Published by Entangled Publishing on 12/01/2015
Genres: Romance, Young Adult
Amazon ,B&N ,Kobo , Goodreads
Freedom comes at a cost...
Ella was genetically engineered to be the perfect pet—graceful, demure...and kept. In a daring move, she escaped her captivity and took refuge in Canada. But while she can think and act as she pleases, the life of a liberated pet is just as confining as the Congressman’s gilded cage. Her escape started a revolution, but she’s trapped, unable to get back to Penn—the boy she loves—or help the girls who need her.
Back in the United States, pets are turning up dead. With help from a very unexpected source, Ella slips deep into the dangerous black market, posing as a tarnished pet available to buy or sell. If she's lucky, she'll be able to rescue Penn and expose the truth about the breeding program. If she fails, Ella will pay not only with her life, but the lives of everyone she's tried to save...
I’m thrilled to be part of the Tarnished blog tour. I hadn’t read Perfected before (the first in the series), so I have some reading time involved in this series. But first, there’s an excerpt for you to enjoy, followed by my review, and don’t forget to enter to win the $20 Amazon gift card. Hope the rest of your week is super-swell!
“You came,” I said. “Of course.” He closed the distance between us in a heartbeat.
Standing before me, he reached out and stroked the blunt ends of my hair.
“As I was walking down here, I wondered if maybe I’d dreamed you. If it wasn’t real. But here you are.”
With his thumb and his forefinger, he gently lifted my chin and pressed his lips to mine. His mouth moved slowly, tenderly. Time slowed. Melted. Broke away. The moments stretched, as fluid as water, flowing forward: a drop, a river, an ocean, until I was suspended inside it. Lost.
He pulled away and the world rushed back into focus, time crashing down around us.
“Your father—” I said.
He shook his head. “Don’t worry. He won’t follow me out here. No one will.”
“But inside… He knew!”
Penn shook his head. “He has the house bugged. He lis- tens to everything: all my phone calls, all my conversations. He has a chokehold on me, but it’s safe out here.”
“What about those men?”
“His henchmen?” Penn chuckled, but it was a sad sound. “They won’t come, either. I’ve been coming out here almost every night since he hired them. They’re lazy. They got sick of following me after the first few nights. Once they realized that I was just coming out here to sit, they gave up.”
He pulled me into him again, holding me so tight against his chest I could feel the thrum of his heart against my cheek.
“I can’t believe you’re really here,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again.” I looked up at him and he turned away, his face contorting. “I thought about trying to come to you a thousand times, but I didn’t know how. My dad is watching the borders and I think he almost expected me to go running after you. But he never could have dreamed that you’d come back.”
“I came as fast as I could,” I said. “I saw you on TV. You looked so…” What could I say? So beaten down? So empty? “But how? It’s hundreds of miles and…” His voice trailed off and he shook his head.
There was so much to tell him about: My escape from the refugee center, the train, the horrible things I’d seen in the black markets.
“There’s no time now, but I promise, I’ll tell you later.”
He sighed. “At least I got this chance to hold you one more time. To touch you. But you can’t stay. It’s too dangerous. If my dad knew you were here—”
“What has he done to you?” I ran my fingers through his cut hair. Even after he’d been sleeping on it, it looked too groomed, like his father had managed to suck the wildness right out of the top of his head.
“I’m fine,” he said. “I can handle it as long as I know you’re okay.”
“But I’m not okay without you.” He closed his eyes. He wasn’t okay either.
“Come with me,” I said.
Tarnished is the second book in the Perfected series and takes up right where Perfected left off. The platform of this series is disturbing, to say the least. It’s modern day, but legislature has passed a law that allows genetically created people to be kept as pets. These pets are all girls and trained in kennels to be perfect “life companions” for the rich. Owning a pet is a status symbol. Basically, these girls are perfectly beautiful pampered slaves, but it’s all they know and expect out of life, to be an ornament and please their masters through polite conversation or the elegance of their particular skills, such as music or singing. They’re basically a step above dogs, and most people don’t look at them as true humans. Scary concept, huh?
Ella is the main character, a pet bought by the slimy congressman who schmoozed his way to get the pet bill passed. She’s in love with the congressman’s son, Penn, and since meeting Penn, she wants a life of her own. A real life, not one created to simply please a greedy, skeezy rich guy who doesn’t even look at her like a real person with emotions. But freedom is a rough journey, and that’s where Tarnished picks up. Ella really grows as a person in Tarnished, and I liked her much better than I did in Perfected. I loved how she fights not only for the people she loves and her own happiness, but the welfare of the other pets too. She has a kind heart and I love her relationship with Penn, how they refuse to let anyone keep them apart.
I also loved Missy’s character. She’s both vulnerable and tough, mouthy and generous. Her sacrifices along the way are humongous, far beyond anything Ella makes, and my heart broke for her. I want her to have a happy ending even more than Ella and Penn. Besides romance, there’s a ton of action in Tarnished. Ella meets some interesting people along the way, secrets are revealed (and they’re both big and super-creepy), and the end leaves you with a big bang. Justice must be served! Great YA read.
Book One (Perfected):
Praise for Perfected:
“Compelling, imaginative, and unique. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!”
— Mary Lindsey, author of Shattered Souls
Kate Jarvik Birch is a visual artist, author, playwright, daydreamer, and professional procrastinator. As a child, she wanted to grow up to be either a unicorn or mermaid. Luckily, being a writer turned out to be just as magical. Her essays and short stories have been published in literary journals including Indiana Review and Saint Ann’s Review. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and three kids. To learn more visit www.katejarvikbirch.com
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