by Diana Munoz Stewart
Series: Band of Sisters #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
This bad-ass band of sisters plays for keeps.
She's ready to start a war
Justice Parish takes down bad guys. Rescued from the streets by the world-renowned Parish family, she joined their covert sisterhood of vigilante assassins. Her next target: a sex-trafficking ring in the war-torn Middle East. She just needs to get close enough to take them down...
He just wants peace
Sandesh Ross left Special Forces to found a humanitarian group to aid war-torn countries. But saving the world isn't cheap. Enter Parish Industries and limitless funding, with one catch— their hot, prickly PR specialist', Justice Parish. Their chemistry is instant and off-the-charts. But when Justice is injured and her cover blown, Sandesh has to figure out if he can reconcile their missions. With danger dogging their every move, their white-hot passion can change the world— if it doesn't destroy them first.
Trigger warnings: death of children, torture, human trafficking, graphic violence, rape
A woman out for revenge – or Justice (haha, aren’t I hilarious?) – and an ex-soldier looking to save the world? Sign me up! While there were some hiccups, on the whole, this book definitely worked for me.
Justice is one of a group of sisters adopted by a rich, reclusive woman. The Parish family uses a school and various other businesses to mask that they’re actually a vigilante organization aimed at protecting women. Due to the experiences of many of these women, most of them – including Justice – have a pretty big chip on their shoulders in regards to men, even though one of Justice’s closest “sisters” is Tony, a Philadelphia-born man who was adopted into the family in his teens. To the outside world, Justice is the public relations specialist for the Parish businesses, but Justice’s current focus is on rescuing women and children from human trafficking – and this mission is personal. She’s finally within reach of the brothers at the head of a worldwide cartel, when suddenly all her years-long plans are thrown into disarray when they move their meeting to Jordan, a country the Sisterhood has no resources in. Not only does it set Justice scrambling to form a new plan, but it also raises questions about whether there’s a traitor within the organization.
“She was usually more successful at hiding her feelings, but a high-pressure situation—you know the kind where you Jack-be-nimbled your momma’s executive assistant, barged into a business meeting, and eye-appraised-seduced-and-fucked a total stranger, had her off her game.”
Enter Sandesh Ross, head of an international humanitarian organization staffed by discharged military personnel. Sandesh doesn’t view his work as a form of redemption as he doesn’t believe his actions during his military career were wrong, it’s just that he and other ex-soldiers have certain abilities – they’re well-organized and calm in emergency situations – that are perfect for responding to emergency humanitarian situations and helping the victims become self-sufficient again. Justice being Justice, one of the first things she does is question his wisdom in having a bunch of ex-military loose cannons in stressful situations (pot, meet kettle!). Between the rabid misogyny of the bad guys and the overwhelming misandry of the Parish family, Sandesh felt like pretty much the only character in the book with his head on straight.
“No. Men started the war. I’m just defending my sisters.”
“Men? Not me. I didn’t start this war. You dragged me into it.”
He had her there. “But you’re a good man; why not fight bad ones?”
His lips pressed together then relaxed. “Because I’ve tried that way. Tried it until I didn’t recognize myself. And that’s not my job anymore. There has to be more than that, Justice. That can’t be my only choice.”
So, as you can see, I had some initial issues with Justice (I prefer my prickly female vigilantes to have more equal opportunity trust issues) but she grew on me. The fact that she’s a PR consultant was pretty unbelievable, as she’s unfailingly snarky, blunt and short on patience. However, she’s also deeply loyal and has a strong moral core, even if she’s mostly motivated by her own anger and need for revenge. As she works with Sandesh more, she gains a new view of her work and her family, and her growth, though painful, was well done. The pacing was quick and snappy, though it bogged down a bit during some middle chapters where Justice was investigating the potential traitor in the family. The author also uses a lot of chapters to break up scenes – there are 77! in this book – and I found that choppy at times. The POV alternated between Justice, Sandesh, and one of the bad guys. I honestly didn’t care for the bad guy’s POV and wish it hadn’t been included. While the suspense plot was highly unbelievable in some places, I still enjoyed it very much.
My main issue was Justice’s immediate attraction and insta-lust for Sandesh, especially given her not-so-stellar views of men in the beginning of the book. I’m not a fan of insta-anything, though, and I thought the development of the relationship as the book continued was well done. I especially loved that she found Sandesh’s deep love for his mother sexy, and I thought it also emphasized just how important family was to her. Justice isn’t shy about her sexuality, and I also liked that part of the relationship, though for whatever reason the sex scenes themselves weren’t that steamy for me.
Overall, though, I think this is a successful first entry in a new series. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what happens with Justice’s sisters and how they will change the shape of the Parish organization. If you like kickass heroines and action-packed suspense, this book is for you!