Read my reviews of previous books in The Renegades series:
The beginning of this book directly intersects with the action-packed finale of the previous novel. It means that all the various characters I’ve come to care about, main heroes and secondary, are in immediate danger right off the bat, but I’m also not sure my heart could have taken anything like waiting to get back into the heat of the moment. Since book 1 was entirely from Elliott’s perspective, I expected this book to be all from Joel’s point of view in balance, but I’m quite glad that Dee subverts my expectations there. Joel may be the primary for this book, but Dee chooses the best narrator for the scene, even when it results in some surprising new voices. This is far from a complaint since I’m way too emotionally invested in all of these characters, even the secondaries in this extended story who are heroes in their own right elsewhere.
And this is all only part one of the rescue mission! The ultimate goals for the heroes of the books Enemy Combatant and On the Double might be met, but Joel’s daughter is still missing. So, while the first portion of the book is certainly epic in its own right, it’s not the grand finale. Fortunately, Dee doesn’t let either her readers or heroes suffer for long as things move fairly quickly toward the ultimate showdown. The result is a story with excellent pacing and no decrease in tension, even in the much-needed quieter moments.
Those quiet moments are where the romance aspect of this story blooms. We didn’t leave Elliott and Joel at an emotional high point in Rogue Launch, and both men are hurting for more reasons than just worry for little Blake. The fact that they work together so well in a professional capacity is almost the tipping point and definitely reframes how Elliott sees Joel (even if I did enjoy Elliott’s delightfully bratty moment near the beginning while Joel deals with some temporary hearing loss). Conversations are finally had, and Dee slips in some fascinating revelations that only enhance the misunderstanding I had already predicted. The full explanation is heart-wrenching in the way Dee does emotions best, but the aftermath is perfect. The full arc between these men is an excellent reminder that hate is not necessarily the absence of love and that it is still full of emotional connection.
The ending brings everything from this series full circle in the best ways possible, starting with the entire team working together as one unit. We get more minor POV scenes that are both important to the story itself and serve as important follow-up to other series in Dee’s expansive connected world, which I hope leads new readers to those as well. Everything is as dramatic and action-packed as I could have hoped for, but Dee again flips tropes in a final way: Joel and Elliott don’t get to rescue Blake and immediately live happily ever after. This isn’t an ending, it’s a moment in their lives and the beginning of the life they’ll build together. So, there’s no big Hollywood confrontation with any of the myriad villains (big and small) in this series, but I’m okay with that. These heroes have different, and more realistic, priorities.
And if there’s no ending, it means these amazing characters are always free to show up in future stories.
Disclaimer: I received a digital review copy of this book from the author.