Review by Lauryn Angel
Kit Rocha’s Deal With the Devil is marketed as “a cross between Orphan Black and the Avengers,” with a trio of “mercenary librarians” heading the team– which is totally my cup of tea. Unfortunately, this description creates expectations that the book does not deliver on.
This first book in the Mercenary Librarians series introduces us to a post-apocalyptic United States, which the characters located in Georgia. All of the characters are fugitives of a sort – either former super-soldiers or genetically enhanced in some way – to say more would be too spoilery.
Nina is the head of the “librarians,” a group rounded out by Maya and Dani. It’s more accurate to call them archivists than librarians. While they do collect and reproduce books, they are interested in preserving much more. Among other things, they use the knowledge they have acquired to support their neighborhood – providing protection and medical care to the community, among other things.
Enter Garret Knox and his team – the Silver Devils. Knox must rescue a member of his team from a mysterious kidnapper – and he has to deliver Nina to do it. When his attempts to pluck her from the streets of Atlanta prove fruitless, he hatches a plan to lure her out – a Rogue Library of Congress with documents believed to be lost when the official Library of Congress shut down.
The world-building is decent, and there’s a good amount of action. And since Kit Rocha is known for romance fiction, I expected some steamy scenes. But ultimately, the novel didn’t grab me because the characters were too flat. The novel also switches point-of-view with every chapter. Curiously, some chapters indicate which perspective they are from, while others do not. For the most part, the story is told from the perspectives of Nina and Knox, and often, the authors switch between these two perspectives in one chapter. Because of this constantly shifting perspective, I didn’t feel particularly connected to any of the characters.
Does this mean I didn’t enjoy the book? On the contrary: I liked it. This is perfect reading for the current times. I needed something that didn’t require too much mental energy and allowed an escape from the doom and gloom of the news for a little while. Will I read the next two books in the series? Probably. I didn’t love this book, but I hold out hope that now that the groundwork has been laid out, the next books will spend more time developing the characters beyond how tough they are and how much sexual tension they generate.
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