Book Review: Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.

Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha

Mogsy’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

Series: Book 1 of Mercenary Librarians

Publisher: Tor Books (July 28, 2020)

Length: 336 pages

Author Information: Website

Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha is a dystopian adventure with strong undercurrents of sexual tensions, featuring the clash of two mercenary squads forced to form an alliance amidst hidden agendas and secrets until an unexpected spark between their team leaders ultimately leads to a reckoning. It is the year 2086 and the country has become a crumbling wasteland following a catastrophic event called the Flares that wiped out the power grid. In the ruins of what’s left of Atlanta, Nina heads the Librarians, who are actually a group of information brokers. Her teammates, Maya and Dani, have become her new family ever since Nina lost her own clone sisters following a harrowing escape from the lab that created her. They now run their operation out of a secret underground bunker, using both their combat skills and access to data to help those in need.

Enter Captain Garrett Knox and the Silver Devils. The former soldier and his gang of fellow exiles from the Protectorate-owned TechCorps isn’t exactly the kind of people who typically show up looking for Nina’s services, but they need her help regardless. Knox along with his friends have gone rogue from the company that created and maintained the experimental implants used to grant them superhuman abilities, and now they are in desperate need of a biochem hacker to stabilize their tech and keep them alive. The problem is that the hacker, Luna, has been kidnapped. Knox approaches Nina with a offer he knows she can’t refuse: she’ll help the Silver Devils retrieve the information they need to get out of their predicament, and in exchange, she’ll receive access to the archives of the fabled lost Library of Congress servers. However, in reality, Knox is actually setting the bait for the perfect trap. He does need Nina’s help, but not for the reasons he’s led her to believe.

Confession: this was my first book by the authors, so it’s probably on me for not doing a little more research into the genres they write before jumping headfirst into this one while taking everything in the publisher’s description at face value. Kit Rocha is actually the pen name for a writing duo who also writes paranormal romance under the moniker of Moira Rogers. Romance is thus a huge component of Deal with the Devil as well, with some R-rated erotica thrown in for good measure. Not a big deal—that is, unless you were expecting a straight-up dystopian adventure and instead became bogged down with relationship drama, which was especially predominant in the book’s first half.

This, I think, is what I struggled with the most. In general, I am not against romance in my books, but I do like to be prepared for it. Again, while it’s not really this novel’s fault that I felt blindsided, I do wish there had been more indication of it in its blurb or cover to help readers decide if they want to read it rather than be surprised—be it positively or negatively—while partway through. My own personal experience was a bit mixed. I didn’t mind the romance, but did often find myself frustrated by the lack of movement in the actual story while Nina and Knox mostly stood around drooling like a couple of hungry dogs over each other’s hot curves, abs, and asses. I mean, I know I’m not the ideal audience for this kind of stuff, but if you’re going to force your characters to fall in love in less than two weeks, the least you can do is maybe not put so much focus on objectification and physical lust. When it comes to romance in stories, I make it no secret that I prefer slow-burn as opposed to whirlwind, so the almost cringe-worthy lack of emotional connection here admittedly made this one less than ideal.

But on to the actual story. Boy was I disappointed at first to discover the complete misnomer of the series title. Let’s just say the whole “librarian” aspect of it doesn’t play much of a role at all, but thankfully, the idea of a group of underground information brokers is almost as intriguing. I enjoyed the world-building. Although nothing is really explained in great detail, the authors have nevertheless created an immersive setting using familiar themes and descriptions that worked. Also, as I said before, the plot might have dragged at first, but that’s definitely not the case in the second half of the novel. Sure, the action we got was pretty routine, but considering how close I was to outright boredom at the beginning of the book, at this point even standard-fare thrills were more than welcome.

Bottom line, I might have enjoyed this novel more had I been properly prepared for how much romance was going to dominate the story, and I might even cheered if there had been more of an emotional connection between Nina and Knox. However, the writing mainly focused on sexual attraction and how much they both wanted to jump each other’s bones, and the result was a lack of chemistry and shallow (albeit fun) characters.

Still, overall Deal with the Devil was an entertaining, light fluffy book to while away a few hours. No doubt it will appeal to the authors’ target readers or fans of romance/erotica with a speculative fiction twist. If I ever feel up for another book like this, I might consider picking up more of their work or checking out the sequel, but I’ll definitely have to be in the right mood.

30 Comments on “Book Review: Deal with the Devil by Kit Rocha”

  1. I think it’s probably for the best I didn’t get this. I, as you say, was expecting a dystopian adventure with very little romance and no erotica. Maybe I’ll try it some time knowing what it is. Thanks for the heads up! And great review! 😁

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  2. Forewarned is my motto so good to read this and be made aware of the romantic elements. Not usually my thing but now I can choose to pick this up when that’s the mood I’m in.
    Lynn 😀

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  3. Hahaha. Well, you’re not the only reviewer to be fooled by “Kit Rocha”. Another guy I follow had the same thing happen to him. Both of you were much more gracious than I would have been.

    I must say, that kind of deception (even by omission) is the fastest way to lose fans. That the book contained erotica should have been noted in some way from the get-go. It wasn’t, because the publishers KNEW it would be a point against it. It just frustrates me when authors/publishers do a bait-n-switch like that….

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    • Yeah, I put it on the publishers, not the authors. I don’t think they want to lose fans, but when the publisher does not market the book well or make it clear in the description, it can indeed turn readers off and damage reputations.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I must have read the word “romance” in some marketing literature or review, because I knew going in it there would be a lot of it. So I guess it didn’t bother me that much 😁

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  5. I am a romance reader, but this book just sort of didn’t work for me; I stalled halfway through. I keep meaning to go back… but I’m not in a hurry!

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  6. I like how your review does a great job laying out the style of book and what to expect so folks can decide whether it’s the rigth book for them. As with many it sounds like a great read for some folks and a not so great read for others.

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  7. Oh wow, this is not what I would have expected! Thanks for the warning, I think I’ll steer clear! I’d be very cranky going in with an expectation of a dystopian action novel and getting R-rated romance instead 😉

    Great review, Mogsy, very informative and especially interesting as an explanation of how you approach your reads.

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  8. I’ve been curious about this one because I have read at least ONE of their Kit Rocha books before which was also dystopian (romance erotica though) and enjoyed it so I was interested to see how this one would read, especially to a SFF audience. I’ll probably still check this one out at some point. Thanks for your thoughts on it!

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  9. Pingback: Bookshelf Roundup 08/08/20: Stacking the Shelves & Recent Reads | The BiblioSanctum

  10. Totally agree with your review. This book was certainly entertaining but I wasn’t expecting such a romantic aspect (or the lack of actual cool librarians).

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  11. If you don’t like high-heat-level, inventive and boundary-pushing sex in your dystopian reading, don’t bother with this author’s other books.

    Kit Rocha is a *phenomenon* in the Erotic Romance world, with her “Beyond” series, set in the same dystopia, post-Flare world, located roughly in current day Idaho (there’s even a mention of a plot element from the “Beyond” series in “Deal,” but you have to have read the “Beyond” series to catch it). All of her “Beyond” series has her characters having sex, some of it way into pearl-clutching territory. But not once have I felt the smexy times overshadowed the emotional arc of the characters as they grow into their relationships and overcome their emotional damage to be able to accept that they are worthy of love and to give it back whole-heartedly. The primary defining theme of Romance or Erotic Romance is the emotional arc of the characters as they fall in love and their Happily Ever After or Happily For Now ending.

    I would say that, in comparison to the “Beyond” series, the smexy times in “Deal” were quite tame, most likely because “Mercenary Librarians” isn’t being published by a house that handles Romance or Erotic Romance genre novels. That said, the author also toned down the emotional arc of the story, since it was being published by a house that is known for sci-fi and fantasy genre work, and many purist SF/F readers don’t like romance in the genre; romantic elements *might* be okay, if it’s low-key and doesn’t distract from the SF/F plot.

    Thanks for being honest that you didn’t do your homework about the author and their previous work and that romance/romantic elements in SF/F don’t put you off reading it.

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  12. Very well-written, Mogsy. I’m a romance lover. I don’t mind a few steamy scenes. But, as you pointed out, I’ll definitely like to know the book has a major part dealing with romance than being surprised by it.

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