Merrimon Book Reviews

From Merrimon Book Reviews
Countdown by Michelle Maddox
by Michelle Maddox
    5 Hearts   
Suspenseful, riveting futuristic action romance
Publisher: Shomi (August 2008)
Michelle Maddox's action romance Countdown pits together an unlikely hero and heroine, an outlaw and an outcast, murderer and thief, in race for their lives. A futuristic setting and technology turns pleasure and entertainment into extreme territory. Fast paced action, a smart top notch competitor heroine and an intriguing unique hero combine to make Countdown one exhilarating read.

Anyone with power, money, influence or anything worthwhile has taken a transport to Offworld. Kira Jordan, one of the remnant left behind in this horrible world was out shoplifting a pair of red shoes, when presto, her world gets a whole lot worse! She awakens in a black room, chained to a wall. Terrified of the blackness doesn't even cover it. She feels the presence of a man, a man she cannot see. When the lights turn on, so does the Countdown and she discovers that she has been thrown in with a murderer for a cellmate and they have only seconds, til the end of the countdown, to work together or die. With no escape possible, Kira must decide whether to trust this man in a survival game in which the stakes are life and death. Something about this horrifying ally named Rogan feels different. Can she trust him and for how long? Using her psi ability to feel the truth within him through touch, Kira suspects that there is something that doesn't add up about his bio as a mass murderer but could she be wrong? With the Countdown and game playing through a chip inside her brain, Kira doesn't have time to figure out all the intricacies of his past. She must work with him to beat the Countdown, not just once but 6 levels of the game. Failure to solve the puzzle in time means death!

Wow! This was one exhilarating read! With echoes of Death Row Game Show, Survivor, and Fear Factor, Michelle Maddox takes the game show, survival and romance to the next level and then some. Countdown creates a dark world where a reality show has turned Xtreme as voyeuristic viewers enjoy the high stakes with a kind of sick fascination fed by the latest technology. This is no made-for-mass consumption Survivor-like reality show with neutral medics and staff waiting beyond the cameras to insure the safety of the contestants! Here, the closed circuit subscribers in this covert game are nastier and meaner than than the most hated Survivor contestant. Michelle Maddox gives readers thrill after thrill as two unlikely allies must come together to survive. It is hard to say a lot about the plot of this book without revealing major spoilers to ruin the fun, but suffice it to say, there are so many delightful twists and turns to this romance that the thrills never end. Just when things stabilize, a new kink in the game surfaces. Countdown is definitely a romance with a dark suspenseful side that makes non-stop reading a must.

The romance itself intrigues as Michelle Maddox veers from more familiar romance genre paradigms with her cutting edge characters. Michelle Maddox both allies and pits the hero and heroine against each other in a race that unlocks their deepest fears and secrets as they struggle against the overwhelming odds favoring their extermination. Kira is thrown into an unfamiliar setting with a man known to be dangerous --- a mass murderer, but she has no choice but to rely on her own wits and physical prowess and, worst of all, to trust him. Tied together, they cannot escape from each other without risking annihilation. Intelligent and able-bodied, Kira has both fears and special abilities but she has been cast aside for those better and brighter and richer --- those who went Offworld. Without money or special ability, her only hope for a decent life off the streets is to win the game. Rogan is a condemned murderer, a man sentenced to die. His only hope for escape is the game. Injured and desolate, Rogan must depend on Kira's brains and body --- and her cooperation! With each new level of the Countdown, Kira discovers more and more shattering details about Rogan's past and yet, something beneath his rough, disheveled appearance draws her. She must race to distinguish lies from truth in a world where friend can turn foe and foe a friend. Tortured by their pasts, can their work as a team unleash the dark demons within...and will they survive to reap the benefits? In the final game, Kira and Borgan's developing love will be put to the ultimate test that will challenge their trust at the most primal level with consequences far beyond themselves in an electrifying conclusion.

Michelle Maddox's Countdown is a perfect choice for readers who crave the unusual and daringly innovative in a romance. Countdown adds elements of science fiction and suspense in a taut, tension-filled plot that keeps the reader guessing until the last page.

Reviewed by Merrimon, Merrimon Book Reviews

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