Remember Prison Break? I miss those weekly doses of Michael Wentworth and the gang setting out to right wrongs and take names. This series – which is all about what happens when you get stuck in a tough environment like prison – was inspired by that show and brought back many fond memories to this fan.
Chief Deputy Warden Peyton Adams had a criminal for a father. His choices were made because of a desperate situation and in an attempt to save his loved ones, and knowing that has given Peyton a unique perspective on prisoners. She doesn’t see them all as just perpetrators, she likes to look beneath their rough exteriors and look at motive, behavior, attitude. In short, she thinks of them as people and is determined to make her prison as good as is possible. To that end, she is as desperate as anyone to end the stranglehold the Hell’s Fury gang has on Pelican Bay Penitentiary. On the other hand, she finds the idea of dropping Simeon Bennett into the general population to try and infiltrate the gang ridiculous. Regardless of any qualifications he may have gotten in the private security world, there is no way he can be prepared for what awaits him in the general population of a level four prison.
Simeon Bennett is more than qualified to handle whatever Pelican Bay throws at him. He’s been down this road before – as Virgil Skinner, a man who served fourteen years for a crime he didn’t commit. He did a lot he’s not proud of in prison. In order to protect himself, his sister Laurel, and her kids from the consequences of those actions he needs to play nice with the police to get his family into witness protection. But he’s not sure the gang from his old prison will give him time to infiltrate this new gang and get out before it all goes to hell. And he certainly doesn’t need the lovely Peyton looking at him with eyes full of desire and compassion as she fights to keep him safe.
For those ever doubting that prison is enough of a punishment (or that we treat our prisoners so well the places are like resorts) this novel will set your mind at rest. The violent, dangerous world these men are forced to live in is plenty of punishment; I really liked this realistic aspect of the novel. The author did a good job of showing how violent things were without giving me nightmares (or at least not many) and also at introducing us to the types of men that live in this world. There are the deranged, sure, but there are also just survivors. There are those that never had a chance and those that just blew every chance they were given. Some are desperate and some just plain violent. All of them make for good reading.
I really liked Virgil. He was innocent going in but he’s no choir boy coming out. I appreciated that he had some rough edges but maintained a pretty pure heart. He is very loyal and loving towards his sister, and once Peyton becomes a part of his life he becomes the same towards her. I was intrigued by his intelligence. He employed keen insight along with his street smarts, and that helped the believability of the story as whole.
Peyton had a lot of compassion, some good survival instincts, and great training for the task that lay ahead of her. She was in many ways more of an enigma to me than Virgil but I think that was because of the role she played in the plot. Some of her behavior was pretty unprofessional, a bit was TSTL. I accepted it because moved the plot forward. She still managed to come across as intelligent and capable, which is a testament to the author’s writing skill.
The heat and emotion between the hero and heroine was strong enough for me to buy the star-crossed lovers romance. As a couple, they really shone and brought out the best in each other.
The story did have its flaws. I always struggle with heroines who have not just the hero loving them but half the men who meet them wanting to offer marriage. Some of the unprofessional behavior touched a nerve. But the author did a great job of making even the secondary characters have depth and show genuine human emotions and behaviors. She did a very good job of treading the line between reality in her violence – this is a very violent world in which they work – and gruesomeness. The plot was layered just right – each action had a believable reaction, which led to yet another set of action-reaction. I enjoyed the story even when I didn’t enjoy everything that was happening.
For those that like romantic suspense this will be a really good book to add to your collection.