Sunday, August 30, 2015

Characters Who Refuse to be Forgotten- Benjamin "Beans" Carter Rex

When we first meet 'Beans' he is with his best friend Amanda Pennington at her father's funeral. He is a geeky, awkward young man who has been virtually female-repellent his entire life, although he is a gorgeous guy, in reality with raven black hair and dark, dark eyes.  His skin is chalky white, however, and in his early adolescence he was plagued by skin lesions that he describes as "small Mayan temples jutting" from his flesh.

With the death of brilliant physician/geneticist/scientist/bioengineer Leonard Pennington, Amanda is left with all his unfinished business. She has inherited his mountainside laboratory where he conducted many of his experiments. She's familiar with the lab because he used to take her there when she was younger, but when she hit adolescence he stopped taking her. Benny, or 'Beans' as she has always called him, has been a part of her life since she was young. His parents allegedly perished in a flaming car wreck when he was only a few months old. He has been fostered by a couple who were connected to Amanda's father's laboratory. When he turned thirteen, these foster parents gave guardianship of Benny to Pennington, and Pennington installed the teenager in the carriage house apartment on his own estate, with house privileges. 'Beans' and Amanda are close in age, have gone to school together and both have attended Hawthorn University, where Pennington taught and had connections with both the University and it's associated hospital. Beans is now employed there in the computer department- setting up faculty computers, maintaining the system, helping students with computer issues. Amanda is going for her PhD in biomedical engineering. She works in the prosthetics lab where she is developing an artificial limb that is permanent in nature; that will have the capability of allowing the amputee to have feeling in the artificial limb.

Amanda has always adored Benjamin Carter, as she knows him (the Rex, his real surname, having been dropped when he was an infant and taken in by the foster family). Beans has always loved her. But neither one has ever really acted on those feelings until now.  With the death of her father, Amanda is suddenly aware that she can have a fling with Benny if she wants to, and she suddenly wants to. Beans is sort of startled and caught off guard by the idea of intimacy like that with her, but he also wants that-rather desperately.

They are awkward with one another at first and there is some misunderstanding initially, but once they become lovers they discover a surprising, blazing passion for one another.

They also discover, in her father's secret files, some startling, and unnerving truths about themselves. They are genetically altered, bioengineered products of her father's lab tinkering and design. They both have certain unusual abilities built into them- Amanda can literally fly, and she can shoot lightning bolts from her palms and fingertips. She sparks when in a highly emotional state or aroused. she has the ability to sense what other people are feeling. Beans can run inhumanly fast, he can hurl flaming fireballs from the palms of his hands, he has enhanced hearing, and he gets a red glow about him when agitated or aroused. They find the artifact that re-activates these traits in the wall safe in her father's office in the lab building. This artifact is connected to medallions that they have. Amanda has always worn hers and it reactivates when Beans removes the artifact from the safe for the first time. Beans was told to remove his medallion when he was younger, but he still has it. When he puts his back on, his unusual abilities are re-activated- and they discover they have the ability to communicate psychically with one another as well- which was probably why Beans was told to remove his medallion in the past.

There is also a chinchilla lab animal in her father's private lab that they bring home. They soon discover that the chinchilla is also an "archetype" created by Pennington- it turns into a larger, spikey-furred, red-eyed attack animal!

Among all the cartons of lab journals, notebooks and files, they make additional unnerving discoveries- they are not Pennington's first archetypes- there have been others, before them and after.

Layers of deceit and manipulation are peeled back and the young couple has to cope with their abilities, their new relationship, the shocking secrets from the past, the sudden reappearance of Beans' 'dead' parents, Beans' Rex heritage, the shattering discovery that Amanda has a half sister that she never knew about who is also an archetype and who was chosen by Pennington to be impregnated by Beans' donated specimen. Ariana is wildly attracted to Benny because Pennington never removed the genetic programming that was originally designed to bind Amanda and Beans as lovers and creators of the next generation of archetypes, but Amanda has a faulty reproductive system and a pregnancy could kill her. So Pennington uses Ariana who is a breeder archetype, designed to reproduce. Her attraction to Beans is a source of irritation to Ami.

Meanwhile, Beans is trying to cope with the reality that he has parents who are still alive, who left him behind to save their own necks from Pennington who planned to have them murdered so that he could gain control of his male archetype- their son Benjamin. The Rexes have been hiding out in Europe under the name Zinn, and they have a second son, Simon. At first Ami and Beans think Simon is just a normal human being, but there is a connection between their longtime house physician and Pennington's lab assistant- and Simon is not all that he appears to be either.

Beans, meanwhile, experiences the reawakening of memories he has locked down deep inside himself when he and Ami visit the basement of the lab building. He has a total meltdown in a secret rocky cavern that terrifies Ami. Beans remembers that Pennington forced him to destroy all his imperfect archetypes- Beans is a murderer!

Beans is a character who evolves as the novel progresses. In the beginning he is a geeky, awkward young man in his early twenties who has been orphaned, fostered, then taken in by Pennington but who has never had a real family of his own- which he desperately longs for. He experiences a sexual awakening and a passionate love, a sense of belonging someplace and that is with Ami. He is very protective of her when they discover secret passages inside her home. He is jolted when she has a minor meltdown and leaps off the deck of the carriage house apartment- and flies for him for the first time. He's coping with a lot of things, and then he has to deal with the reawakened memories, the return of his 'dead' parents, the fact that he has a handsome, younger brother who has lived the life he has always dreamed about having, the fact that Amanda's sister was impregnated with his sample without his knowledge and that Ariana lusts after him, and then the fact that someone is out to kill both him and Amanda. He suddenly has more than any one young man can handle and cope with on his plate.  He is struggling with it, working through it, and trying to find his true self through all of this turmoil that has suddenly erupted and made his life chaotic after twenty-something years of being somewhat of a loner with only Ami for a friend.

Beans has to decide for himself whether or not he wants to be a Rex. Thaddeus and Scarlett are his natural parents. Pennington altered his genetic make-up and tinkered with him in the lab, but essentially, he is still a Rex, and the Rexes have certain traits that he also possesses- great passion, and cold-blooded ruthlessness,  It's finding the balance between the two that is his challenge- and by the end of the novel, he has found that balance and is comfortable, at last, with who he is.

Beans just sprang to life on the pages and came into his own basically on his own. The Archetypes-First Generation is essentially about Amanda Pennington's discovery of what her father has done in creating archetypes like herself and Beans. She also is struggling to come to grips with all the lies, deceit and manipulation that has crumbled her carefully crafted life. Beans is her sidekick, who suddenly becomes her equal partner- and together they make a strong couple.

And in their great passion for one another, they create a son of their own- Tiger.  Tiger and his 'cousin' Pierce (Ariana's son from Beans' donation, and now Simon's son since he marries Ariana) are second generation archetypes since they are both the product of two archetypes without lab tinkering.

There is a sequel to The Archetypes-First Generation that will be published next year in which Beans and Amanda are still dealing with the results of her father's mad science, threats to their and their families' lives, and a terrifying discovery that all the original archetypes Pennington had created in his lab have been preprogrammed to destroy one another at some unknown point in time. Amanda must rush to find an antidote that will save her family from self destruction.

Beans remains one of my favorite characters because he has an epic struggle to rise above a rather sad and lonely past as he seeks to find his own true self through an ever expanding web of lies.

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