this strong vivid futuristic science fiction thriller.

Red is used to leadership having led a unit, but trying to run a town especially one filled with Others is much more difficult and complex than following and giving orders that her subordinates must follow. Still she tries when Morgan leaves to take care of family business. These two subplots rotate until they intertwine. Each is fascinating in different ways yet share in common how barbaric and horrific the world has become. When they merge, their part of the world seems even uglier; kudos to Jordan Summers for pulling off what would have been deemed impossible while following the vivid descriptions of what Morgan faces and Red confronts in a town without pity.

There is plenty of action on both fronts and a cliffhanger setting up for the next tale, but what makes the latest Red tale Scarlet compelling and provocative is the cast. The heroes and villains act as if they believe in their gut they are indestructible.

The other key to this fine entry in a super saga is the Others are based on science not the paranormal, which enhances the belief they are real and the world has spun off its axis in the past century and a half since the great war. Readers will appreciate Scarlet, but should read Red first to understand her background, especially her relationship with her grandfather, and how she ended up in Nuria in love with Morgan.

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