Reviving Izabel and The Swan and the Jackal by J.A Redmerski (5 Stars)
Blurb from Goodreads:
Determined to live a dark life in the company of the assassin who freed her from bondage, Sarai sets out on her own to settle a score with an evil sadist. Unskilled and untrained in the art of killing, the events that unfold leave her hanging precariously on the edge of death when nothing goes as planned.
Sarai’s reckless choices send her on a path she knows she can never turn back from and so she presents Victor with an ultimatum: help her become more like him and give her a fighting chance, or she’ll do it alone no matter the consequences. Knowing that Sarai cannot become what she wants to be overnight, Victor begins to train her and inevitably their complicated relationship heats up.
As Arthur Hamburg’s right-hand man, Willem Stephens, closes in on his crusade to destroy Sarai, she is left with the crushing realization that she may have bitten off more than she can chew. But Sarai, taking on the new and improved role of Izabel Seyfried, still has a set of deadly skills of her own that will prove to be all she needs to secure her place beside Victor.
But there is one test that Izabel must face that has the potential to destroy everything she is working so hard to achieve. One final test that will not only make her question her decision to want this dangerous life, but will make her question everything she has come to trust about Victor Faust.
Blurb from Goodreads:
Fredrik Gustavsson never considered the possibility of love, or that anyone could ever understand or accept his dark and bloody lifestyle—until he met Seraphina, a woman as vicious and blood-thirsty as Fredrik himself. They spent two short but unforgettable years together, full of lust and killing and the darkest kind of love that two people can share.
And then Seraphina was gone.
It’s been six years since Fredrik’s lover and sadistic partner in crime turned his world upside-down. Seraphina went into hiding and has eluded him ever since. Now, he’s getting closer to finding her, and an innocent woman named Cassia is the key to drawing Seraphina from the shadows. But Cassia—after sustaining injuries from a fire that Seraphina ignited—suffers from amnesia and can’t give Fredrik the information he desperately seeks. Having no other choice, Fredrik has been keeping Cassia locked in his basement as he not only tries to get her to recall her past—because she and Seraphina share it—but also to protect her from Seraphina, who clearly wants her dead.
But Cassia is a light in the darkness that Fredrik never believed existed. After a year subjected to her kindness and compassion, he finds himself struggling with his love for Seraphina, and his growing feelings for Cassia—because he knows that to love one, the other must die.
Will light win out over darkness, or will something more powerful than either further destroy an already tortured soul?
When I first read Reviving Izabel, I didn’t know how to sum up all of my opinions about how great this book was. It was only when I read The Swan and the Jackal did I finally pieced together some coherent reason as to why I really really really love these books.
Let’s start of with Reviving Izabel, for me what made the sequel better was the really big change in the main character. If you haven’t read the first book, this review will definitely be a spoiler. From the first book, we all knew that Sarai, had this alter ego named Izabel Seyfried. Unlike Sarai, who’s innocent, soft and harmless. You could see from a mile away, that Izabel is a dangerous, brutal and menacing. And you know what? That’s what I like a lot about her. I’m not a big fan of her when she’s “Sarai” but when she’s “Izabel” she has more character when she’s portraying that side of her life. I guess, from seeing her damaged, scared and abused, it was a nice change to see her finally learn to stand up for herself.
There was also a big development with Victor. He’s still pretty menacing and dangerous in their line of work, but I’m seeing him being more soft when it comes to Izabel. Its pretty sweet seeing him different around Izabel. He's still menacing tho, you could see from a mile away that there's something dangerous and predatory about him.
But I think I got to see more of Fredrik here, you'd think that reading this, I would have an immediate liking to Victor Faust, but it didn't happen. I was more enamored with Fredrik Gustavsson than any other guy in this series. In fact, he's one of the most unique guys in my whole book boyfriend lists. In this book, he's very charismatic, funny and easygoing. It was a complete contrast to his status as a "Specialist", lets just say that he intrugues me a lot *winks*
But then I read about his story, in The Swan and the Jackal I found out all about his history with Seraphina, and the plot twist just twisted my mind into different knots. And I fell even more with his character. He's soft and hard at the same time, he is in complete contrast with himself, and I can't help but feel more connected to him.
Even though Fredrik is... uhm... special, I found that part of him interesting and mysterous. He might be dangerous, a bit over confident and scary. But he's not cocky nor is he conceited. Some people might think that this book was not what they expected of Fredrik, but to me, I just saw another side of him, the more humane side of him.
Then there's Cassia. I have to admit that she has a bit of a Stockholm Syndrome problem, but I really can't blame her. Whereas Fredrik is mean and dark to others, he's soft and caring when he's with Cassia. I don't really connected much with Cassia, but I could understand since she doesn't really remember much about what happened to her, but her secret was very very shocking to me.
But the ending and the plot twist. Those were probably what surprised me most when reading it. Because I never even expected it to happen, by 70% of the story, I am already sniffing a big plot twist, but it only made sense in the end, why it happened, and why it ended up that way. I think miss J.A was smart about this one, and honestly I can't wait for more of her books.
WHY DO I RECOMMEND THIS?
Some people would shelve this as a "New Adult" book, but I don't think this is proper for it. I think its more proper to say that this book is a mystery/suspense/thriller/dark/adult book that even 15-18 age people would understand and love. I've been a reader of thrillers and suspense books, some of them seems so deep and sometimes I don't understand most of what I read. But these are on the book that made me want more of dark suspense books.
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