Title: Dearly Beloved
Author: Lia Habel
Series: Gone with Respiration #2
Publisher: Del Ray
Publication Date: September 25, 2012
Number of Pages: 496 Pages
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Can the living coexist with the living dead?
That’s the question that has New Victorian society fiercely divided ever since the mysterious plague known as “The Laz” hit the city of New London and turned thousands into walking corpses. But while some of these zombies are mindless monsters, hungry for human flesh, others can still think, speak, reason, and control their ravenous new appetites.
Just ask Nora Dearly, the young lady of means who was nearly kidnapped by a band of sinister zombies but valiantly rescued by a dashing young man . . . of the dead variety.
Nora and her savior, the young zombie soldier Bram Griswold, fell hopelessly in love. But others feel only fear and loathing for the reanimated dead. Now, as tensions grow between pro- and anti-zombie factions, battle lines are being drawn in the streets. And though Bram is no longer in the New Victorian army, he and his ex-commando zombie comrades are determined to help keep the peace. That means taking a dangerous stand between The Changed, a radical group of sentient zombies fighting for survival, and The Murder, a masked squad of urban guerrillas hellbent on destroying the living dead. But zombies aren’t the only ones in danger: Their living allies are also in The Murder’s crosshairs, and for one vengeful zealot, Nora Dearly is the number one target.
As paranoia, prejudice, and terrorist attacks threaten to plunge the city into full-scale war, Nora’s scientist father and his team continue their desperate race to unlock the secrets of “The Laz” and find a cure. But their efforts may be doomed when a mysterious zombie appears bearing an entirely new strain of the virus—and the nation of New Victoria braces for a new wave of the apocalypse.
Lia Habel’s spellbinding, suspenseful sequel to Dearly, Departed takes her imaginative mash-up of period romance, futuristic thriller, and zombie drama to a whole new level of innovative and irresistible storytelling.
**May contain spoilers from the first book, Dearly Departed, but I will try to make this review as spoiler free as possible**
Dearly Beloved by Lia Habel is a wonderful continuation of the story I fell in love with in Dearly Departed, and has even more villains, mystery, and romance. This story is told again through multiple viewpoints, including a few new faces. Dearly Beloved picks up shortly after the events of Dearly Departed. War is on the edge of starting due to the new strain of the Lazarus virus. Fear causing humans to lash out at the zombies, and zombies retaliating as tensions grow. Everyone is just trying to survive in the new world created after The Siege.
Nora is currently stuck between her old life of the New Victorian Lady, and her new life of fighting beside Bram. Her father wants her to continue her studies, and be a proper lady, while Nora wants the independence she felt when working with Company Z. Bram on the other hand is very unsure of his role outside the Army, and all he wants to do is help. He also wants to make sure Nora is safe and protected during this volatile time. Pamela is anxious and anxiety ridden, she feels like a different person since she fought to survive during The Siege. Vespertine and Michael also make their appearance, and have their parts to play in the story. Laura is a new zombie character that has her own story to tell, commonly called the Flower Girl, because she has planted flowers in herself. Laura is part of a former street gang, now a pro-zombie group called The Changed.
As complications and tensions rise, relationships in the book change and grow. Nora and Bram’s relationship seems only to get stronger but they struggle with the requirement to follow the New Victorian courting rules. Pamela’s relationships with everyone are strained by her anxiety and her refusal to tell anyone about it. Nora and her father’s relationship is strained by his absence, while he is working on a vaccine for the new strain, and by him pushing her to continue her studies and remain an obedient New Victorian lady.
I think that Dearly Beloved had many interesting plot twists and developments throughout the story. I am excited to see where the story is going to go from here, and if the origin of the Lazarus virus may be found. Lia Habel really delivers again with Dearly Beloved, and I am reminded why I loved Dearly Departed so much. My only complaint is that I want to see Pamela become that courageous warrior from the first one, because in this one she is weakened by her anxiety. I can only hope that the events of the next book brings her back to her old self. I truly enjoyed all the new developments in Dearly Beloved, and it has me impatiently waiting the next book.
**Unabridged Bookshelf received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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