Review written by – Mary Grzesik, USA TODAY
Sweet Revenge is Christy Reece’s latest Last Chance Rescue novel, and it starts off with a heart-racing, daring rescue. Dylan Savage, a Last Chance Rescue operative, is sneaking into a house to rescue kidnapped schoolteacher Jamie Kendrick. This first scene is very telling about these two characters.
When Dylan reaches the room where Jamie is held, she jumps on his back. Not wanting to hurt her, he drops to the floor. She says in a raspy voice,
“Touch me and I’ll kill you.”
Dylan feels admiration and compassion at the same time. He’s relieved that she’s “tough.” Dylan reassures Jamie that he is there to rescue her, but she doesn’t believe him. She’s naked and chained by one wrist. Jamie covers herself with a sheet while Dylan picks the lock on the handcuffs then gives her his shirt. She is weak and barefoot but determined to walk out on her own. For expediency he picks her up tenderly and rushes her out of there.
Jamie’s and Dylan’s personalities contradict their appearances: Dylan is alpha strong with a tender middle, and Jamie is petite with an iron will. This theme weaves throughout the book and makes their interactions riveting.
Stanford Reddington is a wealthy, “respectable” businessman. He has many diverse business interests, but his human-trafficking division is hidden under layers of secrecy. He lives in a secret location with his wife and daughters. What makes this villain particularly creepy is how normal he is with his family. He loves his wife and treats her with great respect. He dotes on his daughters and toddler son, and they have everything they need, except a view of the outside world. It’s another contrast: He considers the girls he kidnaps for his business “merchandise.” He’s angry when Jamie escapes. The law put a microscope on him, but he came out OK by saying he was taking care of Jamie in her abused condition. His older son, Lance, who was involved in the human trafficking, has been sent away to keep him out of trouble.
Jamie’s sole purpose now is to stop Reddington from hurting anyone else, not just revenge. She wants to be trained by LCR so she can go after Reddington herself. The LCR team, including her sister/LCR operative McKenna, wants Jamie to return to her old life while they take care of Reddington. She deals her way in by dangling insider info she heard as a prisoner in Reddington’s home. She won’t divulge the info until she’s trained. She spends a few grueling months at a cabin, training under Dylan’s tutelage. Jamie’s been in love with Dylan since her rescue. Dylan tries to keep her at arm’s length but fails miserably. Their chemistry is too strong. When Jamie’s training is almost complete, Dylan pushes her to divulge the insider info. To break their bond, he lies and claims that’s all he ever wanted from her and she’s furious and hurt at the same time. She leaves him there.
Jamie promises her sister McKenna that she is taking a teaching job in the U.S. In reality, and in disguise, she’s taken a teaching job with the Reddington family. Dylan, also undercover, has worked his way into Reddington’s inner circle and is invited to his private island. Dylan’s and Jamie’s paths converge again, although Jamie recognizes Dylan well before he recognizes her, from her laugh. They find what they came for with some unexpected help. Their late-night escape from the island is knuckle-biting. The HEA is very satisfying, even if Jamie thinks it’ll never happen.
Christy does it again with another terrific couple. I loved this book for its message of hope and redemption. Jamie is one of the toughest heroines I’ve ever read. She bounces back from a horrific experience and balances great determination with a loving heart and a love of teaching children. Dylan is my favorite type of hero: tough, strong alpha but gentle with Jamie. He overcame a horrible childhood, obtaining a psychology degree so he can help others. He respects Jamie’s strength and determination and treasures her at the same time, an irresistible combination.
I’m looking forward to the last of the trilogy, Sweet Reward.