RELEASE REVIEW: Deacon by Kit Rocha

The Blurb

Ana has trained most of her life to achieve one goal: to prove that anything men can do, she can do better. Now she’s Sector One’s first female Rider, and being the best is the only way to ensure she won’t be its last. Distractions aren’t allowed–especially not her painful attraction to the reserved but demanding leader whose stern, grumpy demeanor has already gotten into her head.

Deacon has spent the last twenty years trying to atone for his past, but the blood he spilled as a mercenary and assassin will never wash away entirely. If his Riders knew the extent of his sins, he’d lose their trust and respect. It’s easier to keep them all at arm’s length, especially Ana. But his newest recruit’s stubbornness is starting to crack his defenses.

And their sparring matches are driving him wild.

The passion sparking between them can’t be denied, but neither can the vengeance barreling toward Deacon. When his old squad comes back to punish him for his betrayal, Ana and the Riders are squarely in the line of fire. The only way to save his people may be to make the ultimate sacrifice.

But first, he has to convince Ana not to follow him straight into hell.

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Let me start by saying that I absolutely LOVE how Kit Rocha writes and develops her heroines. Each woman who has graced the pages of Rocha’s Beyond series and the more recently written Gideon’s Riders series is dynamic, in part, due to her ability to remain empathetic and compassionate even as the world around her explodes into chaos and darkness but also due to the fact that her ‘softness’ is maintained underneath a kickass exterior – one that is every bit as strong and even-tempered as her male counterpart. And, even though the second book in Gideon’s Riders uses the hero’s name as its title, Ana is every bit as essential to Gideon, to the other Riders, and to the people she protects as Deacon is.

The regimented way Gideon’s Riders live is what allows them to be effective as the protectors of Sector One and the traditions of the sector reinforce exactly the type of people who become these warriors and what that means not only for the ‘chosen’ but also for their families. Gideon is very much a traditionalist, but he also understands the need for progress and change, which, in my opinion, is the only reason Ana was allowed to become one of Gideon’s Riders. But even if Gideon is able to keep an open-mind and accept Ana into his fold, there will always be naysayers, those citizens watching and waiting for Ana to make a mistake so that the long held beliefs that women have no place fighting alongside men is validated and reestablished.

What these judgmental people don’t understand, though, is that Ana was made to be a Rider, not just because her father was one and trained her to follow in his footsteps, but due to her own merits as a human being as well as a skilled fighter. Despite her father and Gideon’s certainty that Ana’s true place is with the Riders, she can’t help but feel a significant amount of pressure, not only from the men who fight alongside her, but from young girls who may aspire to follow her lead and defy prescribed gender roles. And if that weight wasn’t enough for Ana to handle, she also has to endure constant scrutiny from the head Rider, Deacon, the very man who she has more than brotherly feelings for, even if Riders are not allowed long-term entanglements.

Deacon’s past is shrouded in darkness firstly because he feels that the sins of his past will force the other Riders to perceive him as a reprehensible and irredeemable man but also because Gideon believes that one’s character is the sum of all of his choices, and Deacon has spent twenty years making noble ones. But regardless of Deacon and Gideon’s respective feelings, the truth must come out, in part because the Riders must fight against the very group of mercenaries that Deacon was once a part of but also because a Rider becomes an idolized beacon for the masses when he takes on this role, even to the other Riders, and he fears that his reputation will be tarnished and that he will be unable to lead as he has done for the last two decades.

Kit Rocha delivers one hell of a story in Deacon and it’s one with several plot lines that all intersect at the story’s conclusion. Deacon’s sorted past, Ana’s self-doubt and emotional state when it comes to her feelings for Deacon, the Suicide King’s true mission, and the protection of Gideon and his loved ones are all factors responsible for determining the outcome of not only what Deacon and Ana mean to one another, but also to how the Riders choose to live and what the cost might be when someone is willing to sacrifice himself for the good of the group when the group doesn’t want that to happen and will stop at nothing, even disobeying orders, to fight against what some might consider inevitable.

Deacon is yet another powerful text from the mind of Kit Rocha; Rocha does a fantastic job in continuing to build the world of Sector One while illustrating its differences to the other sectors and its main objectives after the war with Eden. There’s a pureness in Sector One that is not found anywhere else, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t felt the repercussions of the battle nor will it remain unscathed because there will always be someone or a group of people looking to tear down the powerful in order to secure that power for themselves.

And, with the promise of Ivan’s book coming up next, it will be interesting to see if his position as a Rider and as a man can co-exist when he’s put to the test by a certain Princess who knows her status does not allow her the outcomes she most certainly wants.

4.5 Poison Apples

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