Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “You’re the exception to every rule.”
Lieutenant Ashwin Malhotra is a Makhai soldier–genetically engineered to be cold, ruthless. Unfeeling. His commanding officers consider him the perfect operative, and they’re right. Now, he has a simple mission: to infiltrate Gideon’s Riders, the infamous sect of holy warriors that protects the people of Sector One.
He’s never failed to execute an objective, but there’s one thing he didn’t anticipate–running into Dr. Kora Bellamy, the only woman to ever break through his icy exterior.
When Kora fled her life as a military doctor for the Makhai Project, all she wanted was peace–a quiet life where she could heal the sick and injured. The royal Rios family welcomed her like a sister, but she could never forget Ashwin. His sudden reappearance is a second chance–if she can manage to touch his heart.
When the simmering tension between them finally ignites, Kora doesn’t realize she’s playing with fire. Because she’s not just falling in love with a man who may not be able to love her back. Ashwin has too many secrets–and one of them could destroy her. (Goodreads)
As I added the blurb from the back of the book, I’m not going to recap what the book is about. I will, however, tell you about ALL MY FEELZ!!
I am a huge fan of the writing team Kit Rocha. From their steamy paranormals (written under Moira Rogers) to their post apocalyptic erotic romances, I have devoured everything they have written. I love the strength and equality of the characters who are portrayed in these stories. Strong, intelligent, dynamic people who will do anything for those they love and care for. They aren’t saints by any means but they strive to do what is right in the end. I was extremely pleased to see they would be spinning off the Beyond series and exploring beyond Sector Four.
Gideon’s Riders is based in Sector One. Rocha grants us an exclusive invite to interact with the Riders, their leader-Gideon Rios, and the large and inclusive Rios family. Set approximately six months after the explosive and long reaching arc finale of the Beyond series, new readers can comfortably start here though you miss out on the original world building and inside knowledge on certain scenes, plotlines, and character arcs. Regardless, Rocha does a light recap to help place everyone on the same page starting out.
The first in a new series, Kit Rocha continues to beautifully showcase their skills as talented writers. This glorious world is ever expanding and evolving with nonstop action, suspense and mystery yet balanced nicely with delicious romance and some light-hearted moments. Its perfect blend and consistency is what has makes this series and its creators a must read. A brilliant and emotional read that is as intoxicating and engaging as the series it spins off of. More so in fact because in Ashwin we are able to see the struggle between doing what is expected and doing what is right. We watch a man, whom for all intents and purposes has violently strove to keep his emotions buried deep, finally accept his ‘defects’ and willingly fall in love.
“Will you teach me how to do this right?” His expression was so serious. So earnest. “How to love you?”
The blending of the suspense of the story with the sensual awakening and self-discovery of Ashwin is a fantastic reveal. I will admit I had some stirrings of deja vu when I read about Ashwin and Kora’s backgrounds. Singh does something similar in her Psy/Changeling series though there is no comparison beyond that. Long time fans will find this romance (and perhaps the series-we shall see) isn’t as erotically blatant as the sexual freedom encouraged in the Beyond series though that doesn’t make it any less tantalizing. Ashwin isn’t a novice to sex and carries quite the repertoire of pleasure inducing skills. He knows how to make a woman feel good. However, with Kora, this is the first time he’s ever cared about the woman he’s with. Everything Ashwin does is gauged by Kora’s reactions and emotions. She is his conscious. His leash. She is his everything.
“Lieutenant Malhotra is loyal to exactly one person in the world.”
Nonstop action and rich dialogue fuels the story as you frantically absorb all the nuances and shifts. The plot was remarkable in its elements and I found myself riveted as the story slowly and seductively reveals itself. While there is quite a bit going on, Ashwin is not only a personal journey but also a setup for the world and character base, the clear and concise writing style leaves no confusion.
With each scene we watch Ashwin and Kora learn to embrace who and what they are by opening themselves up to the unknown, forgiving their supposed indiscretions, and embrace the here and now. They bravely face their fears and overcome obstacles while dealing with external factors that try to stop them. Neither plot nor romance is sacrificed. They balance and complement each other through the entire arc.
The supporting cast is intense, well developed, and mesh well with our protagonists to create a full bodied story. Each is more than able to carry their own story and I look forward to reading each one. Complex and convoluted; we see everyone here has an agenda and does not always play by the rules. Alliances are made as enemies come out of the woodwork, threatening the well being of all involved. The differences in the ruling styles and proclaimed “kings” of Sector Four and One are fascinating to learn about. Gideon Rios is literally viewed as a God by his people. They would and have laid their lives down for him and his family. The fact he doesn’t use that to his advantage is interesting. He is one of the most intriguing and secretive people in this world so far and I’m very curious to see who he sees as his “goddess.”
Once again, Rocha leaves me both satisfied and wanting. Ashwin gives readers a seemingly impossible romance while continuing to entice readers to join them in this new world that celebrates love, laughter, and life. Fans of Rocha’s should definitely add this new series to their already overflowing lists.