Best known for their Beyond series, the writing team of Bree Bridges and Donna Herren known as Kit Rocha, do what they do best in their new series Mercenary Librarians: create an engaging cast of three-dimensional characters that form a tight-knit, found family within a richly developed and diverse world. Their plots are fast-paced, action-packed, and rife with steamy Romance that is artfully balanced with non-romantic plots. All opinions are my own.
RELEASE DATE: 28/07/2020
STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶
SUMMARY: Nina is an information broker with a mission–she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America. Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he’s fighting to survive. They’re on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process… Or they could do the impossible: team up.
RELEASE DATE: 31/08/2021
STAR RATING: 5/5 ✶
SUMMARY: Maya has had a price on her head from the day she escaped the TechCorps. Genetically engineered for genius and trained for revolution, there’s only one thing she can’t do—forget. Gray has finally broken free of the Protectorate, but he can’t escape the time bomb in his head. His body is rejecting his modifications, and his months are numbered. When Maya’s team uncovers an operation trading in genetically enhanced children, she’ll do anything to stop them. Even risk falling back into the hands of the TechCorps. And Gray has found a purpose for his final days: keeping Maya safe.
In Deal with the Devil, we are transported to a new part of the post-apocalyptic, dystopian North America introduced in the Beyond series. Instead of the outskirts of Eden, Mercenary Librarians takes place in Atlanta in 2086, which has experienced a completely different evolution since the Flares. Here, humanity is controlled by TechCorps. The massive corporation has a monopoly on everything from food to basic tech. Genetic engineering and cloning is rampant and used to enforce their control through super-human soldiers, tech geniuses, and walking memory banks. The first book is foundational, establishing the world and the core cast of characters that make up the found family, and planting the seeds for multi-book plot arcs.
What I especially appreciated about this inaugural book is its premise and how that premise ties into such a uniquely balanced main character. Yes, our FMC Nina is a genetically constructed super-human soldier. But her real power comes from the community she has helped build and care for in her little corner of Atlanta. She retrieves books and media that have been abandoned or hidden, since much of the content has actually been destroyed, copying and distributing it to the masses. She doesn’t stop with books, though. Food, clothing, help fixing basic tech – Nina, Dani, and Maya are serving their community in defiance of TechCorps. Nina is inarguably “strong,” but she’s also one of the most loving and tender FMC’s I’ve read, bringing a depth and authenticity to the plot that’s quite powerful.
The series really amps up the pacing and energy with the second installment, The Devil You Know. Our two found families, now united as a single unit, are expanding their goodwill in service to their community when conflict strikes again on multiple fronts. Gray’s implant is failing, and there is nothing anyone can do about it; without the help of a TechCorps medic, Gray will die. A the same time, the team finds out that rogue genetic facilities are cloning and trafficking children, and a ghost from their past suddenly arrives clearly on a mission to end them all. Maya’s character arc is powerfully transformative. Over the course of the book, she evolves from someone fearful of her gifts to someone who understands and embraces her true self, and this transformation is truly inspiring. There are a lot of plot strands to contend with, making this book an incredible page-turner.
It’s obvious that The Devil You Know is really the launching point for this series. Nina and Knox have established their family and leadership, and there’s a fantastic quote that sums it up: “Just a proud mom and dad overseeing their misfit band of rogue supersoldiers, fugitive criminals, evil clones, and one random superkid.” The end of the second book presents the climax against the big bad that’s been developing since the beginning of the first, and a coming-together of various factions to support them in the hopes of taking on TechCorps and protecting the people of Atlanta. How these threads all converge makes for an extremely satisfying ending, and you can see how carefully the authors wove the plot strands together to create the launching point for the series.
Fans of the Beyond series will recognize Kit Rocha’s special brand of characterization. Their ensemble casts are diverse and unique drawing from myriad backgrounds, races, gender identities, sexual preferences, professions, and styles in a way that is never contrived or artificial, but flawlessly natural. No flat, one-dimensional characters here! Each member of this found family has a deeply constructed history and personality that has been masterfully developed to create unique individuals. One of the things I appreciate most about their writing is their use of POV in support of the ensemble cast; the majority of each book consists of the two POVs of the romantic couple, but then is augmented by special chapters sprinkled throughout each book that are the POV of one of the ensemble cast members. This technique broadens the experience of each book and creates a solid foundation for future installments in the series.
Fans of Kit Rocha will not be disappointed – Mercenary Librarians brings their unique brand of pulse-pounding, steamy SciFi-Romance to an entirely new set of readers via traditional publication. You do not want to miss out on the opportunity to get get in on this gripping series right from the beginning!