Alexei was undercover with a trafficking ring for years as a member of the CIA, hoping to find a way to bring the major players to justice. In the name of the greater good, he did some unspeakable things, but nothing has haunted him more than aiding in the sale of Sasha, a beautiful dancer who he slept with just before he betrayed her. Now the ring has been bust wide open and his new mission is to find a woman lost within the system and take her back to her father. Upon his arrival at the Sheik’s Palace he finds that his target is none other than the ghost from his past and she doesn’t want to leave the Palace and the man that has been her friend for many years.
Once events turn sour, Sasha has no choice but to put her trust into a man who betrayed it so viciously. Once back in the states, secrets start to spill. Sasha has many skeletons within her closet and Alexei’s view of her as the tortured Princess starts to waver. Sasha’s secrets have affected many people and she isn’t an innocent in any sense of the word.
As their attraction starts to flare, their pasts start to threaten any future they could potentially have. Will the faces and actions in their recent past prove to be too difficult for them to overcome?
I’ve thought long and hard about this review and edited it a million times. I’ve come to the conclusion that this review is near impossible to do if I don’t want to tell you one of the many twists that occur during this book. I didn’t know if there would be a HEA in this story because it is a series. Even more than that, I didn’t know if I wanted there to be a HEA because these people had done some truly horrific things. The question that I asked myself throughout the entirety of this book was how far would I go for the greater good? Could I sacrifice a few to save the many? I have to say I am not used to asking myself things like this in a Romance novel!
Alexei and Sasha’s relationship was hard for me to accept. At first, I could not get past the fact that he SOLD her. I couldn’t believe that she could contemplate a sexual relationship with him, couldn’t fathom how she could feel anything other than revulsion towards the man that had forced her into captivity. Yes, she had been lucky, being held by a man who didn’t want a sexual relationship with her, but it could have been so much worse and he wouldn’t have done anything differently.
Then I started to see that Alexei was operating, under instruction, for the greater good. It didn’t make his actions any-more palatable, didn’t make his crimes any less heinous, but I could see a glimmer of good within him. Then we started to find out about Sasha’s past and the sh*t hit the fan again. She did some horrible things too. Her crimes were made under duress rather than instruction, but I started to see that they had common ground. It didn’t make this any easier to read, as these are both people I would happily see locked up for their crimes, but it made it a fairer match.
Someone once asked me what makes a great Romance novel. My answer was that I expected to love the Hero in a good romance, but in an excellent one I loved the Heroine too. I didn’t love either of these two and I don’t know if I was supposed to. Not everyone’s lives are roses and fairytales. Some people have to do some truly heinous things so the rest of us are safe; I didn’t like it but I understood it for what it was. The back-story unfolds throughout the book, each chapter unveiling some new truth that one of the leading couple have to deal with. It was gripping and compelling; I can honestly say that towards the middle of the book I literally could not tear my eyes away from the pages.
The sex scenes in this book are plentiful and very descriptive. There is kink, there is even ménage within the first chapter, but it fits with the intensity of this book. The descriptive nature of the writing adds to the tension and the angst in the book; it turned this into a must read.
This is not your average romance. It deals with themes that are distasteful, characters which may not be salvageable and sex which is unapologetic in its descriptiveness. It is a face paced, throat-gripping drama that made me ask myself questions I never thought I would within this genre. I can’t recommend it enough, but I warn you that it is not an easy ride.