by Jeanette Grey
To atone is to make amends for the wrongs you've done. It has a number of religious connotations, too, but what fascinates me involves examining it on a personal level. Deciding to atone involves acknowledging one's own complicity in something that has happened. It doesn't necessarily require shirt-rending theatrics or wallowing in guilt, though sometimes those things come along for the ride.
To tell a story about a hero who is atoning for his sins involves delving into the mind of someone who has done terrible things and who knows it. Someone who has decided in his own mind to carry on. To take responsibility. And to do what he can to make it right.
It's a hell of a heavy burden to bear.
Through the Static, the hero, Jinx, has spent the last few years of his life as a mercenary. His memories of how he ended up in that position have been erased, so he's not sure how he got there, and he hasn't had much say about what he's done. What he does have is the memory of exacting violence on people he's not sure deserved it. He has a tiny voice of doubt trying to speak to him through the static of his tampered memories, trying to tell him that what he's been compelled to do is wrong. And he has a hell of a lot of guilt.
When he meets Aurelia, the woman who discovers the secret to freeing him from the forces who've been controlling him all this time, his guilt makes it difficult for him to be close to her. How dare he touch her with hands that have been covered in so much blood?
Pushing through that guilt and into a place where he can begin to try to atone for what he's done—by protecting Aurelia and taking down the organization that savaged his memories—isn't an easy road. But it's a necessary one, and along the way, more secrets are revealed about the nature of how he was coopted into the kind of life he was forced to lead.
The truth of his past is difficult to accept. But such is the case with atonement. In theory, making up for one's wrongs eventually has to end. There is such thing as enough.
But deciding enough is enough? Accepting that forgiveness is possible—or even that forgiveness might never have been necessary in the first place?
Sometimes, that can be even more difficult than the atoning.
The only way to save him is to let him into her mind…and her heart.
When cybernetics researcher Aurelia Locke is attacked, she instantly recognizes her assailants as a Three—a mercenary unit made up of a trio of soldiers whose minds have been cybernetically linked, their pasts erased, their wills subsumed.
By the skin of her wits, she escapes to an abandoned house, where she hacks its security system in her desperation to find refuge.
Jinx is already on high alert when his Three notices something isn’t right with their safe house. But he never expected to find a woman wounded and bleeding out in his own bed, or that his visceral reaction to her would begin to awaken his lost past from a years-long haze of violence.
In a mad gamble to escape, Aurelia frees Jinx from his Three by severing his neural connection to them and tying his mind to hers. The power of their link shocks them both, manifesting not only in shared thoughts, but in an intensely passionate physical connection.
But dangerous forces pursue them, intent on reclaiming Jinx and silencing Aurelia’s knowledge. Her only chance of saving him is to risk everything—her research, her heart, and her life.
Warning: Contains manipulation of a person’s memory without his consent and brief episodes of mind control, as well as a smart girl on the run, a high-tech soul-bond, and telepathy-enhanced sex.