This is the third book in the American Yakuza series by Isabella. Luce Potter is running her grandfather’s empire and trying to move more into legal operations but life – as usual – gets in the way. Luce’s relationship with Brooke is complicated and there are power issues in many aspects of Luce’s life. If you haven't read the first two books, then this one stands alone but I'd suggest you read books one and two before picking this up as you'll only want to read them when you've finished this one. The story builds in intensity through the whole arc and there are several heart stopping moments. The book opens with a brutal scene and rushes along from there.
Luce is a complex, well drawn character with a life unlike anyone in lesfic. This is no cosy mystery or formulaic romance. This is a roller coaster ride of emotion, where sometimes you want to give Luce a hug and other times you want to slap her. There are people in her life who do both. Luce has to protect her empire and her people while trying to track down the traitor from previous story (no spoilers except on relationships in case you want to read the previous books). Isabella has developed a second tier of people covering all aspects of the plot who are developed perfectly to add to the narrative. There are no ‘fillers’ here and no wasted words. It is the type of book you pick up for a few minutes but then can't put down. A cliché, yes, but sometimes cliches are true!
The trick Isabella has pulled off well here is making Luce so sympathetic and likeable a character even when her behaviour is anything but likeable and she seems to have gone beyond the bounds of ‘decent’ society. This is partly because at all times Luce has a strong personal code of ethics.
There is a lot going on with several sub plots – one involving a sister appearing when Luce never knew one existed. Who is this woman and why does she suddenly appear with a strange tattoo? How can Luce be so brutal one minute yet kind and caring the next? Brooke is a three dimensional foil to Luce but there is enough conflict and uncertainty in the relationship to keep the reader off balance never mind the participants. Recommended if you like your plots gritty and your heroes a bit mean…