Deliverance is the “third” book in a series, but it is written as a standalone. There is very little plot from the previous two books and the characters from them turn up for about a half a chapter, only. So I’m calling it a side-quel, and if you haven’t already read The Bonus or Songbird, don’t feel you need to to read Deliverance.
“I’m sending you a girl.”
“She needs sorting out. I’m talking Exit Strategy.”
Exit Strategy. That’s what we call deprogramming these days. You might call it brainwashing. It’s one of my skills. Give me a man whose idea of heaven is a suicide vest, and I can turn him into a peace loving hippy wannabe.
“She’s a white widow?”
“No. Human trafficking victim turned sex slave and mule. She’s a fucking mess.”
Christ, poor little bint. Now I knew why Suarez was calling me.
Mac is all set for an undercover job when an old friend lands him with Pepper, a human trafficking victim of a Moroccan-Turkish crime syndicate. Unable to turn her away, Mac now has two missions: to infiltrate a terrorist training camp in the Sahara and to be a Master for Pepper.
Warning: contains graphic violence and sex.
Standalone novel, no cliffhangers
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Ok, I’m going to be honest from the get-go, this book was a bit of a flop for me. I really liked the first two in the series, but Deliverance was a major departure. To begin with, all those characters we met in the first two novels were not in this one, which takes place in England and Algeria. Chloe and Kyle make very brief appearances, but I was expecting the main characters, Mac and Pepper, to go to Mexico at some point and reconnect with them; especially since Mac and Kyle are close and Chloe and Pepper are close. But they didn’t, and although I can understand what the author was trying to do, I feel like she spent two books developing a community only to completely depart from it.
I hope she writes another novel, and returns to Mexico, but I don’t know who would be the main characters. Generally in romance series, there is an obvious next choice or two, and this time there isn’t.
Another reason that I had trouble with Deliverance is because it repeats a lot of the psychological stuff from The Bonus. Chloe and Pepper were both “Raj’s girls”; they came from the same hellhole, although experiencing different “paths” after they were too old for his pedophile tastes. While Chloe got to escape to a limited degree, as a mule for the organization, Pepper was sold into sexual slavery. She was taken so young by her first owner (seriously wish I could use another word that would work but I can’t) that she cannot remember anything before that. I did like some of the new psychology ideas that the author includes. For example, the development of personality and how some aspects of it are just who we are from birth, but mostly, it is shaped by our experiences, circumstances, and models of behaviour around us. Her discussions of multiple personalities, and how we all have them was very intriguing. If you think about it, it’s true. We all act differently between time spent with co-workers, an employer, casual friends, best friends, different family members … it isn’t an act – at least I hope you don’t feel you have to act – but we are a different self with each different group.
What I didn’t enjoy was the repetitious aspects of trying to break the poor girls out of these learned habits. For example, the personas they adopted to please their “Master” and escape brutality for a bit, like Chloe’s kitten and Pepper’s rodeo-girl. In the bonus it was a good addition to the plot and character development. In Deliverance, it just became too much. I didn’t want to read it, and for that long.
I greatly admire Mac for allowing the poor girl to develop herself within the parameters that he set for her, to protect her. I can see how some might argue that he was abusive himself, but I disagree. It is unusual to find a romance novel that is written almost entirely from the man’s point of view. I don’t really think that that is why I had trouble connecting with this book, I think it was just the lack of major plot points and too much space devoted to character development.
Unfortunately, at the end of the day, there wasn’t enough action for me. I wanted some big dramatic moments and more appearances by past characters. I have to admit, I got bored and skimmed the last third of the book because I just lost interested and didn’t want to DNF this book, especially after loving the first two books so much.