CBR14Bingo – Shadow: A large chunk of the book is the women dealing with the potential threat of a shadowy government agency… plus other things that hide in the shadows *dun dun dun*
I loved the first book in this sapphic slow-burn scifi series and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one! This is the second novella in the series and must be read in order, so if you haven’t read If I Were a Weapon yet, get on that! Given that, note that there’s spoilers for the first book in my review.
When we last left Deneve and Jolie, they’d narrowly escaped from an armed force that seemed intent on kidnapping Deneve. But even more terrifying, their nanites seemed to work together to get them out of the situation, somehow giving Jolie more control over her fire. The story picks up not long after that, with Jolie continuing to run her stationery shop while Deneve works odd jobs to replace the items she lost in the fire. But hanging over everything is the possible threat of NERA, the nebulous government agency tasked with dealing with the nanites. Jolie and Deneve have formed a tentative friendship, but will that be enough when the next problem comes calling?
“Jolie hadn’t signed up to be any kind of fighter, to take any responsibility for problems beyond her own life. All she wanted was to run her shop and be left alone. But Deneve hadn’t signed up for it either, and she apparently couldn’t leave until whatever her nanites thought was about to happen had happened.”
I’ve loved Deneve since the first book, and prickly Jolie has really grown on me. It’s no surprise that the two women have issues trusting each other. Deneve fears she’s still stuck in Austin. It’s the longest she’s ever stayed in one place since the event, and she fears that Austin is especially unsafe, given that at least one person knew of Jolie’s existence…. even though that person is now dead under mysterious circumstances. It’s not smart to stay in one place, or to get attached to anyone. Jolie isn’t sure how to act around Deneve, but she remembers things like her favorite pizza toppings. Jolie and Deneve are growing closer, though both of them refuse to talk about their feelings, or the kiss, or the nanites-cooperating-together thing. Basically, Jolie works the shop, Deneve picks up work, and then she comes home to cook before they settle down to watch a movie. But when problems arrive, there’s no question that they’ll work together to protect each other.
“Jolie had been doing everything in her power to keep away from everyone she feared hurting. Deneve should stay out of this. She really should. She couldn’t.”
And that’s about all I can say without revealing too much of the plot. There’s quite a bit of action, as Jolie and Deneve are drawn into investigating a nanite-related murder. The pacing is excellent and the action is mixed well with exploring the relationship between the women. We get more of Jolie’s backstory, as well as meeting some of her Austin nanite contacts. One of the things I liked about the series is both how similar and different their world is. The ships arriving caused massive issues for the economy and the world, and we get to see a little more comparing the precarious situations between the haves and have-nots, especially for those with nanites. While some questions from the first book are answered, they only lead to more questions, and it’s soon clear that the only people Jolie and Deneve can trust are each other. I was so caught up that I arrived at the end with a sense of shock – I had no idea that I’d even been close to the end!
Overall, I am exceedingly invested and can’t wait to see what happens next. The author’s said that this is a slow-burn to high heat (is this a Jolie pun?) romance, and I cannot wait.
I received an advance review copy of this book from the author. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.