You will need to read the first two books in this series, The Informationist and The Innocent in order to truly grasp who Vanessa Michael Monroe is, what she has survived and what she is capable of. They are also fantastic reads so that helps as well.
Taylor Stevens is back in the next installment of her Vanessa Michael Monroe series and Michael is going to ask the age old question of how far would you go for the ones that you love?
Typically when Michael finishes a job she makes sure that all of her enemies are unable to come back to hurt her permanently. However, it seems like someone from Michael's past has surfaced and knows how to pull all of the right strings to get her to perform how they would like. Michael is kidnapped by a man only known as the Doll Maker and thrust into the underground world of human trafficking but Michael is not the ideal type to be purchased, no she is tasked with the delivery of a very important and specific package that could be recognized by many around the world. As Michael struggles to allow someone else control her and looking for a way out, back home Bradford and the team are desperately looking for Michael and her best friend Logan. Michael has entered a deadly game and while she is not afraid to die, she hates to see those she loves and innocents suffer and when those two come into conflict she is going to have to choose one or the other and not everyone is going to make it out alive.
Stevens' books never seem to tackle the same topic twice (which is fantastic and keeps the reader wanting more), in this book Stevens’ set the stage for human trafficking and the fact that no one is really safe from it which is scary as hell. I liked that Stevens approached human trafficking from a different perspective in the use of the Doll Maker who has the ability to fulfill custom orders for his clients. Meaning his clients tell him what and sometimes who they want and he fulfills the order every time and the order that he wants Michael to help him fulfill is one of his most prestigious yet. As this takes place back and forth between Europe and the USA you are always worried about things getting muddled along the way; Stevens does an amazing job of laying out the plot and intersecting what is happening between the USA and Europe that I never felt lost in who was doing in what was going on. I think this was helped by having two main points of view which is different from her previous two books which had mainly POV from Michael.
Bradford saw a big jump in chapter time from his POV in this book and this mainly has to do with Michael not being able to be in two places at once but it shows the amount the Michael has learned to trust more and let him more in her life. Michael also realizes that she cannot do it herself and the amount of trust she places in Bradford is amazing compared to the Michael that we met in The Informationist (I love character growth). This did cause the book has some slower points when it comes to the action surrounding Michael as she is handicapped by the fact that the Doll Maker is holding hostage some of the people she loves and she knows any misstep will cause them to die. We do not really get to see the brutality that is associated with Michael at all in this book, not saying this is a bad thing just a change from the previous two, but as I said above, character growth. This also means that the fight scenes of the book occur with Bradford at the helm. While Bradford may not have the finesse that Michael has he is still pretty badass.
Michael's main talent that is highlighted in this book is her ability to assess every scenario and how she can use it to her advantage and how she has the ability to somewhat predict what her adversaries are going to do. Michael is unable to release the darkness that is inside her as there is more lives at play than just her own and while she is willing to let herself die there are those that she will not. It was also interesting seeing Michael's interaction with Neeva who is more of a hindrance than anything else but I found that Michaels was somewhat soft on her. But you have to give it to Neeva for being stubborn as hell and wanting her piece
I'm always happy when a book can surprise me and this book did not end as I thought it would be but that should be expected in Stevens' novels, no cookie cutter endings here. I'm always satisfied after reading a book in this series and it always leaves me wanting more so I am looking forward to picking up the next book in this series. Keep them coming Stevens as I know I will be there to read them.