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.
In Kit Rocha’s Beyond Series, readers were introduced and integrated into a diverse society – one that has an eclectic group of citizens and one that includes bountiful areas of debauchery, corruption, and righteousness. And now that the Sectors have fought back against Eden and its holier than thou attitude, proving that its corrupt politicians and the walls of Eden were no longer impenetrable, Kit Rocha takes readers beyond the O’Kane crew and Sector Four, offering insight into Sector One – an area seen as a holy land and refuge to some and a possible threat to others.
But for Ashwin Malhotra and Kora Bellamy, it’s a second chance to explore what’s between them, even if Ashwin’s supposed to be an unfeeling, genetically enhanced solider and Kora’s a doctor and a woman who feels too much, so much so that it’s possible for her to become as unstable as Ashwin, complicating Ashwin’s mission against the Riders and their leader, Gideon Rios, and proving that regardless of Ashwin’s recalibrated system and the intense reprogramming he went through in order to strip away any thoughts or feelings he had for Kora, Kora was and still is Ashwin’s weakness and the more time they spend together in Sector One away from the prying eyes and the manipulation of the Base, it’s clear that a genetically enhanced human still has the potential to choose and act based on his free will, especially when it comes to an undeniable connection and a chance at something more than what he’s ever known or felt.
Gideon Rios and his holy warriors, the Riders, are an intriguing group. The Riders’ devotion to Gideon and his efforts to help those in need, providing aid and shelter for refugees, makes citizens from other Sectors, Eden, and the Base consider him dangerous and try their hand at bringing down Gideon’s reign, which is why the Base wants Ashwin to infiltrate the Riders and gauge Gideon’s state of mind as well as the reason for his people’s devotion.
Kit Rocha, once again, allows readers into their masterfully constructed world of chaos, corruption, and anarchy. Sector One seems to be a holy land of sorts – one committed to protecting those in need as well as ensuring Gideon’s people a way of life that is unlike any other Sector. Kora Bellamy’s royal status and her purpose in Sector One is clear, which is something neither Ashwin nor the Base figured into their infiltration plan, and an issue that provides all kinds of trouble for everyone involved as well as new opportunities for Ashwin and Kora – ones they never would have had if the Base wouldn’t have seen a use for Ashwin’s many talents as well as his reconditioned enhancements.
The Gideon Riders’ series may not focus on Sector Four, but its members still have a role in the events that play out within the other Sectors and the degrees of separation of those who now live in Sector One to the O’Kanes is minimal, so readers still get to check up on the characters we’ve grown to love over the course of Kit Rocha’s Beyond Series.
The Riders of Sector One are an interesting group of warriors whose stories I’m sure will be just as adventurous as their missions are, and the fact that Deacon and Ana’s story is up next has definitely piqued my curiosity since he’s Gideon’s badass Second in Command and Ana’s the new Rider – a female hellbent on proving her strength as well as her commitment to the male dominated soldiers.
4.5 Poison Apples
Excerpt from Ashwin
He moved slowly. Precisely. It was everything she’d ever known of Ashwin—his seriousness, his meticulous attention to detail—distilled into the gentle glide of his hands as they traced down her arms and over her sides.
He didn’t strip off her dress all at once. He took his time, gathering the soft blue fabric in his fists and coaxing it up inch by inch. It tickled over her skin, an unending caress that he dragged out until the breath she was holding escaped on a moan.
“I have a plan,” he murmured as the dress cleared her head, sending her tousled hair cascading around her face. Ashwin dropped the dress and smoothed the locks back from her cheeks, his fingertips lingering to caress the shell of her ear. “I formulated it when you came to me last night, but I’ve been revising and refining it all day.”
“All—” Her voice broke, and she swallowed—hard. “All day? Surely it’s not complicated enough to warrant that.”
“It’s not about being complicated.” He brushed glancing, maddening touches over her back and the line of her spine on his way to the clasp on her bra. One efficient twist of his fingers and the fabric went loose, one strap slipping from her shoulder. “It’s about being thorough. A man who wouldn’t be meticulous in devising the best way to give you pleasure is a man who doesn’t deserve to touch you.”
“Really?” Another moan built in her throat, and she released it on a shaky sigh. “I think figuring it all out should be part of the fun.” She touched his face, drawing a line from his cheekbone to the corner of his mouth, and smiled when he sucked in a breath. “See?”
Something dangerous burned in his eyes as he turned his head to nip at her fingers. It almost hurt, and the sensation zipped along her nerve endings like an electric shock.
She was trembling now, so she dropped her hand to his shoulder and pulled at the soft cotton of his shirt in silent demand.
He answered by lifting his arms.
Kora didn’t have his patience. She jerked at the fabric, and it caught on his chin and tangled around his arms. He helped her by stripping it away and letting it fall to the floor.
She’d seen him half naked more times than she could count. Most of their interactions had involved his partial nudity. It was different now that she was undressed, too, and that look in his eyes—
Kora slid her arms around him, traced the scratches she’d left on his shoulders the night before, then stepped back until her legs hit the edge of the mattress.
He followed her, looming over her for a dizzying moment before sinking to his knees. He smoothed his thumb over the edge of her simple black panties as his gaze drifted up to hers. “You’ve touched yourself before, haven’t you?”
The question surprised her—and it shouldn’t have. The fact that he wasn’t sure he could feel emotion had no bearing on his sexual experience. He’d mentioned other women, and he must have had domestic handlers.
He’d had sex before. Probably lots and lots of it. She was the inexperienced one here. “I have.”
“Show me.” He caught one of her hands and pressed it to her abdomen, her fingers spread wide beneath his. But instead of guiding her down, he slid their hands up. When she was cupping her breast, he let his touch fall away.
Her cheeks heated, but she didn’t look away as she squeezed her fingers together, pinching her nipple between them. She shivered at the sudden spike of pleasure, more intense because he was watching her so closely.
“You don’t mind it either, do you?” The sudden warmth of his breath on her abdomen kept her shivering. He soothed her with an open-mouthed kiss and the gentle brush of his tongue, so sweet she wasn’t ready for the sudden shock of his teeth closing on her skin. “A little bit of pain.”
Her voice failed her, so she shook her head.
“It’s all right.” He hooked his fingers under her panties and dragged them lower. His mouth followed, hot against her hip and so, so soft. “Sometimes pain is a warning. But like this, with someone you trust…” She anticipated the jolt this time, but she still swayed when his teeth sank into her skin. “It’s a different kind of sensation.”
Her knees would barely hold her. “Ashwin…”
About the Author
Kit Rocha is the pseudonym for co-writing team Donna Herren and Bree Bridges. After penning dozens of paranormal novels, novellas and stories as Moira Rogers, they branched out into gritty, sexy dystopian romance.
The series has appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists, has been nominated for best erotic romance in the RT Reviewer’s Choice award four times, and won in 2013.