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Ashwin (Gideon's Riders, Book #1) by…
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Ashwin (Gideon's Riders, Book #1)

by Kit Rocha

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Ashwin is the first volume in a series of dystopian future romance novels, but a series which spins off from a previous one. The authors (Kit Rocha is a pen name for a writing duo) claim that you don't need to have read the first series in order to understand what happens in this one, and that's true inasmuch as the references to past events (oppression, revolution, your usual Hunger Games-lit shenanigans) could be understood relatively easily in context.

However, what makes a romance novel isn't whether you understand the backstory about the war between the Sectors and the Base or what have you, but whether you buy the relationship between the two leads—and I didn't. Everything that brings Ashwin (a genetically-modified, emotionally awkward super soldier) and Kora (a gifted healer) together happens before this novel starts; the obstacles keeping them apart in this book are overcome quickly and easily. There's no tension, the characterisation (particularly of Kora) is bland, there's a weird strain of gender essentialism underpinning the sex scenes... Props to the writers for creating a diverse cast of characters (Ashwin is of South Asian descent; there are lots of Black and Latinx characters; there are background same-sex and polyamorous relationships), but there was nothing here to make me want to pick up the next book. ( )
  siriaeve | Nov 6, 2017 |
I didn't realize that this was a spin-off series at first. I have read the first two books in the Beyond series, so I was a little familiar with the world this was set in. I gotta say that liked this book much better than the ones from the other series. I had quit reading that series cause I just didn't like most of the people. But this book was set with an interesting group of people that I think I'll enjoy reading about more and watching them rebuild the sectors. Ashwin was an incredible character. I love reading about genetically engineered soldiers. Watching him become more emotional because of Kora was nice. I liked them together.

Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. ( )
  amdrane2 | Mar 12, 2017 |
5 "Opposite Ends of the Feeling Spectrum Unite" Stars!

A new top favorite! I have been meaning to read or listen to Kit Rocha's Beyond Series forever. Of course, as is frequently the case with long-running PNR/UF series that must be read in sequential order, starting such a series can be a daunting exercise. So when I saw that Kit Rocha (the pen name for the collaboration between co-authors Donna Herren and Bree Bridges) was releasing the first book in a spin-off series, I jumped at the chance to review it, and I must say I'm in love!

Everything from the UF world building, hero/heroine character development, relationship building among secondary characters who will no doubt be the heroes/heroines in books to come, to the romance and passion department was top-notch! Moreover, Kit Rocha towed the line between the perfect balance of explaining this UF world, which takes place in the same one that her Beyond Series takes place (just later in time after the war between the sectors has ended), while at the same time not belaboring or slowing down this story.

The heroine of this story is Dr. Kora Bellamy. The royal Rios family of Sector 1, including its leader Gideon Rios, took Kora in after she escaped a military facility for the Makhai Project, which features genetically engineered soldiers who have been bred to be the super soldiers that are incapable of feeling. Everything in Sector 1 is so completely different from where she came from both at the base and Eden where she once lived. There is an innate almost religious goodness in this Sector, where people believe in Gideon, not because he rules by might, but because of his beliefs, goals and most all his actual treatment of Sector 1's people (actions speak louder than words!).

Sector 1 is policed by Gideon's Riders--a number of whom are influential in their own right but who choose to enforce Sector 1s rules for the better of the whole (even if it means they must kill and therefore are giving up their eternal ever after for the collective good of Sector 1s people). Because of their sacrifice all of Gideon's Riders are revered by Sector 1s' inhabitants, and Kora's role in the affair is ensuring Gideon's Riders always get the best medical care so they can continue to protect Sector 1. This comes naturally to Kora as she innately has a drive to heal others.

After years of disappointment at the military base's inhumane and unnecessarily cruel treatment of its soldiers, Kora is finally happy in her new life with the Rios family which has not only given her a place to stay, but has actually officially taken her in as if she were one of their own. Kora's only regret is Ashwin, a soldier of the Makhai Project who she thought she had had a special connection with--something which they were strictly forbidden from having (as a matter of professional curtesy on her part and because Ashwin as a Makhai soldier should never have felt anything much less had feelings for her). However, Kora assumes that Ashwin died in the war as he never came back for her as he had promised.

So imagine Kora's surprise when Ashwin shows up in Sector 1 and just in the nick of time to save them from a dangerous plot. Gideon questions Ashwin's real mission in Sector 1 notwithstanding Ashwin's help--nothing gets by Gideon though he doesn't necessarily react as others would. Instead he also quickly assesses Kora's seeming power over Ashwin and allows him to stay for at least a while. Just why is Ashwin in Sector 1? Does he still have feelings for Kora? Is he even capable of true feelings? And how will Kora respond to this second chance?

What a powerful book that proves that true love can never be denied. Additionally, there are so many twists and turns that you will be glued to your Kindle until the very end. There are also some fantastic secondary characters--namely the other Gideon's Riders--as well as a number of the women in Rio's family who also have compelling stories that I can't wait to hear. I will definitely be looking to carry on with this series (as well as finally read or listen to the Beyond Series)!

Source: Review copy provided for review purposes. ( )
  B.J.O. | Mar 5, 2017 |
I have to admit it took me a while to get into this book, I just flew through the Beyond series, I loved it, but I was a good third ways threw this one before I realized I was hooked. Ashwin is a genetically enhanced soldier, made to feel no emotions, be ruthless and deadly. He's been sent on to Sector One to complete a mission, and he meets up again with Dr Kora Bellamy, the only woman who has ever been able to get close to him. Kora doesn't want to loose this him this time. Then life with Ashwin really heats up.

Ashwin is a more sedate story than the Bounty series so far, and we didn't see much of Gideon. But I liked how Ashwin reacted and grew the longer he spent time in Sector One. All in all this was a good start to the series and I'm looking forward more.
I highly recommend this book! ( )
  JulieD2 | Feb 27, 2017 |
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