Ashwin (Gideon’s Riders #1) by Kit Rocha #VideoReview #BookReview #EarlyReview
*** This review is SPOILER-FREE! Read on with confidence! ***
A quiet knock sounded on his door, and he answered without looking up. “Come in.”
Kora opened the door and peered inside. “Hi.”
Wanting exploded through him. He could still feel her skin beneath his fingertips, the racing beat of her pulse under his thumb. Even the pain of looking at her had grown sweeter somehow, a teasing, delicious sting. For a soldier meant to be free of emotion, he was drowning in impossible feeling.
Ashwin’s training and suppressed emotions—the way he looks at everything so analytically, the quick decisions and dependence on logic—reminded me of another soldier: Hunter from Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breed series. I watched John Wick, Chapter 2 just as I started reading Ashwin, and I imagine Ashwin’s skilled, economical movements in a fight might have looked a little like Keanu Reeves as he plowed through hundreds of trained assassins on screen.
“Everything in this house is deceptive. The things that seem humble and rustic are expressions of wealth, and the things that seem like frivolous luxuries are ruthlessly practical.”
“Welcome to Sector One.”
If you’re a fan of the Beyond series and worry about how appealing the religious culture of Sector One will be after spending the last three years with the hedonistic O’Kanes, don’t be. The world-building for this new Riders series is just as compelling—loyalty and dedication to a cause, the closeness and quirks of chosen family, the respect and reverence given to the sector leader by its people, the beautiful artisan hand-crafted goods. Kit Rocha’s comfortable, immersive style is still there, and it’s still a heady thing to experience.
“The marks we carry on our skin make us who we are,” Del said softly. She traced the bar codes, one at a time. “The ones given to us mark who we’ve been, and the ones we take for ourselves shape who we believe we can be.
Even more layers of the mystery of Eden are peeled back, exposing a stark truth that runs especially true in the social and political climate of early 2017: people spend a lot of time focusing on (and bickering about) things that ultimately don’t matter while determinedly avoiding ways to protect or invest in humanity’s future.
“Are you participating as well, Hunter?”
“I came up to hit the bag.”He smacked the back of his fist against the canvas with a dull thud. “But if you’re offering your jaw instead, I’m up for it.”
“No jumping the line.” Ana watched Ashwin, her brown eyes lit with familiar challenge. “I’m trusting you to be more practical than the rest of these fuckers. They still don’t like swinging at my jaw.”
From a historical standpoint, he understood the cultural prohibition against hitting women. It was an erroneous conclusion springing from good intentions—the idea that the powerful shouldn’t perpetuate violence against the weak. The flaw was insisting that physical power followed arbitrary gender lines inherently, instead of being the result of systemic lack of access to training, opportunity, and encouragement.
Ashwin’s story line has been building since midway through the Beyond series, but you don’t need to have read that series to start this one.
“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
“I don’t know.” He traced his knuckle over her cheek. “How do you know if something is beautiful? If you find satisfaction in looking at it?”
“Sometimes.” She shivered. “Your heart races, or it’s hard to breathe. Or you just have to stop for a minute and marvel at how perfect the universe is, to have created something like that.”
Another petal drifted toward her shoulder. Ashwin snared it and rubbed it between his fingers, and the heady scent filled the air. “Then I never saw beauty before I saw you.”
What’s Ashwin like in bed? Not as domineering as you might expect. He’s kind, caring, considerate. Intense, skilled, focused. I loved getting to know this new cast, especially the Riders. They’re as unified and disparate as Dallas’s O’Kanes, and every bit as addicting to read about.
This book is the perfect introduction to Sector One—and Gideon’s Riders in particular. Ashwin’s mission to infiltrate the Riders is the perfect opportunity to sweep the readers along on a journey of initiation, and rites of passage, and the first experiences unique to Sector One. Readers new and old will adore Ashwin and savor his dance with Kora and the Riders.
New to the story world and want to start at the VERY beginning? Start with Beyond Shame, Beyond #1*:
Check out my companion video review of Ashwin on YouTube here:
*Denotes GraveTells affiliate link