Rating: 4 stars
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FBI Special Agent Leo Gale is deep undercover after infiltrating a sex trafficking ring. When things start going bad, he needs help – something or someone to help him salvage the operation and save the lives of untold numbers of teenagers. But he wasn’t expecting the partner they sent, or his own reaction to his new partner.
Julian has been interning at the FBI with the hopes that it will be a foot in the door to the career he wants as an analyst. What he wasn’t expecting was to be thrown into the middle of a dangerous operation. With his lack of experience and training and with his boyish looks, he is cast out as bait in the hopes of attracting the attention of the merchandisers. Once in, will Leo be able to save him, or will Julian end up forever lost like so many of the other youths?
Typically I do not start off my review explaining my rating…except with this book I am still at a loss as to how I feel about it after having read it twice! To be honest with all of you, there is so very little to “like” about this book – there is organ harvesting, rape, sex trafficking, and other not so pleasant events occurring within these pages. Yet, at the same time, I think that when this series is all said and done, it has the makings for being something stellar – if only some of my questions end up getting solved later on down the road. As this is the first book in what I believe is to be a multi-book series, readers need to be aware that you are not going to get closure at the end of this book. Readers also should know that there is very little in the way of romance happening on the pages. There are glimpses of moments where you think there may be the feelings there, but the situation these two men find themselves in is so bizarre and traumatic for both of them that I wondered whether it is just two people connecting because of necessity or whether there may be something more. Anyway, I rated this book a solid 4 just on the story itself, in its current form, but withhold the right to revise my rating after the entire series is released because this series has the potential of being a solid 5 star!
I also feel the need to warn readers that this book may contain triggers. This book deals with some very dark issues, such as rape, beatings, organ procurement, and sex trafficking. As a fan of this type of book, I have to admit, there were parts of this story that disturbed me greatly – so reader beware.
This book covers the time span of when Leo realizes he is in trouble and the FBI sends him Julian to help bring down the sex trafficking ring, through Julian’s captivity, before jumping ahead almost 2 years to where Leo and Julian see each other for the first time after all this happened.
While Julian’s inexperience was what was needed to get him in to help Leo, it isn’t enough to help him deal with what will happen to him while he is there. Julian clings to Leo, as much as he can, in order to hang on to his sanity in light of what is happening around him. When these two are together, you really want to believe that there is something more going on between them than just each other’s support, yet what is going on in the background is so violent and torturous that you begin to question whether this is just a coping mechanism for both of them. Then we get the ending where there is a hint of something more, but we are left hanging.
Overall, I thought this was a brilliant beginning to what could be a spectacular series, provided that the rest of the series begins to address some of the questions readers will have about Leo and Julian and who these two people were before they went undercover and who they are now after having experienced it.