Sinner’s Revenge is the second book in Kim Jones’s Sinner’s Creed series about a motorcycle club named… you guessed it, Sinner’s Creed. While I don’t think it’s necessary to read Sinner’s Creed to enjoy Sinner’s Revenge, I did wonder if better insight into Dirk and Shady’s relationship would have allowed me to appreciate Shady’s actions and motivations more. Because the events in book one highly influence the events in this novel, this review contains spoilers for Sinner’s Creed.
Shady and Dirk are both members of the Sinner’s Creed motorcycle club and brothers in arms if not in blood. Sinner’s Creed was Dirk’s story. And at the end of it, he was killed by members of Death Mob, a rival motorcycle club. As Sinner’s Revenge opens, Shady is consumed with vengeance and has moved to Hillsborough, New Hampshire to be near Death Mob headquarters. Masquerading as a website designer named Zeke Robinson, Shady spends his nights canvassing the city and assassinating Death Mob members. When he’s not killing, Shady hangs out at a local watering hole called Charlie’s Pub. There, he quickly catches the eye of Diem, a fiery woman with a penchant for designer shoes and bad boys.
Their first encounter is a memorable one. Diem is sitting at the bar when Shady walks in. She is immediately drawn to him. It’s not just his looks that get her attention but the fact that –
Even though he dressed the part he seemed to be out of place. It was as if he was fighting to fit in, but really didn’t belong. Unbeknownst to him, I felt the same way.
When two shmucks start hitting on her, Diem is all set to give them a blistering set-down but Shady steps in. Two punches, and the gentlemen are no longer a problem. Diem and Shady have some back and forth biting banter when Diem issues a challenge: if Shady can explain why she drinks Seven and Sevens she’ll give him something so hot and sweet he’ll be thinking about it for days. He gives the right response and she gives him a hot kiss with a little something extra – an atomic fireball. The snarky banter and surprise twist set the perfect tone for this relationship.
I found their romance very believable. Both come from backgrounds in which the threat of violence is ever-present and to show weakness is to invite dire consequences. Both have an unwillingness to relinquish control, which leads to a tempestuous relationship with lots of squabbling, one-upmanship, and hot sex. Neither would have been comfortable in a saccharin sweet relationship, so even though I did get a little tired of all the games Diem and Shady play, by the time the two finally got over themselves and declared their feelings for each other, it felt right.
However, while I could see their relationship working, I can’t say I really cared for them as individuals. They are very well done in the sense that they are both products of their upbringing and their characterizations feel totally authentic. But readers looking for a more traditional type of hero and heroine may want to look elsewhere. For starters, Shady is a difficult hero to like. He’s quick to anger, prone to violence, and cares for no laws except those set by Sinner’s Creed. At one point, he mentions that he has won his self-declared war against Death Mob because over sixty of their members have been killed. I found this lack of regard for human life disturbing. Perhaps if I had read the previous book, I would have had a better understanding of what drives him. But I found it hard to care about Shady’s vendetta. I understood he was hurting but don’t the people he killed have loved ones who would mourn for them too?
Diem is a self-centered diva and represents my least favorite character trope – the feisty heroine who often does annoying things just for the sake of being contrary. Then, about two thirds of the way through the book, there is a twist that took me complete by surprise. On the one hand, it fills in some gaps about Diem’s background. On the other, the twist takes the story in a whole new direction and feels a bit manufactured. Up until that point, the story’s focus has mostly been on the development of the relationship. After the reveal, the narrative suddenly goes into overdrive and becomes all about Shady and Diem fighting for their survival. It sets up a very suspenseful couple of chapters as the readers are left wondering if the pair will be able to find their happily-ever-after.
Ultimately, whether or not you will enjoy Sinner’s Revenge depends on your ability to immerse yourself in the fascinating if violent world the author has created. It is definitely not a book for everyone. But if you are looking for a book with realistically drawn characters and can overlook the bursts of violence that reveal the dark side of human nature, you may want to give it a try.