Disclaimer: I was sent a digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Ashwin Malhotra was "bred" for one purpose only, to be the best, most loyal, most efficient soldier he could be. As a result, he is feared by all, as only a dog trained to kill by birth, can be feared. As a Makhai soldier, emotion should have been tortured out of him long ago. And it is... or so he tells himself. The one true exception to that rule is the most forbidden of them all.... Dr. Kora Bellamy.
Kora is everything a Makhai soldier isn't. Emotional and compassionate to an extreme degree, she is the best at what she does, which is saving other people's lives. Being naturally kind, she sees in Makhai soldiers what other people overlook... emotion may be hidden deep within after someone teaches you to relay it with pain but it doesn't really go away. And especially in Ashwin's case, she needs to believe that the emotions he stirs in her aren't one-sided.
But a relationship between them isn't simple... Ashwin is a man not allowed to love and Kora is a woman many would kill to have. But the worst enemy may not be outsiders but Ashwin's fierce need to protect her, no matter how much protecting her may damage them...
Here we are, everyone! The "Beyond" spin-off we've all been waiting for. The Gideon's Riders series gives us a different look at the world we've fallen in love with (well, maybe that's not totally right. I don't find myself wistfully wishing I lived in a dystopian universe, but you know what I mean). This time our beloved O'Kanes aren't front and center. While they're still mentioned, and they'll make appearances, the series' main concern is away from sector four.
I was hesitant to read this one. From my past reviews, it's obvious that I started to have some issues with the Beyond series, no matter how much I loved those books, and this series doesn't star many characters I cared much about. But I've definitely been a fan of Kit's work in the past so I was all for giving Ashwin a go.
It wasn't my favorite of all the Kit Rocha books I've read. Try as I might, I didn't find myself being very invested in the characters. Between the two, I liked Ashwin more, he had more depth, at least in my opinion. His 'modifications' gave his character an edge that I liked well enough, even if he ranks fairly low on my list of this world's male characters (For reference, Bren -Beyond Pain, #3 Beyond series-tops that list). It didn't help much that Kora got on my nerves. To be honest, I don't even know why. She was written to be a likeable character. She was given a backstory...But it happens. Even a favorite author can't get things 100% every time. These characters are supposed to be like real people to us readers, and you can't like everyone that you encounter. This did, unfortunately, have an impact on my enjoyment of the book as a whole, however. It lagged a bit for me, and I found myself wanting to roll my eyes depending on the perspective I was reading.
All that being said, I do have high hopes for the rest of the series, especially the books following characters whose histories are rooted firmly in the sectors.