Rating: 5 out of 5
Anyone who’s read Kit Rocha’s “Beyond” books will recognize the delirious blend of danger, sci-fi super-soldiers, post-apocalyptic grunge, and erotic romance found in Deal with the Devil: A Mercenary Librarians Novel. Nina is an information broker–and unexpectedly tough. Together with Dani (a former bodyguard with insane reflexes) and Maya (former data courier with perfect audial recall) she trades information for money in order to fund their real activities: supporting their neighborhood. They print out books as needed. They dehydrate foodstuffs to last. They’re doing everything they can to make life better in a very stratified world. Decades earlier, solar storms and flares put an end to traditional governments and hierarchies. Now there’s a huge wealth gap between wealthy TechCorps employees, poor people just trying to eke out a living, and raiders who will happily steal and kill for their next meal.
Into this comes Captain Knox, head of the Silver Devils squad that used to work for TechCorps–until they revolted after growing sick of being used to hurt people. They’ve been hired to kidnap Nina unharmed, and unfortunately they don’t have much choice. If they don’t do it, their biohacker contact Luna will be killed, and they need her to maintain their implants so the implants don’t degrade and kill them. To this end, Knox dangles a rare jewel in front of Nina–a rumored cache of information from the Library of Congress.
Knox and Nina have an intriguing chemistry between them, which they’re both trying to avoid. Nina doesn’t trust Knox and his people, and Knox knows it’ll get a lot harder to turn Nina in if he grows to like her too much. All of the characters are enjoyable and interesting. Nina is relentlessly optimistic, which confuses the hell out of Knox, especially once he finds out how she grew up. Knox’s squad has the charming, outgoing Rafe, sweet tech guy Conall, and stoic sniper Gray. Dani is somewhat psychotic and is incapable of feeling physical pain. Maya regrets being the only one of the group to not have unusual combat skills, but Nina and Dani do their best to train her to defend herself. Multiple characters are bisexual, which I appreciate.
There’s plenty of action to be had out on the road–raiders, a town that needs help, an old enemy of Knox’s, cage fights at a bar (another thing “Beyond” fans will recognize), explicit sex, cinematic fight sequences, and more. I absolutely love this story, and can’t wait to read the next book in the series!