Citadel
Grade : B+

Ever since I read Kit Rocha’s dystopian post-apocalyptic Beyond series, I’ve had an interest in romance books that are similar (no zombies required though). Claire Kent (a.k.a Noelle Adams) started a new series, Kindled, in the same vein in 2021 and Citadel is book five. It’s the first of a duology about two sisters featuring some new characters that reads independently of the previous four novels. But the world is the same and the intense survival nature remains ever-present.

It's a few years after impact, when a meteor destroyed western Europe and the world fell apart. Most of humanity is dead but there are a few pockets of survivors, some in organized communities and others living alone, all scavenging goods, medicines, and anything usable from the ‘before’ times. Del and her older sister Breanna have temporarily found a haven on the coast in a flooded hotel, and Breanna protects Del by trading sex for their survival, currently sleeping with the leader of their group. But one night their relative peace is shattered by a roving band who finds their hideout. They are saved by a lone man, Cole, who had been travelling with the rogue group for his own purposes but wasn’t part of their violent attack.

Cole has his own mission – to find his brother. He’s been on his trail for years, and picking up Del and Breanna doesn’t deviate him from his intended path as the sisters’ goal is to find another place to live and he knows of somewhere they might like. Once he’s got them settled in a community that seems relatively stable, he heads off again to look for his brother. Del is sorry to see him go, but understands his compulsion, as she would do the same if it were Breanna that was missing. Del and Cole have some sparks of attraction between them, enough so that three months later, when Cole drops back in to see how they are faring, the two of them share a steamy night together. But in the morning he is gone, with no word of goodbye. Two years later, he shows up again, but this time, Del is not going to be so foolish as to fall back into bed with him. He’s proven that he isn’t interested in settling down. But when an unexpected emergency throws Del and Cole together in a shared mission, will they find a way to reconcile and figure out a more promising shared future?

Like any good series, the worldbuilding has expanded with each book, giving a more complete view of the setting and characters. In a post-apocalyptic world, survival is key and violence is often the most used way to gain power and control and for women, sex is often a commodity to be traded for safety. Del feels badly that Breanna sacrifices her bodily autonomy to keep her safe, but the other option would be for both of them to be used sexually and Breanna won’t let that happen. When Del shows an interest in Cole, Breanna cautions her to be careful, but knows from their experience with him that he is not sexually violent. And when Cole and Del have sex, there is clear consent. There’s an age difference between Cole (early thirties) and Del (twenty) but it’s less noticeable than it would be in a contemporary romance because everyone’s goal is day to day survival. I really enjoyed how this particular story played out and how Cole and Del eventually make things work for them. The world this author has created is intriguing and suspenseful, making for a page turning read with every book. I’m looking forward to Breanna’s story next as she definitely needs her own happy ending after all she’s been through.

Reviewed by Maria Rose
Grade : B+

Sensuality: Hot

Review Date : January 19, 2024

Publication Date: 06/2023

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Maria Rose

I'm a biochemist and a married mother of two. Reading has been my hobby since grade school, and I've been a fan of the romance genre since I was a teenager. Sharing my love of good books by writing reviews is a recent passion of mine, but one which is richly rewarding.
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