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REVIEW

"A phenomenal superhero romance, a brilliant debut!"

The Superhero romance genre is small but what is available runs the gamut from the larger than life, comic bookish variety to the dark, edgy type you might compare to Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight" 2008 Batman movie. PHENOMENAL GIRL 5 falls into the latter category and it totally knocked my socks off! The character driven tale made me cry more than once, it felt so real. I read it all in one sitting because I simply couldn't put it down.

The story takes place in Megalopolis and is narrated by Lainey Livingston a.k.a. Phenomenal Girl 5 (she had 4 predecessors, either retired or deceased). A power plant accident which killed both of her parents (her mother had lived just long enough to give birth to her) was responsible for her powers of super strength and flight.

Lainey had been thrown into the foster care system until her powers had emerged in her preteen years. Then she'd been tested and sent to The School For Children With Supernatural Powers. Having no family, she'd always felt like a misfit. She'd been a loner in school and frequently tormented by her peers. Her sole focus was to someday become a member of the top superhero cadre the Elite Hands of Justice, and they only took the cream of the crop. The team had visited the school once and as luck would have it she'd been locked in the closet by her tormentors. But she'd been let out by a tall and handsome team member who had given her the hope that she had what it took.

Lainey had worked her way through the ranks working with the Red Knights before going to law school, and then she'd joined the Power Squad. She'd been pre-tested for the EHJ several times and then at last she'd gotten an interview with their leader Benjamin Rath. Having passed muster with Rath, Lainey still had one more obstacle to overcome -- a two year training period, partnering with the reclusive and powerful Reincarnist. The former EHJ member had recently been responsible for the wash out of the last candidate, Pushstar. Talk about daunting, but Lainey vows not to let Robert Elliot intimidate her.

Robert Elliot, the current incarnation of the Reincarnist, is a top level magic-user and considered to be the most intelligent man alive due to living multiple lives (Dr. Who style). He'd been a pirate, a poet, and a soldier among other things. He'd lived in many places and fought in every major war the world had known. He'd died a hundred deaths but each time he'd regenerated at the cellular level and remerged at age 20, a new man. He'd always retained enough memory to continue in his role but more often than not had kept no memories of those who had been near and dear to him in his previous life. Having to live with the pain and resentment of those he'd forgotten wore on his soul. Robert was standoffish to say the least. He'd once been a member of the EJH, having founded it in a past life, but had withdrawn from active membership because the group had become too commercial. He was distant, formal, in other words he drove Lainey crazy! But there was something in his eyes, a soft kindness that drew her in spite of herself. In Robert's defense, Lainey is completely unlike any trainee he's dealt with before.

There's something different about Lainey Livingston from her choice of costume, so practical compared to the sexy, flashy uniforms of her predecessors, to her sassy mouth. She challenged him. Robert found that he enjoyed partnering with her, perhaps a bit too much. She was unique, a pure soul, driven to heroism, and in his opinion the grandstanding EJH was not worthy of her. It is the purity of her soul that finds her the focus of a fiendish plot by a new threat "The Dragon" to unleash his master, the Dark One, on an unsuspecting world.

With the EJH off world dealing with alien affairs instead of attending to their own, it's up Robert and Lainey to deal with the threat. But, its Lainey that The Dragon needs to create the "Darklight" who would someday unleash the Dark One on the world, and Robert will do anything, even if it means sacrificing what could be his last life, to keep her safe. Should he return he knew that chances were good that he would have no memory of their time together. Either way he'd lose her, but he couldn't imagine a world without her in it. Such a world wouldn't be worth saving.

Ms. Menden's characterizations are so brilliant that for the reader Megolopolis, the world, the EJH, and even the fiendish plot come in a distant second to the relationship evolving between Lainey and The Reincarnist. The story forces the reader to invest their own emotions, ripping us apart and putting us back together again. All I can say is Wow! PHENOMINAL GIRL 5 is a stunning debut - a definite keeper - highly recommended!

But that's not all! Book 2, TEKGRRL, featuring EJH heroine Mindy Clark is on the way. I can't wait.

Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted August 5, 2008

SUMMARY

True love can be super rough...

**A PNR Staff Top Pick**

Lainey Livingston has just been made a member of the Elite Hands of Justice, the world's premiere cadre of superheroes. Her work with the Red Knights and the Power Squad was impressive; her apprehension stats are above normal, and her great strength and ability to fly are equally remarkable. But no one gets a free pass to active duty, and Lainey's next test is going to be her hardest. She's to train with the Reincarnist.

Robert Elliot, the Reincarnist. A magician who has lived multiple lifetimes, he's the smartest man in the world - and Lainey's last obstacle. He was personally responsible for seeing Pushstar wash out. But his eyes are the softest, kindest that Lainey has ever seen, and he's just the sort to knock her for a loop. Lesson #1: Romantic entanglements among crime fighters are super exploitable, and falling in love with a man who "can't die" is like waving a red flag at a bull. Especially not when the most fiendish plot ever is about to break over Megalopolis like a wave of fire.

Debut Novel!

Read an Excerpt

 

Phenomenal Girl 5
(Elite Hands of Justice: Book 1)
by A. J. Menden

Love Spell (Shomi)
November 1, 2008
Available: November 1, 2008
ISBN #0505527863
EAN #9780505527868
368 pages
Paperback
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Other Books by
A. J. Menden

Sorceress, Interrupted
Tekgrrl


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