The Formicary: Cross – S.E. Harmon
I thought getting shot, losing my memory, and being hunted by people I didn’t know for reasons I couldn’t remember was rock bottom. Turns out I was wrong. I found a shovel, dug a little deeper, and found a whole new sublevel of suck.
Apparently, I took something from the Formicary that doesn’t belong to me. The boss, Petar Dobroslav, is willing to do just about anything to get it back. Making an enemy of a super-secret organization of assassins might seem like a bad idea and…well, it absolutely is.
To be honest, it was inevitable that Grayson Laurie would get dragged into my mess. In my line of work, love is a luxury, a vulnerability I can’t afford. But I couldn’t stay away, and now we’re both paying the price.
But I can fix this. I will fix this. Everyone knows the Formicary is a formidable adversary. It’s time to remind them that so is Christian Cross.
Cross is the riveting sequel to the sci-fi amnesia romance series, The Formicary. It picks up after the events in the first book, Chrysalis, where we find the unlikely named assassin, Christian Cross and his doctor boyfriend, Grayson Laurie, held inside The Formicary under the control of Chris’s grandfather, Peter Dobroslav.
The Formicary is a giant hive of scientists, lab techs, and support staff conducting highly unethical experiments, like turning people such as Chris into android super soldiers. Chris was blackmailed by his evil grandpa to find the missing scientist in charge of some high-level super secret experiment. Or else Gray pays the price.
In the first book, I found Chris’s little commentaries superfluous. There were still a few here but now, the idiot has endeared himself. The story is from his 1st-person POV, and boy, is this guy just full of brilliant dumb ideas! He’s actually funny now, though sometimes, not so much.
Chris is the first to admit he’s more a man of action than a thinker of deep thoughts. He’s been planning to kill the evil Dobroslav, and his genius plan is A. get to Dobroslav, B. pull the trigger.
Luckily, he got Gray’s beauty and brains on his side. This sweet, mild-mannered doctor is not only the person who hangs the moon and is the center of the universe, but also the anchor that grounds the Swiss cheese mind and questionable identity of the experimental guinea pig named Christian Cross a.k.a. Chrysalis.
I totally understand why Chris looks at Gray with permanent heart eyes. Gray is perfect! He’s my favorite character. The doctor is a saint for putting up with the doofus’s antics since college. I loved that the prim and proper man has the sense of humor to roll with Chris’s man-child jokes.
And it was the doctor, with the help of their android frenemy, Chaos, and Chris’s best friend, Nick, who came up with a more solid plan to take down The Formicary. Something where the four of them come out alive.
This book is a fantastic example of how to do an established couple romance. The plot effectively created external conflicts highlighting the unbreakable bond between the two MCs. There were flashbacks to younger, happier days juxtaposed against the present day’s precarious circumstances.
The couple was constantly surrounded by danger, making their quieter moments more precious and satisfying. The amnesia fueled Chris’s pining and longing for Gray, even when they were together the entire time. All these feels made the romance more poignant and impactful than if the two were a new couple.
My favorite supporting character is Chaos, Chris’s training teacher, frenemy, and Dobroslav’s loyal guard. His dry humor and blunt statements had me cracking up. I hope he gets his own book. Would love to see him paired with Nick.
I’ve got to say, wow! Cross was one hell of a ride! The plot was very twisty-turny, heading in directions I never even considered. The writing pulled it off smoothly, in a way where it didn’t feel convoluted despite the many twists, secrets, and reveals.
The mystery and suspense leading to an action-packed climax made for a spectacular finale. The epilogue is another thing that completely took me by surprise. It was a sweet, soul-cleansing experience. The peace was so palpable even I felt the cleansing effect!
Androids don’t dream of electric sheep. They dream of anchors and a slice of paradise.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
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The Formicary: Chrysalis – S.E. Harmon
A gunshot to the head is bad enough. Waking up with amnesia is far worse. I learn that the hard way when I wake up in the hospital, my memory practically wiped. I don’t know why someone wants me dead. Hell, I don’t even know my name. They say my name is Christian Cross. Too bad that name means nothing to me.
I haven’t forgotten everything, though. Grayson Laurie has always been my kryptonite, and it would take more than a bullet to the brain to forget him. He assures me that I’m imagining the distance between us, but I know better. I just don’t know how to fix it. I console myself that at least I’ve reached rock bottom and things can’t get worse…until they do.
My life is a tangled mess of lies and deceit. The more I learn about myself, the less I want to know. I want nothing more than an honest future with Gray, but the past isn’t about to let me go without a fight.
Fortunately, I’m starting to realize that fighting is my specialty.
To paraphrase one of the characters, amnesia is something we mostly see in Days Of Our Lives. I find this trope cheesy because of how it’s overused in soaps. But the blurb of the book immediately piqued my interest.
Chrysalis is the first book of The Formicary duology. Christian Cross wakes up in the hospital with no memory of anything, not even his name. The only thing he remembers is the memory of Dr. Grayson Laurie, his boyfriend. The hospital staff told him he was shot in the head. Gray told Chris, the amnesiac ghosted him four years ago and that the doctor is now in another relationship. To make matters worse, some very dangerous people were after Chris, who had no idea why.
The book follows Chris as he traces clues to his identity, fights off the bad guys and wins back the love of his life. Rather than a rebirth, as the title might suggest, this is a return to an old secret life he kept from Gray.
The story is told from a first-person POV. One thing that stood out is that Chris is prone to unnecessary jokes that are not exactly funny or witty. The writing is fast-paced and tight enough to keep the momentum going, but Chris’ little asides don’t really add anything.
However, there is nothing cheesy with how the amnesia trope was deployed. This is one of the better uses of the trope. It worked exceptionally well with the mystery. It is exactly as the blurb says, and I was completely hooked!
I really enjoyed tagging along with Chris as he stumbles upon the bits and pieces of his old life. There were big hints, like the extra body parts and ninja fighting skills, that helped me suss out who or what Christian is. But even knowing that, the air of intrigue and anticipation remained high until the end. Also, despite his bad jokes, the man is an entertaining narrator.
The second chance romance was also wonderfully executed! There’s some push and pull between the MCs because Gray was hurt, and Christian might disappear again. But Chris’ devotion to Gray was pretty obvious from the start, and it was also clear that Gray still has strong feelings for his ex. Their chemistry jumps off the page! I loved watching them find each other again and again.
Gray’s current boyfriend is a non-entity who soon exited so there’s no cheating here. The book is not a standalone. It ends with a cliffhanger so best to have the second book on hand before starting.
Chrysalis has mystery, action, yeah okay, maybe some humor, a couple of painful separations, and long-overdue reunions. It is about a man looking for answers. It delivers those answers in one suspenseful, gripping package. It’s not the most memorable but it’s certainly worth remembering.
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits
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Take your current read and compare it to what you reading this exact time last year. Which one do you like better? What is different about the books? Any special facts/things you want to make note of or bring attention to?
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