I was drawn to this book because it centered on the DEA and local law enforcement banding together to take down a lawless motorcycle club and, in the midst of this joint effort, an unlikely friendship between undercover DEA agent Katrina Killian and Deputy Cade Evigan blossoms into a romance. Overall, I enjoyed the romantic aspect of the book but was disappointed in some respects by the level of action and suspense.
One of the most surprising parts of the book for me is the reversal in roles between the hero and heroine. In creating Cade’s character, Tenorio breaks from the traditional heroic stereotype of a take-charge dominant alpha male who becomes uber-protective over the heroine he is charged to protect. Cade suffers from PTSD and is only in town because he couldn’t say no to former marine teammate Rick’s request to help maintain law and order in a community under the stronghold of the Wheels of Pain MC. Cade is extremely quiet, private, distant, and brooding, all characteristics I would expect from a man who feels emotionally broken. What’s unusual is that he’s not the hero who comes charging in to save the day and who actively pursues the heroine.
Instead, Katrina is the one aggressively pursuing Cade. She isn’t shy nor does she worry about getting too close to the handsome Cade, who quietly exudes a power and control that draws her to him. In fact, she’s downright brazen about her interest in him. Her straightforward, sometimes jaw-dropping assertions startle Cade and initially caught me off guard as well. Although some readers may not like such a bold heroine, and I’m not sure I do either, I do believe her behavior is exactly what is needed to break down the emotional barriers Cade has erected to protect himself. No matter how hard Cade tries to push her away, Katrina refuses to be deterred. Slowly, she inches her way into Cade’s life and their love story progresses over a period of months. This span in time was integral in helping me believe their romance is genuine. Cade has been emotionally shut down for so long that it would be hard for me to accept a romance developing too quickly.
By narrating the story from both the Cade’s and Katrina’s POVs, the author makes the characters’ inner struggles just as prominent as the main external conflicts involving the MC club. Both characters have arcs that reflect their growth over the course of the story, but Cade’s arc is much more dramatic. Cade doesn’t know that Katrina is working undercover to bring down the MC run by a brutal, violent and unscrupulous leader, and he is conflicted about getting involved with someone who seemingly doesn’t mind living and working along with this gang of criminals. Similarly, although Katrina is genuinely interested in getting to know Cade, she feels guilty that she’s deceiving him and that, when he learns the truth, he may resent her and put both their lives in jeopardy. Yet, no matter how strong her feelings for Cade become, I admire her willingness to sacrifice her personal happiness to keep her cover and put a stop to the MC’s illegal activities. Katrina grew up in this MC, which is why she is so easily accepted by the club. Furthermore, she’s seen firsthand all the people who have been hurt and terrorized by this club that has no loyalty or sense of brotherhood. They are merely a band of felons and drug traffickers united by their greed.
One aspect of the book that I found especially striking is how effective Tenorio is in describing and picking apart Cade’s feelings about his own state of mind and his emerging feelings for the feisty Katrina. Although she awakens emotions in him that have long been dormant, Cade doesn’t think he has anything to offer. I feel the depth of Cade’s despair when he wishes “he had something more to offer her than the body of a ghost who didn’t know how to die.”
Another one of Cade’s reflections that I found to be especially poignant and powerful:
“From the start, she’d made him wish he could be different. That he was still the guy who wanted to change the world and save lives. The one who laughed easily and trusted the world to be black and white. That guy had died with so many others, thousands of miles from here, under a killing sun that never seemed to set, in sands that never satisfied its thirst for blood.”
Tenorio gives this couple a HEA that is realistic and consistent with their backstories and the events that occur in the book, and you can expect some steamy love scenes along the way.
When I read a romantic suspense, I like to see equal weight given to the romance and the suspenseful. In Convicted, the romance overshadows the major external battle between the law and the MC. The suspense was strongest at the beginning and in the scenes closest to the climax. While I was aware throughout the book that the major characters were in perilous situations, especially Katrina, I just didn’t experience the nail-biting adventures I like to read. One minor aspect that disrupted my read was the abrupt announcements that signaled progression in the story’s timeline. Transitions should move the story forward seamlessly, and, if done skillfully, when reading along, I will hardly notice the shifts. This wasn’t the case with this novel.
To sum up, I’m glad I read the book and especially enjoyed the romance between two people who appear to be on different sides of the law finding their way to each other.
Source: I received an ARC ebook from the publisher to provide an honest review.
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