REVIEW: IVAN by Kit Rocha

It’s finally here! The story of a sheltered princess, a brooding bodyguard, and a secret, forbidden affair…



As the sheltered princess of Sector One, Maricela’s life is defined by duty: to her people and to her family. Her wealth and influence have allowed her to build a better world, but they come with a price—the responsibility to secure political stability with a practical marriage. Maricela cherishes the idea of marrying for love, but there’s not much romance in the endless line of suitors interested only in prestige and power.

And her handsome, brooding new bodyguard isn’t helping the situation.

Ivan is the perfect, deadly warrior, a man trained from childhood to be the ultimate protector to the Rios family. His focus on keeping her safe is intense–and a little intoxicating. When the threat of danger cracks his icy control, Maricela realizes she’s not the only one fighting against temptation.

Ivan knows that the blood on his hands makes him unworthy of the pure-hearted princess. But from the first kiss, their forbidden affair feels inevitable. He can give her a glimpse of life outside her gilded cage and a lover who wants the woman instead of the crown. The only thing he can never do is promise her forever.

Because spurning her noble suitors to marry her bodyguard wouldn’t just be a scandal. It could set off a political firestorm that would tear Sector One apart.


Duty before Love…Love before Duty

That’s the situation that Maricela finds herself in as the princess of Sector One, and while her head understands the need to find a noble suitor who can ensure ‘political stability’ with a ‘practical marriage,’ her heart is tied up in her big, broody bodyguard who would gladly give up his life so that she remained unharmed, even if his death would destroy her as much as not following her heart seems to be doing.


That’s a word that Ivan understands because it’s been drilled into his head since he was a young boy. He’s been trained his entire life to serve and protect the Rios family, and he has done so with stoicism, not allowing anything to break his concentration, assessing all potential threats and doing everything in his power to ensure the safety of those family members under his protection.

But even a controlled man like Ivan can lose his focus when the woman he has wanted is as close to him as she can be yet as off-limits as any woman has ever been. Ivan’s past has forced him to believe that he is unworthy of someone as beautiful and pristine as Maricela is, and those feelings of inadequacy force him to put her up on a pedestal, doing anything she asks of him, but what Maricela truly wants is not something Ivan can truly give her because of the dictates of the Sector as well as Maricela’s position as princess of Sector One.

The first two books in the Gideon’s Riders series have focused on the power struggles as well as the camaraderie of the mostly male crew, but in Maricela and Ivan’s story, Kit Rocha allows readers an intimate look into the female bonds that have been established in Sector One and how they seem to be each other’s lifeline in a male dominated and controlled environment. Maricela as well as the other women are strong, independent and willful despite the sheltered lives they seem to live and the constant protection by Gideon’s Riders.

What I loved most about Maricela is that she would be the first to say she’s led a charmed life…she’s wanted for nothing, and she is incredibly grateful for the life she’s been given, but it doesn’t mean that her life hasn’t felt like she’s lived in a ‘gilded cage,’ and that her thoughts and feelings, at times, have not only not been considered but actually ignored, proving just how little control she has of her own life and the decisions that truly matter to her. 

The slow burn that surrounds Ivan and Maricela when it comes to their hidden feelings for one another is definitely at the forefront of the story, but there are other plot lines, as well, that help move the series forward, adding complications to the serenity of Sector One and putting Gideon in a rather tenuous position, leaving readers to wonder how the presumed power struggle will play out and what Gideon will do with the new facts that have been revealed.

Love before duty…that’s what Maricela wants…that’s what she can’t help but go after, but what that means for her position as princess as well as the entire dynamics of Sector One may be more than she or Ivan are willing to weather.

4.5 Poison Apples

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.

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