Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bargains and Betrayals: A 13 to Life NovelTitle:  Bargains and Betrayals
Author:  Shannon Delaney
Series:  13 to Life
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date:  August 16, 2011
Links:  Amazon | Goodreads
Rating:  Photobucket

From Goodreads:

Locked away at Pecan Place, Jessie finds her situation to be even more dangerous than she feared. While she struggles to maintain her sanity and discover answers about the group that seems less and less like any legitimate government agency, Pietr fights to keep their relationship alive. But very aware that his mother’s time is running out, Pietr makes a deal he doesn’t dare tell Jessie about. Because the deal Pietr’s made could mean the death of far more than his tenuous relationship with the girl he loves.

Please note: minor spoilers for the previous novels may follow.

The 13 to Life series is so much fun and so different from any other werewolf story I’ve ever encountered. But it’s not just about the wolves. Shannon Delaney owns this story with the inclusion of the Russian Mafia, Cold War experiments gone wrong (or right?), and renegade “CIA” operatives. Not to mention the bittersweet love story.

This plot is just full of crazy. After the events of Secrets and Shadows, you’ve got Jessie locked away in a mental institution. The Rusakovas are trying to figure out how to rescue their mother from the CIA. And Jessie’s dad has started up a relationship with Jessie’s former enemy. Like I said, full of the crazy. But the story is so character-driven and so well-written that the crazy doesn’t seem so crazy. It just seems like another day in Junction for Jessie and the Rusakovas.

In this third installment, the author decided to split the POV between Jessie and Alexi. I thought this complemented the storyline, especially seeing Alexi’s reaction to how his family treats him now, knowing he’s not their true sibling. And very much like Max in the previous novel, Alexi provided the comic relief in Bargains and Betrayals, even if it was mostly sarcastic and self-deprecating. I don’t necessarily like him more now that I’ve seen things from his side, but I definitely have a newfound respect for him.

All of the characters have matured since the story began in 13 to Life, but if I had to pick one character who has matured the most, it would have to be Max. When he took a shining to Amy, he put aside his playboy ways and made a real effort to get to know her. Things aren’t always easy for them, but he doesn’t give up on her. And in this latest book, he really proves how much he cares. I can’t wait to see how that relationship develops, especially in light of the events at the end of the novel.

Much craziness ensued throughout this novel, and there may have been as many as five overlapping minor plots when all was said and done, but the author expertly tied them all together in one nice, explosive package. I can’t seem to find how many books are expected in this series, but I, for one, hope the author never runs out of ideas for it. Next up is Destiny and Deception, due out at the end of January. (She cranks these things out quick, doesn’t she?!?)

***Oh, one more thing, and this is just a personal observation. I remember reading a review for 13 to Life, back when I first started the series, where the reviewer remarked that the author didn’t do her research because Rusakova is a female surname in Russian. I don’t want to berate that reviewer because everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I thought it was interesting that the author finally explained in Bargains and Betrayals why they all share the Rusakova surname. I always try to give the author the benefit of the doubt because they're really the only ones who know where their story is going and where it's been.


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