Wow, this was not what I was expecting. This feels a little like what if Harvey Dent was not disfigured and Batman was secretly in love with him? Except Harvey is Sabrina Sloane, the Governor of Illinois, and the Batman character is Marisol Soltero, an antihero criminal Queenpin. They met ten years prior to the main story, and ever since then, Marisol was Sabrina's shadow. They're thrown together again, when, in a weirdly prescient plot point, Marisol saves Sabrina from an assassination attempt. Instead, they're both kidnapped and must work together to get out alive.
Well, this came out of left field. I honestly wasn't sure about this one, because of the darker themes it promised, and it is hard to really balance that grit out with some hope. But dang, this is done so well. Marisol's character and life is well plotted, utilizing flashbacks to help slow down the break neck pace a bit. I love that there are hints for what Marisol is doing in the shadows of her criminal enterprise, but when its revealed, its done so well that it doesn't lose any of its punch. Shepard avoided switching between Marisol's and Sloane's perspectives too much, giving most of the storytelling duties to Marisol, and it works so well. Marisol is a compelling narrator and having events playing out through her eyes was great.
I loved almost every second of this book, but I do have to side eye the sex scene in the middle of an escape attempt a bit. I understand that these two women were finally able to express their feelings for each other, and that they did not know if they'd even be together, whether they died or made it out of their ordeal alive. It wasn't sudden, but time and place is important. That's just about the biggest gripe of the book, especially since the emotional climax was beautifully done I didn't need them to connect physically at that time.
This is dark, pretty violent, but is also full of hope and goodness. Sloane and Marisol are well balanced characters, and one of the few examples where they don't have to grow that much to make them compelling. It is well paced, with some really great action sequences, some slower moments, and some truly emotionally impactful ones. This was a lovely surprise, and is quite possibly my favorite book this month.
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