Monday, December 14, 2015

Mini-Reviews // In The Company of Killers

"Despite my growing fear, I still want to be right where I am.  Trapped in the merciless arms of a killer.”

Killing Sarai (In the Company of Killers #1) by J.A. Redmerski

Published by Author
Genres: Crime, Suspense, Romance, New Adult
Published: June 18, 2013
Pages: 396

My Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: Sarai was only fourteen when her mother uprooted her to live in Mexico with a notorious drug lord. Over time she forgot what it was like to live a normal life, but she never let go of her hope to escape the compound where she has been held for the past nine years.

Victor is a cold-blooded assassin who, like Sarai, has known only death and violence since he was a young boy. When Victor arrives at the compound to collect details and payment for a hit, Sarai sees him as her only opportunity for escape. But things don’t go as planned and instead of finding transport back to Tucson, she finds herself free from one dangerous man and caught in the clutches of another.

While on the run, Victor strays from his primal nature as he succumbs to his conscience and resolves to help Sarai. As they grow closer, he finds himself willing to risk everything to keep her alive; even his relationship with his devoted brother and liaison, Niklas, who now like everyone else wants Sarai dead.

As Victor and Sarai slowly build a trust, the differences between them seem to lessen, and an unlikely attraction intensifies. But Victor’s brutal skills and experience may not be enough in the end to save her, as the power she unknowingly holds over him may ultimately be what gets her killed.

This is their story…
I haven't seen many people talk about Killing Sarai, but those who have read it rave about it.  And, for good reason -- the first installment of J.A. Redmerski's In the Company of Killers series is drenched in action, tense romance, and thrilling suspense.  Generally, I'm not big into crime novels (although, for some reason, I was really into Harlan Coben when I was younger?).  But, Killing Sarai hooks you from the beginning and never lets you go.  

I really liked Sarai's character and her journey.  Having spent years in captivity by a Mexican drug lord, she has maintained the hope and perseverance that other girls in her position have lost.  She is strong-minded and brave.  However, I will admit that her blatant inability to follow instructions was annoying at times.  I mean, when a deadly assassin tells you not to move (for your own safety), I would listen to him!  But, not Sarai.  She is constantly walking into dangerous situations, making them a gazillion times more difficult than they already are.  But, readers learn that this defiance is just a part of who Sarai is.  We've all got flaws, right?

And, about that deadly assassin...  Victor Faust won my heart the instant he stepped onto the page.  This beautiful man with a void of the heart has all the qualities that I love in a book boyfriend:  he's an anti-hero, morally ambiguous, tormented, and a bad boy.  And, of course it doesn't hurt that I see him as Tom Hardy in my mind.  (Ahem.  I present to you Exhibit A.  You're welcome.)  

Victor and Sarai's slow burn romance is not for the faint of heart.  Their story is so beautiful and twisted it hurts.  He sees the darkness in her beauty and she sees the beauty in his darkness.  And, they

Read Killing Sarai!  I warn you that it can be brutal and raunchy, but it is more than worth it.  Prepare yourself for secrets and lies and love and bloodshed.  I give it all of the stars!

"...You never know who might betray you until it's too late.”

Reviving Izabel (In the Company of Killers #2) by J.A. Redmerski
Published by Author
Genres: Crime, Suspense, Romance, New Adult
Release Date: December 4, 2013
Pages: 373

My Rating: ★★★(4.5 Stars)

Synopsis: Determined to live a dark life in the company of the assassin who freed her from bondage, Sarai sets out on her own to settle a score with an evil sadist. Unskilled and untrained in the art of killing, the events that unfold leave her hanging precariously on the edge of death when nothing goes as planned.

Sarai’s reckless choices send her on a path she knows she can never turn back from and so she presents Victor with an ultimatum: help her become more like him and give her a fighting chance, or she’ll do it alone no matter the consequences. Knowing that Sarai cannot become what she wants to be overnight, Victor begins to train her and inevitably their complicated relationship heats up.

As Arthur Hamburg’s right-hand man, Willem Stephens, closes in on his crusade to destroy Sarai, she is left with the crushing realization that she may have bitten off more than she can chew. But Sarai, taking on the new and improved role of Izabel Seyfried, still has a set of deadly skills of her own that will prove to be all she needs to secure her place beside Victor.

But there is one test that Izabel must face that has the potential to destroy everything she is working so hard to achieve. One final test that will not only make her question her decision to want this dangerous life, but will make her question everything she has come to trust about Victor Faust.
As soon as I finished Killing Sarai I was on to the next one.  In Reviving Izabel, Victor and Sarai's relationship continues.  Redmerski feeds her readers more action and thrills, twists and turns, and a very surprising ending.  But, what I loved the most about this second installment was the character development.  Sarai and Victor are two very complex characters, and in this story things only become more complicated for them.  Sarai is a flower blooming in a dark room; we watch her struggle to find her place in the world.  She knows that after all that she's been through, she can never live a normal life.  But, she is finding life as a killer hard to accept.  And, Victor continues to battle his own demons, struggling to understand that little red thing that beats inside his chest.  Their individual stories are intriguing, but their love for one another evolves greatly in Reviving Izabel.  They are each other's salvation and destruction.  And, watching them try to figure out which one is more important -- the fact that they bring out the best in each other or the fact that they could get each other killed -- is captivating.

We also get development from a character we saw only a glimpse of in Killing Sarai: Fredrik!  I lurve Fredrik.  He's mysterious, and he's got a dark past and a sadistic appetite for torturing and killing people.  He's a very interesting character and I can't wait to read The Swan & the Jackal (In the Company of Killers #3), which is told from his point-of-view.  Book Three delves into his past and focuses on his ghosts coming to visit him in the present (it has nothing to do with A Christmas Carol, though).  And, did I mention that he's like...gorgeous?

You may note that I deducted half a star from this book's rating, giving it 4.5 stars.  Yeah, so there was this thing that bothered me about the book.  As I mentioned above in my review of Killing Sarai, Sarai can be annoying at times.  And, I felt like her immaturity was intensified in this book.  Again, I like her character, but she seemed to whine and complain a bit.  However, I feel that, in contrast to Victor, her naivety and rashness makes sense.  Not only is he a skilled assassin, but he is approximately twenty years older than her.  Technically, he's old enough to be her father and at times their relationship does feel very father-child like, especially considering the way he chides her.  I feel like the author uses that dynamic to remind us of their age difference, of his experience vs. her lack thereof.  But, I just didn't like it.  In the first book, they felt more like equals; her strength and determination matched his ease and confidence. But now it feels like, as Sarai put it, she's an "orphan dropped off on [his] doorstep".  Like he has to take care of her.  Ummm? She is more than capable of taking care of herself!  (I'm too tired to go on a feminist rant right now, and this "mini" review is already too long.  But, I have a lot of feelings!  Just know that.)  However, the end of the book solved this issue for me, wrapping things up rather nicely.  Not to be spoilery, but Sarai kind of stands up for herself and is like "Ok, no.  No Damsel in Distress here."  So, I only deducted half a star!

Reviving Izabel maintains all of the facets that I loved about Killing Sarai:  it's fast-paced and full of action and romance and suspense.  I can't wait to continue on with the series!

Have you read either of these books?  Hope to read them?  Tell me your thoughts!

Thanks and talk to you soon,


  1. And it progressively gets better! My favorite book is Seeds of Iniquity. Nora is hands-down, the most BAMF character ever. Probs my favorite female in the series.

    1. Ooooh, I can't wait to read about Nora! I'm so excited to continue with this series. And, I also read on J.A. Redmerski's Twitter the other day that the series has been optioned for TV which is also very exciting! Thanks for commenting.

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