Rating: 4.75 stars
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Sawyer is stuck working his bookstore job in the quiet mall while everyone else seems to be out watching the big meteor shower. But it is not all bad. He gets to work all alone with his boss Jesse whom Sawyer finds totally hot. The pair have been bickering and dancing around each other for a while now, but with the store practically dead, they finally act on their attraction with a hot quickie in the store bathroom. But the afterglow is quickly shattered as screams fill the mall and soon the men find themselves under siege by the walking dead.
Jesse and Sawyer just manage to escape with their lives, seeking refuge at Jesse’s house. But even that is not safe, especially as they find out people are dying all around them. It seems almost everyone has been infected somehow, and even those that escaped turning into zombies are being horrifically attacked and killed. With their lives falling apart around them, Jesse and Sawyer gather up their few remaining loved ones — Sawyer’s best friend Chloe and her brother Jaden, and Jesse’s best friend and ex-boyfriend Topher — and set out on the road.
Of course, there is pretty much nowhere to go and nothing safe. Power is out, supplies are scarce, towns have been decimated, and the Infected seem to be everywhere. The government and military are overzealous in their attempts to solve the problem, putting the guys more at risk rather than helping. The world is falling apart around them and the only thing that is holding Sawyer together is his relationship with Jesse. But at the same time, Sawyer finds himself falling for Topher as well. He is coming to love both men, but knows being with both is impossible. But with people dying and their lives threatened at every turn, just finding a way to survive will be the biggest challenge.
So wow, this was an exciting story. I really didn’t know what to expect here. I just heard “zombies” and “menage” and I was in. But this story was thrilling from the moment the first zombie tries to attack in the bookstore and really never slows down until the final pages. It is is full of suspense, and excitement, and genuine horror. I mean, it is gory, and scary, and people get eaten, and I truly felt the danger around every turn. It is hard to sustain that much intensity throughout such a long book, but Shepherd really delivers here and I loved the thrills I got from reading.
At the same time, this is definitely a romance too (complete with sexy hotness). While Sawyer and Jesse’s relationship really just begins at the start of the story; they have known each other a long time and the intensity of the situation really binds them together quickly. It is clear that they are each gathering support from the other and have not only an attraction, but a true bond with one another. Topher enters the romantic side of things fairly late in the story, so most of the romance centers around Jesse and Sawyer as a couple, but once he is involved things heat up even more. I enjoyed them together and could really see how they worked as a threesome and why.
Sawyer is our narrator and the story is told from his first person POV. Sawyer isn’t your typical alpha hero. He is scared most of the time and is often totally falling apart mentally. Jesse and Topher are much more the leaders of the group, the strong and the brave and the ones who jump into the action. I sort of liked Sawyer being a bit nontraditional though and I liked the way he balances out so nicely with the other two men. Because of the POV, I don’t feel I had nearly the same sense of Topher and Jesse as we only see them through Sawyer’s eyes. But I found them all likable and a nice fit together.
For as much as we follow the day to day journey of this group struggling for survival, the story also reflects nicely the bigger picture of what is going on in the world. They all discuss the future, what it will be like to try to rebuild society from the ground up, and at times, whether living is even worth it under the conditions they will face. Even if they manage to survive the outbreak, the idea of trying to build a life again is incredibly daunting.
For the most part this book really worked for me with a few minor quibbles. At times the prose leaned a bit too much to the dramatic to me. And as is often the case in thriller stories, the guys seemed to be horny at awfully inappropriate times. And Sawyer seems to spend a lot of time bitting on his lip ring. But overall, nothing too major.
So I really liked this one you guys! I Am Here is the first book in a planned trilogy. This story definitely has a clear ending and a nice resolution. But we don’t learn the full details behind what caused the zombie infestation and presumably that will come as the series continues. So while this book could probably stand alone, if you are like me you will be eagerly awaiting the next installment. So if you are looking for a good thriller with lots of excitement and suspense, and enjoy a little horror mixed in with your romance, I’d definitely recommend it.
P.S. Oh, and I will mention that there is an instance of cheating here between two of the men prior to them forming the threesome. They work through it on the way to building their relationship together, but if you are a “no cheating, no way” kind of person just be aware.