Lloyd Salter doesn’t do particularly well with people. He is bothered by noise and messiness and all the things that go along with humans. In fact, his ex-boyfriend sarcastically suggests Lloyd would be better off dating an android since no one else would meet his standards. As Lloyd takes time to ponder the idea, however, he realizes that may actually be just what he needs. Lloyd orders an elite A-Class 10 android from SATinc. The A-Class are “fully compatible” units, which mean that in addition to being incredibly lifelike, his Synthetic Human Android UNit (aka SHAUN) is also perfectly matched to Lloyd intellectually, emotionally, and sexually.
When he meets Shaun, Lloyd can’t believe how perfect the android is for him. Shaun can debate literature, is quiet and tidy, and physically he turns Lloyd on like crazy. Lloyd is surprised that in addition to looking incredibly human, Shaun psychologically and emotionally seems so human as well. He expresses his interests and his desires, takes initiative, and shows forethought, all things even the advanced A-Class androids should not be able to do.
Slowly Lloyd comes to realize that Shaun is not like other androids of his type; in fact, he is not like any other android out there. Lloyd realizes that if SATinc ever figures out what they have built in Shaun, there is no way they will let Lloyd keep him. But Lloyd has fallen in love with Shaun, and Shaun returns his feelings. Now the two must figure out how they can keep the company who knows everything about them from finding out what Shaun really is, or they risk losing what has grown between them.
Oh, this was so good you guys! All the feelings! I am not sure how N.R. Walker manages to make a story about a human and an android so incredibly sweet, romantic, and sexy, but she does it wonderfully in Evolved. I seriously got so caught up in the story I pretty much shirked all my responsibilities so I could plow straight through it.
There are so many interesting layers here and the dynamic between Lloyd and Shaun in particular is just fascinating. Shaun is literally built to Lloyd’s specifications, the absolute perfect partner. We can see that Lloyd has always struggled with people not being able to understand him, as well as his own inability to really relate to others. But with Shaun, he has someone who engages him mentally and physically and who meets all of Lloyd’s needs. You can’t help but adore Shaun here as he is wide-eyed and enthusiastic about everything, eager to learn and grow and curious about the world. And it is so rewarding to see how much Lloyd comes to need Shaun, even though he is technically the caretaker in the relationship. There is something just really sweet and lovely about these guys together. Not to mention super sexy, as Shaun is Lloyd’s ideal partner in every possible way.
I found the world building really interesting here, and while aside from the technology differences things are very similar to our modern world, there are some twists that I really enjoyed. What I think works particularly nicely is the way Walker works in the advances in android technology and the internet, and weaves them within some key ethical and social issues, like the need for consent from the androids. Lloyd is a kind and caring man, constantly sensitive to Shaun’s needs. Walker explores all these issues really well, integrating them seamlessly into the larger story.
What really makes this book for me, however, are the emotions. Walker just really made me believe in this relationship. And not just believe, but root for these guys so strongly. I just adored them together, and let me just say that when Shaun is threatened, my heart was in my throat. Thankfully there is a very happy ending here, but for a while I was just distraught as these guys face losing one another. They are just such an engaging pair and I absolutely adored this book. So if you are looking for a warm, sexy, and romantic story with a futuristic bent and some interesting social issues to explore, I can highly recommend Evolved.