Altered by Jennifer Rush

THEY WAlteredERE MADE TO FORGET, BUT THEY’LL NEVER FORGIVE.

Wow! Where do I start!? We always hear people talk about having the memory of an elephant – they never forget a wrong done to them, even if they do forgive that wrong. Well, what if you knew that you were wronged in some manner – living each day caged in a lab is your first clue – but you forgot exactly HOW you were wronged? Would you be able to forgive?

Sam, Nick, Cas and Trev are four young men imprisoned in a basement lab, with little to do but improve their minds and physiques. Their only links to the outside world are Anna and her father, who’s in charge of their care and testing. Anna is the only brightness in their lives, the only measure of sanity. And even she doesn’t know their true purpose.

When the powers that be at Branch, the organization for which her father works, suddenly decide to remove the boys from her father’s care, Anna protests and is caught up in their escape, thrusting her into a violent world. Her father demands a promise from Sam to keep Anna safe, at all costs, especially from Branch and Connor, its enigmatic, charismatic head. He also gives Sam the address of a safe house where they’ll be able to find help.

Upon reaching the safe house, they discover its occupant left in a hurry, and without warning. But when Anna discovers a framed picture of Sam’s birch-tree tattoo on the wall, and within the frame a cryptic message addressed to Sam, a desperate search for answers begins. Who are the boys? Why can’t they remember their pasts? How are they connected to each other, and more disturbing, how are they connected to Anna and why do they seem to not be able to resist the overwhelming need to protect her?

What follows is a race against time to discover their true identities and purpose, before Branch discovers their whereabouts and erases their memories….again.

Jennifer Rush delivers an absolutely thrilling, heart-stopping, page-turning roller-coaster ride in her debut novel! And did I mention the manly torso-bearing scenes? This book is full of muscled hotties! As much as I enjoy YA fantasies, I can often accurately guess the outcome. This one pleasantly surprised me. As is common with a first-person narrated novel, there are many things the reader doesn’t know and may or may not learn during the course of the novel. But I have to say that Anna’s discoveries about her own identity and the betrayal of one of the boys were quite unexpected. While several questions – such as the boys’ connection to Anna and the truth about her own identity – are answered in the story, several more are raised, leaving the reader antsy for the sequel.

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