Living in a sordid world of lies and deception, Alexei has one lovely week with a beautiful woman, Irina. She is the only woman to have ever stirred him by giving herself whole-heartedly to him right up until the time he betrays her and sells her into slavery. As he prepares to turn her over to the slavers, he holds her and feels the deepest level of regret that will haunt him afterwards.
Sasha has been sold into slavery, but by some happenstance, hers is not a harsh lot. The middle son of the sheik who bought her takes her as a gift. He brought her into his household where she functions much as a housekeeper and friend. She has lived for two years under the protection of Saaed. Saaed never once touches her until the day he comes to her and tells her that he has no choice but to comply with a request from his fellow sheiks. They are returning to the business of drugs, arms dealing and slavery and, though he wants nothing to do with all that, he is forced to comply or they’ll harm his family. His first step is to honor the request of a successful slaver to spend time in bed with one of the slaves- ‘to sample the merchandise’ so to speak. Saaed promises that she will only feel pleasure and that he will make up a three-some with the man.
This request sets off a sequence of events that no one could have predicted. Things are not what they seem is almost the theme of this story. From the get-go, it is a bundle of excitement, eroticism and painful actions. The hero and heroine are mere players on a chess board with their moves orchestrated by more than two players.
I know that I am being vague about the plot, but there is a reason. I don’t want to spoil the incredible feeling of discovery I had as each layer was pulled back page by page to reveal another lie or, more exciting, another truth which is always painful or dangerous. I will say that it is a flight from danger type book with sizzling passion between two people that struggle with their mutual feelings and try to deny them. This means the relationship between the hero and heroine provided a great deal of tension through much of the book. There is not only the feeling of discovery, but there are moments of heart-stopping action that come out of the blue and had me flipping pages at a clipping rate just to see what was going to happen next.
As to characters, there are many in this story and it is really tough to distinguish friend from foe. The story is told in several different perspectives including that of the bad guys. Trust me! This did not give me an advantage of knowing what was going to happen next. It just added to the mayhem. I was so proud of myself to smell a rat on two occasions before, indeed, the rat was revealed.
These characters were written with depth and it seemed that every word, look and action was really important. The main characters were just- wow! I loved them-flaws and all- even if after a while I was ready for them to just toss out those big truth bombs and see what happened leaving no secrets between them (have to admit that those scenes were some of the best in the book when they did come). They went through hard brutal things and neither were whiners or over the top with their reactions (I can’t tell you how refreshing that is when an author gets a character’s behavior just right with the reactions to circumstances). The tenderness and selflessness showed so brightly against the backdrop of evil that was going on around and sometimes between them.
Word of warning- the book does include some brutal scenes, human trafficking, mfm ménage just in case those are concerns for other readers.
I recommend this book highly for the romantic suspense lover who enjoys their reading to be a hot as Hades romance with a darker and grittier suspense.
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