Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Review: Sweet Revenge by Zoe Archer (ARC)

Jack Dalton spent five years in jail after he failed to avenge his sister. Now he has escaped Dunmoor Prison and he is more determined than ever to dispense justice on Lord Rockley, his former employer and the man who killed his sister. A tip leads him to an inn very near Dunmoor but, when he goes in, he doesn't find Rockley -- what he finds is a gun pointed at him -- and the person holding it is the most fascinating woman Jack has ever seen.

Eva works for Nemesis Unlimited, a group known to handle delicate situations and solve problems for those who need them. Nemesis Unlimited has been hired to deal with Lord Rockley and, based on their research, their best bit is Jack Dalton.

Despite their extensive investigation and their very thick file on Dalton, the man himself defies all expectations: more feral than civilized, Eva and her companions are overwhelmed by the barely contained brutish force that lies within Dalton.

Dalton and Eva have different views on revenge (he wants him dead; she wants him to face justice in the courts of law) but both of them want Lord Rockley to pay his dues. With no resources of his own, Dalton goes along with the Nemesis's plan and finds himself paired up with Eva.

Beast meets Beauty. Jack Dalton is an interesting hero as he doesn't fit the mold of what we consider as one. He was imprisoned for 5 years and had lived a very colorful life before that. He knows he is a brute and is aware of his limitations and, perhaps this is where Zoe Archer's skill in characterization shines through: she took on the challenge of writing a most unlikely hero and made her readers believe in him.

Eva and the rest of Nemesis Unlimited are a sharp contrast to Jack. Their civility and manners highlight Jack's rough ways and this was a point of conflict in the story -- like a diamond polishing another diamond, each confrontation between Eva and Jack chip away at their exteriors, adding to each other's facets.

"...He won't let a piece of filth like me disrupt that."

She looked at him sharply. "Why would you say that?"

"Because to Rockley," he said, spreading his hands, "there's nothing more important than appearance."

"No, I mean, why would you call yourself a piece of filth? Do you really think of yourself that way?"

He blinked. "I don't think of myself in any way. I just am."

The idea seemed to flat out puzzle her. "You've got to have some conceptualization of yourself. Some idea of who you believe yourself to be."

He gave a quick bark of laughter. "Self-reflection -- I think that's the word for ti -- that's a luxury for them that don't have to worry about their next meal, or whether the rain will come through the holes in the roof. There's only survival. And if you don't fight to survive" -- he shrugged -- "you don't."
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The experience transforms Jack drastically but Eva isn't left unscathed: she has hidden herself, her wants, dreams and desires and dedicated herself to her work in Nemesis. Jack coaxed her out of her comfort zone.

The romance between Eva and Jack aren't the main focus of the story but I love how the author presents and proceeds to narrate a very interesting revenge plan. Archer orchestrates the scheme very well and takes her characters on a thrilling caper through London. She injects little bits of historical facts that further adds dimension to the story (read about the Contagious Diseases Acts in loc 1831).

Justice vs. Punishment -- there is a reflection on ethics in Sweet Revenge. Lord Rockley is a man who has: ruined the lives of young ladies, defrauded the government, killed for his own gains -- is there an honorable way to mete out justice for a man such as this? Nemesis Unlimited claims they are not murderers, but they aren't lawful either -- they exist in a limbo and they negotiate right and evil with every decision they make.

"Just picture it: the only family you got in the whole world, stretched out at your feet, dying too slow to be merciful but too fast to get a doctor. Picture that" -- he pointed at finger at her -- "and then tell me you'd be satisfied with ruination."
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This is the first book in Zoe Archer's new series, Nemesis Unlimited. She introduces the rest of the characters very nicely in this story and I'm curious to read about them. Readers who enjoy exciting escapades should really give this book a try. Sweet Revenge will be released this June 3, 2013.

To find out more about Zoe Archer and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook and on Goodreads.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author for review purposes. Many thanks to Zoe Archer and St. Martin's Press for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.


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