Title: Angel (AdvaNced Genetic EvoLution)
Author: Starla Huchton
Series:Evolution (reviews coming soon!)
Published by: Indie
Date published: March 5, 2014
Genres: Superhero/Paranormal/SciFi Romance
Book Length: 297 pages
Steam Rating: Steamy
Main Characters: Candace and Adrian
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“Evolution: ANGEL is an origin story that explores how a superhero becomes who they are. Alternate description: Sexy superheroes. (LOL)” ~Starla Huchton
Candace Bristol has always been obsessed with comic books, but in a world where the nightly news often mirrors these inked stories, her dreams of becoming a real superhero could actually come true. After being rescued by members of the government’s AdvaNced Genetic EvoLution (ANGEL) Project four years ago, getting recruited for this elite team is all she’s wanted.
Now 18, she’s finally reached her goal after years of study and physical training, but little could have prepared her for life as a genetic experiment. As though coming to terms with her new ability to manipulate water isn’t tough enough, she never expected to be swept off her feet by one of her fellow recruits.
With genetic alteration, the threat of physical and mental instability hangs over every superhero like a shadow. When one of their own tumbles over the edge of madness, Candace will have to choose between protecting the world, and saving the one who holds her heart.
“A geek of all trades, Starla Huchton has been crafting stories in various genres since 2007. Her first novel, The Dreamer’s Thread was released as a full cast audiobook podcast, becoming a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. After releasing short fiction of steampunk, noir fantasy, and other varieties, she released the first three books of the Sci-Fi Romance Endure series in 2013. All three books of the Evolution series will be released in 2014, as well as a Steampunk Fantasy novel, Master of Myth (the Antigone’s Wrath series, book 1), which was the first place winner of the Crested Butte Writers’ contest, The Sandy, in 2012.
When not writing, Starla trains three Minions, a black lab, and a military husband whilst designing book covers for independent authors and publishers at Designed By Starla.”
Describe Evolution: ANGEL in 15 words or less!
Evolution: ANGEL is an origin story that explores how a superhero becomes who they are.
Alternate description: Sexy superheroes. (LOL)
We all need a hero! Tell us about the protagonist in Evolution, Was there a real-life inspiration behind him or her?
My heroine is a hero in the most literal sense possible. Candace Bristol has spent 5 years working to become a superhero and finally reaches her goal, but, like most things, it turns out to be quite different than she imagined. She’s driven and never lets anyone tell her she can’t do something, which is something I love about her and sincerely feel there needs to be more of in fiction. But, she also comes to realize that sometimes you can’t do everything on your own, and friends you can trust make all the difference in life. She’s not really based on any particular person, though.
Who is your favorite character in the book? Why?
I think my favorite character in the series is probably Candace’s cousin, Gabe. He’s super-supportive and puts up with all of Candace’s drama. Also, he has a fantastic sense of humor. It isn’t really a one-sided relationship, though, as Candace loves him just as whole-heartedly as he does her and helps him whenever she can.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite bits from the series typically involve conversations between Candace and Jackson, or Candace and Gabe. I’m a sucker for snarky banter, and Jackson never fails me there.
Are you the driver or a passenger in your book? (Are you in control of where the story goes or does it sort of just happen?)
A bit of both, I think. I make loose lists of plot ideas, but my characters always manage to throw a wrench or two in my plans. Generally I can stay on target, but how I get from A to B isn’t always my choice.
Where do superheroes fit in book genres?
Technically, I’ve placed my books in Science Fiction Romance, but it’s very light on science, and would probably easily fit in with Paranormal Romance. The difference for me is in how you explain the extraordinary. My superheroes come into their powers via scientific means, as opposed to magic, but, really, that’s such a tiny part of the story I sort of hate having to label it as such. I don’t want to scare off any readers that might see the Sci-Fi tag and lose interest. For me, the important part is the characters and their journey. So long as they’re grounded in a believable world, I keep the boring details to a minimum.
So why superheroes then?
Really, why not? If folks can write about vampires and werewolves falling in love and fighting evil, why not humans with comic-book type abilities? See also: the Avengers movie. Great story and some really delicious eye candy. LOL
What’s next for you?
The final book in the Evolution series goes live on July 6th, but I’ve still got more planned for the year. In September I’m releasing a Steampunk Adventure called Master of Myth (Antigone’s Wrath #1), and then in November I’ve got a gender-flipped retelling of Snow White called Shadows on Snow. Both of these are content and language clean, so will be suitable for most audiences (as opposed to the Evolution series which is for 18+ readers).
I have to throw in at least a few SILLY questions!
You’re having a party. What character from your book do you hope attends? Why? What character do you hope doesn’t attend? Why?
There aren’t many characters from book 1 that I wouldn’t want at a party, but I think Gabe would be an absolute blast at one. I’m pretty sure he’d come up with some amazing games. Jackson would probably be surly and sit in a corner all night, so he can stay home. 😉
If your book were a dessert what would it be and why?
S’mores! Because chocolate! Also: Jackson’s touch on those marshmallows makes them a pretty apt snack to go with these books!
What books are on your nightstand or by your chair?
Oh man. SO many. I absolutely have to read Clicks by Amy Evans because I’ve had it for a year and really need to get to it. But, I just discovered Being Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram, which is YA superheroes and it’s really tempting to drop everything I’m doing and read it RIGHT NOW.
Who is your favorite “Book Boyfriend”? What series is it from and who wrote it?
I’m not so much into the book boyfriend thing, but I really loved Garrett Reese from Misty Provencher’s Cornerstone series. That’s a YA title and kinda makes me feel weird about liking him so much, but whatever. LOL. I have a huge weak spot for intelligent men, so any fictional guy I fall in love with must have brains and not just looks. Smart is my sexy!
Needles never really bothered Candace before. At least, they hadn’t the first ten times they stuck her that day. By the eleventh one, she dreaded them. Between inoculations and blood draws, she was totally ready for the day to be done. Courtesy of the imposed twelve-hour fast, she was light-headed on top of it. With the only thing in her stomach the sweet, orange-flavored dye she had to drink for the internal imaging, there wasn’t much standing between her and a nose-dive into the floor.
As the lab tech withdrew the last vial of blood, he gave her a concerned look. “Let me get you some orange juice. Wait here.”
Candace stared at the ceiling, fighting off nausea until he returned. She hated to hold up the line of people ready for their turn to get stuck. There were ten other people sitting outside waiting for her to get her head on straight, all of them wanting to be done with this. She could already hear Jackson’s taunts that were sure to come later. There would be cracks about not being so tough after all, or comments on her frailty as a female, or any number of things she couldn’t even imagine. Grimacing, she sat up, determined to get back on her feet and out of here. She wavered as she did so, trying to keep her vision steady.
The lab tech returned with a glass of juice and reprimanded her to stay put. Candace downed it quickly and gave it a minute. When she could focus again, she decided she was ready to go. One step at a time, she made her way out of the phlebotomy lab and into the main clinic space. That stop was her last to-do before lunch, and she desperately needed real food. As she passed by others still waiting on various things, she flashed them a smile and a thumbs up. Even if she didn’t feel strong, she wasn’t about to show everyone that.
Halfway down the hall from the clinic, her luck ran out. A wave of dizziness took her out at the knees and tunnel vision closed in. Bracing for impact, she tried to grab for the railing along the wall, but her reflexes weren’t quick enough.
Expecting to meet with cold, hard tile, she was shocked when a pair of warm, strong arms caught her around the waist.
“Easy there, Sugar Plum,” Jackson said, chuckling. “Unless you’re determined to end up back in the clinic, you should probably sit down.”
Jackson? God. Of all the people who could’ve caught her, why him? She shut her eyes and fought off nauseating dread. So much for avoiding his insults.
Her hand finally got a hold on the railing and she wriggled free of his grasp. “Thanks, but I’ll be fine.”
He crossed his arms and smirked. “Uh huh. You’re white as a sheet and just tried to eat linoleum. Where are you going anyway?”
“Lunch, now that I have permission to eat. I’ll be fine.” What did he care, anyway? He was probably looking for more ways to make her miserable.
He narrowed his eyes at her, ready to throw the b.s. flag. Truthfully, she wasn’t sure how much farther she was going to get on her own, but she wasn’t about to ask him for help. Owing Jackson Lawrence a favor was the worst kind of debt she could think of.
“Candace?” Adrian said as he emerged from a door down the hall. He walked up to where she faced off with Jackson and looked back and forth between the two of them. “You okay?”
“I’m fine.” She kept her gaze trained on Jackson, daring him to say something.
He snorted. “Fine? I’m pretty sure I just saved you from a concussion.”
“My hero,” she said flatly, then softened her expression as she looked at Adrian. “As soon as I get some food, I’ll be back to normal. Nothing to worry about. Between the fasting and blood draws I was a little light-headed, that’s all.”
“You’re headed to the dining hall?” he asked. “I was too, so if you don’t mind the company, I’ll tag along, unless…” He glanced at Jackson again.
Candace rolled her eyes. As if. “Jackson was just leaving. I’d love some company.”
“Actually, I’m all done too,” Jackson said. “Looks like we’re all going the same way.”
She took a deep breath and willed herself not to lose her temper. “What a wonderful coincidence.” God, she hated his smirk. If he was trying to piss her off by screwing up her time with Adrian, he was doing a fantastic job.
Determined to go the rest of the way under her own power, Candace let go of the rail and started off at a brisk clip towards the dining hall. Within a few feet, gray sparkles started up in her peripheral vision. She angled for the wall again and slowed.
“Abandon ship! She’s going down!” Jackson called from behind her, laughing.
This time, it was Adrian who steadied her. Immediately, her face flushed when his arm snaked around her, pulling her to his side. “Careful. Wow, you’re really not okay, huh?”
She sighed. She was never going to live this down. “Sorry.”
He eased her down the corridor, practically carrying her the rest of the way to the dining hall. Jackson trailed behind and stayed with her after Adrian deposited her at a table, taking her badge to collect lunch for her. It was mortifying.
“Looks like Prince Charming came to your rescue after all, huh?” Jackson said as he plopped down on the bench opposite her.
Candace scowled at him. “Why are you still here? Don’t you have books to torture or puppies to kick or souls to eat somewhere?”
“And miss it if you pass out in your food? Not a chance.”
Why did he insist on irritating her at every turn? This better not be his way of pulling the pigtails of the girl he liked. She’d sooner go down that road with her cousin than this jerk. Some girls might be into that whole bad boy thing, but not her. Fixer-uppers didn’t interest her. At all. However…
A grin crept across her face. She could use this as return fire.
Leaning forward, she lowered her voice. “So, you like the helpless type, huh, Jackson? Need someone to rescue?”
Jackson stiffened and backed away. “What the hell? No. Get over yourself.”
She giggled. “And here I thought I wasn’t your type.”
He leaned back in, a dangerous spark in his eyes. “Not everyone buys into your tough as nails, sweet as sugar persona, Candy Cane.”
Now he was calling her a fake? What a jerk. “It seems to have caught your attention, Jackson. Or is it just my imagination that you were staring at my ass the whole way here?”
The muscles in his jaw twitched as he clenched his teeth. “If I did, I was probably trying to figure out what happened to it. Ain’t much there to look at.”
She was going to punch his stupid face in, she was sure of it. If one more word came out of his mouth—
“Is there a problem here?” Gabe slid onto the bench beside her.
“No,” they both said, growling at each other.
“Looks like I can hand off babysitting duty now,” Jackson said as he stood. “Try not to let her drown in her soup.” Hands clenched, he stalked off, flinging the doors open as he went.
Gabe looked at her, eyebrows raised. “What’s up with that, Candy? I thought I told you to stay away from that guy.”
Candace sighed. “I’m trying to. He caught me in the hall. Literally. After that, I think he was just trying to piss off Adrian. Or me. Or both. I dunno. He’s an ass.”
“Some girls like that kind of thing.”
“What kind of thing?” Adrian said as he placed her tray in front of her.
Candace rolled her eyes. “Ignore him.” She smiled at him. “Thank you for getting this for me. You didn’t have to do that.”
“You could barely stand up on your own. I kind of did.” He grinned and turned to Gabe. “Did you eat already?”
Gabe shook his head and stood. “Nope. Walked in and saw this one ready to thrown down with Action Jackson and had to defuse the situation. I’ll go through the line with you and you can tell me why my cousin needed saving.”
“I didn’t need saving,” she protested, but they were already walking away. Sighing, she focused on putting food in her mouth instead. Her brain was foggy and she’d need her strength for the endurance tests that afternoon.
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