Review: Ricochet by Keri Lake

The only sure way to destroy a man is to take what he cannot live without.
Three years ago, I had everything.
A beautiful wife.
A son.
A reason for living.
Until a ruthless task force, assembled under Mayor Michael Culling, with a brutal strategy to make the streets of Detroit ‘safe’, ripped away everything I loved in a deadly hunt called The Culling.
They tried to kill me, too. I wish they had. Now I'm cursed by the memories of that night, and the words I whispered to my dying wife.
A promise—to avenge the wrong and set it right.
I’m no longer Nick Ryder. I’m a masked vigilante. Faceless. Loveless. Fearless. A man with nothing left to lose—one who's seen the dark and violent truth behind the city’s flawless veneer.
Michael Culling doesn’t know who I am. Or what I want. All he knows is that I’ve kidnapped his beautiful wife.
An eye for an eye—isn’t that how the saying goes? And Aubree Culling is the perfect pawn to destroy him.
If she doesn’t destroy me first.

At this point I'm not even sure what I was looking for when I saw that Zee had marked this book To Read and told her that we needed to read it next. Maybe the blurb intrigued me, maybe I loved the idea of reading a novel set in Detroit, maybe I remembered how much I loved The Punisher movie and thought this would be like that in some ways. Whatever it was that made me pick up this book, I'm so glad I did.

I can't say that "dark romance" is a sub-genre that I'm often (or ever!) drawn to, but I've read a lot of contemporary this summer, which also isn't my usual, so I'm glad that I'm reading different things. After Ricochet I'm sure to be reading more dark romance. Brutal, difficult to read, graphic, and explicit this book also had a wonderful ray of hope that kept me turning pages into the wee hours of the morning, thinking about it all day at work, dying to finish my adult responsibilities so that I could get back to it.

Come with me through the jump and I'll tell you all about how this book wrecked me in the best possible way. Spoiler free, because the surprises need to be surprises.

I started this book with the understanding that it was shelved in the Romance category, but the first half or so of the book does not feel like it's going to live up to that label at all. I cannot say enough that it is violent, gritty, explicit, often horrifyingly hard to read. You know from the blurb that the story is about a man who kidnaps the wife of the man responsible for murdering his family, so it's no surprise that our two main characters don't see one another across a crowded room and feel an instant spark. No, this is something different altogether. But as we learn about what Nick and Aubree have been through, what their individual lives have been like, it's finally, finally such a beautiful thing when they realize that they have the power to heal each other.

In his bed, amid the darkness, the destruction, the ruin, he fixed me. His gentle hands delicately fastened together the pieces of me that’d become so broken and scattered with no hope for convergence. As I lay beside him, the soothing tap of rain against the window, I felt whole.

I was riveted by this book from the first page and devoured it in a day, staying up way too late, reading at work when I could, because I couldn't put it down. Keri Lake did a beautiful job peeling away the layers of the story so that you think you know what's going on, until she reveals something new that changes your perspective. That happened again and again, which is such a great way to build a story! There were twists and turns throughout the story, from the beginning when we learned that Aubree isn't the dutiful wife Nick assumes she is, all the way through the end where layers are peeled back showing us a clearer picture. I figured out one big twist but not others, so I'm interested to see if others pick up on them before they are revealed.
Every scar told a story, but it was the ones we didn’t want others to see that told a truth.
Don't worry; they will be!
I LOVED the two main characters, Nick and Aubree.  Both were complex, equal parts broken and strong, their pain and their fight to survive at any cost palpable. You know from the cover, and the fact that it's a romance, that the hero is going to be darkly sexy, but we learn that he is also intense and painfully broken, suffering deeply from the effects of having his family brutally ripped from him. Focused on revenge it seems that Nick has forsaken his ability to live and love, refusing to let others in, but we soon learn that he still feels deeply, striving every day to protect those he cares for. In the beginning it looks like Aubree is going to be another rich politician's wife, but her story, her life, is devastating and tragic and as we learn more and more what she endures every day I found myself rooting for her and admiring her courage and strength. I can't say enough how much I grew to love her. Suffice it to say, her fierceness and badassery were a brilliant surprise.

We fit the only way two fucked up people could possibly fit together. I saw darkness in her beauty, and she saw beauty in my darkness. Yin and yang. Black and white. Beauty and scars; fury and forgiveness. She should’ve been my nemesis, but in her, I found something I didn’t know I was looking for.

I love when a novel's setting becomes a character in itself, especially when it's a place I know and love, and Keri Lake did just that making Detroit come alive in all of her desperate, filthy splendor. It could almost be post-apocalyptic if you didn't know how corrupt and abandoned Detroit has become, but this story could absolutely take place today. From the abandoned mansion that Nick takes possession of, to the Old Ironworks building that is the scene of the final confrontation, to the various points around town like the Penobscot building and the old train station, readers will get a very real sense of the city.
I would’ve run with you. If things had been different. You’d have been the one woman to make me give it all up.
This is not going to be a book for everyone. If you don't enjoy reading about the darkest side of humanity, if you can't take reading about extreme violence, torture, rape, murder, coping mechanisms like self-harm, then this probably isn't for you. What makes this bearable for me is the redemption and love that heals our protagonists. And I have to mention that while there are a lot of rapes in this book, the hero never rapes the heroine. It's not that kind of book, and I'm thankful. I will never understand the kind of "romances" where the woman falls in love with her kidnapper/rapist. That's not what this is. Everything that happens between Nick and Aubree is 100% consensual, and doesn't happen until the two are on equal footing, so to speak, until they are partners rather than captive and jailer. 
“You’re amazing,” he murmured at my ear, before his teeth grazed my jawline. The smile in his eyes withered to something serious, pained. “You make me dream things I shouldn’t dream. Crave things I shouldn’t crave. My weakness.” His lips slanted over mine in a kiss that stole my breath. “You’ll destroy me, Aubree. And I won’t stop you."
I've seen this book described as a "dark romance," which I honestly didn't even know was a thing, but I understand that label completely now and loved every page of it. Ricochet is graphic, violent, brutal, at times hard to read, and for a while I didn't see how there was going to be a romance to it. But there is an amazing, beautiful love story in there, the meeting of two very, very broken people who find healing in one another. Sometimes the most riveting, beautiful love stories are tempered in battles and pain.

Wench Rating:


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