What first caught my eye about this new series, other than the awesome cover, were the words “Mercenary Librarians”. As I read the concept behind the phrase I was intrigued by the idea of a dystopian world where, in that particular neighborhood, some of the only people willing to help the population were librarians – essentially -collecting, digitizing, and disbursing knowledge, literature, tools, and even food.
Deal with the Devil and the Devil You Know
Deal with the Devil is Orphan Black meets the post-apocalyptic Avengers by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author duo Kit Rocha.
Nina is an information broker with a mission–she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America.
Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive.
They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…
Or they could do the impossible: team up.
This is the first book in a near-future science fiction series with elements of romance.Summary from Goodreads
The Mercenary Librarians and the Silver Devils are back in The Devil You Know, the next installment of USA Today and New York Times bestselling author Kit Rocha’s post-apocalyptic action/romance, with hints of Orphan Black and the Avengers
Maya has had a price on her head from the day she escaped the TechCorps. Genetically engineered for genius and trained for revolution, there’s only one thing she can’t do—forget.
Gray has finally broken free of the Protectorate, but he can’t escape the time bomb in his head. His body is rejecting his modifications, and his months are numbered.
When Maya’s team uncovers an operation trading in genetically enhanced children, she’ll do anything to stop them. Even risk falling back into the hands of the TechCorps.
And Gray has found a purpose for his final days: keeping Maya safe.Summary from Goodreads
So, the concept and the plot drew me in. I knew that there was also a heavy emphasis on the romance in the story, from the sound of the summary and what I knew about the genre, but the last line especially in the Deal with the Devil summary assured me that this would be something I would enjoy. Although I usually steer away from books categorized solely or mainly in the romance genre, I was given the impression this was not one of these books, and I was willing to give it a chance.
The first book exceeded all of my expectations. While the romance was heavy in the plot, it was set up in such a way as to walk side by side with the overall narrative plot. The characters were fun and likable, and the plot was action-packed, with an interesting back story and a very exciting conclusion.
As far as explicit scenes go, there were a few, but you could see them coming from a mile away and skip them quite easily if you were so inclined. The romance was a little too on the side of hot and heavy “damn they look so good in those jeans, I’m drooling” variety for my tastes, but I liked the pairing of Nina and Knox, and was pretty happy with the conclusion.
In fact, through the first book, it was clear that the general setup of the series was that each book would follow a certain couple, but as I said, I liked all the characters, and I liked the pairings that were set up in the first book.
What was important to me was that the romance worked hand in hand with the larger plot, and in Deal with the Devil that was true.
Not so, in my opinion, with The Devil You Know. It almost felt like a bait and switch, the focus of the second book being so different. With the romance of Nina and Knox in the first book, there was a lot of substance with the plot and various POV’s from several of the characters. The action of the plot was never set aside for a romantic scene. In The Devil You Know, Maya and Grey are falling for each other, which is great, but there’s an entire sequence where the team tries to hunt down the bad guy, and Maya and Grey stay home, basically flirting. The thing I have against this sequence is that the POV stayed within the romance, while the action was taking place in the background. I also felt that the romance and the larger plot were not as even in the second book. In fact, there were a lot of places where it felt more like a romance novel than a sci-fi, dystopian novel with romantic elements.
It’s not the book itself that bothers me, so much as how it was marketed to me. And then I felt like it switched up in the middle. I do sort of want to read the next book to see what happens, but I am definitely not as excited about it as I would’ve been.
I’m also not bagging on romance or these kinds of books. It’s just I am not the person who would read them, and I’m honestly a little miffed that, with the first, you had what was promised, a sci-fi/dystopian with romantic elements, and in the second it was more romance with dystopian/sci-fi elements. The focus was different, and that changed the experience for me, drastically.
That being said, I do believe I have a hankering for “super-soldier sci-fi” or “military sci-fi” so if you have any recommendations that are not romance (but romantic elements are fine), I would love that, thank you.