Read my review of the first book in The Renegades series, Rogue Launch.
This series is designed to stand alone, and the heroes of book 1 were brand new even for long-time readers of Dee’s work. In contrast, book 2 is still accessible for new readers, but I had the pleasure to already start firmly on Teams Finley and Quinn. I may be more familiar with other family members, but the glimpses of Crew Finley and Ryan Quinn in other books meant I knew I was in for a treat. However, reading the books within this series in order is a definite must, and Dee doesn’t hesitate to remind us of the devastating launch of this adventure, prompting a few tears on my end by the 4% mark.
But the heavy inciting incident doesn’t mean darkness envelops the entire story. This book features another heroic team-up, but the lack of baggage and drama between Crew and Ryan creates a very different vibe than from the first book. These characters are ultimately way too much alike, which means they are unintentionally hilarious together; additionally, their differences in age and experience make Ryan an excellent foil for Crew. So many of Dee’s heroes are so competent that Crew’s (relative) inexperience at the intricacies of this sort of mission allows for both character and plot development. The moments where Crew slips up are fully in line with his characterization, with the bonus of opening the story for Adrien to make his play and progress the plot.
Crew has no idea what he’s getting into with Adrien, in more ways than one. No matter which of them fills the roles of captor and captive, things get complicated in all the worst ways for the characters but the most exciting for the reader. Crew’s admission to Ryan earlier in the story highlights how Adrien is everything Crew attempts to deny he wants in a partner, which only makes the interest there hotter. The attraction between them is realistic, despite the inconvenient timing and trauma-bond circumstances, and I loved Crew’s subtle realization that Adrien might not necessarily be who Crew wants, but he could be who Crew needs. The forced proximity adds a speed-run element to the genuine connection that does develop, and though the finale to the midway point of this story is less literally explosive than it could have been, Crew’s ultimate internal struggle and decision kept me completely enthralled.
This journey has become a worldwide adventure, highlighting Dee’s ability to make every setting feel like she’s leading the reader on a personal tour of someplace she’s called home. And even though the central focus of this installment is on Crew, the short glimpses of other characters at the beginning of each chapter are excellent reminders that other elements remain in play. Joel and Elliott’s highlights are an especially poignant reminder of where we left them in Rogue Launch. Though this book also ends on a cliffhanger, for both the plot and the relationship arc between Crew and Adrien, I found myself grinning at the hopefulness of this one. Of course, this means the next book in this gripping series is sure to destroy me—and I can’t wait.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.