Surrender by Jean Brashear
Available on Amazon Kindle
An addicted drug addict found dead in a plaza in Santa Fe. Young rape victims who don’t remember their attack, and another young woman found dead, apparently also a rape victim. Ribbons of evil, separate strands of the malaise gripping the modern world.
But to Jace Carroll, just promoted to the rank of detective in the Violent Crimes Unit, those unrelated incidents present a puzzling challenge and the opportunity to forever leave behind the life she’d lived when she was Justine, responsible for a drunken mother and baby brother Jimmy. Torn from her father, a police officer killed in the line of duty when she was only twelve.
Jace’s work in the Santa Fe police department catches the attention of those who admire her ability and those who would just as soon see her fail. Discreet in her sex-only relationship with Assistant D.A. Gabriel McMullen, in control of her career, Jace encounters the past when Jimmy comes briefly back into her life, announcing that he no longer needs her and has joined a group following the Magos, who can lead the world back to the ancient powers and truths.
Logical Jace dismisses the “woo woo” nonsense espoused by Jimmy and her friend Myra, but confronts forces she cannot understand when she gains entrance to The Club, an underground meeting place that seems tied to a sudden uptick in violent deaths.
Gaining access to The Club, however, presents her with new questions. Primarily a haunt for the bored and well-to-do, how do underage young women gain access to such a closely guarded, mobile experience? Her undercover visits to The Club stir up forces more malignant than the incense and drug-laced smoke and primal music that encourage club goers to lose themselves in the power and mindless abandon of their own urges. A new laboratory drug based on plant toxins has created an atomosphere for uninhibited sex--the Santa Fe Orgy, she dubs it--but that atmosphere is turning from sexual to sinister as casualties mount.
Dante Sabanne is an accepted expert on poisons, ancient religions, and sexual practices of the world. Jace seeks him first to enlist his help in her case, but finds only confusion and doubt. Is the raven-haired, silver-eyed collector of antiquities involved with a cult? Is he the Magos, the leader of a cult whose members are initiated in sexual rites directed by a priestess? And the man to whom she surrendered her body and mind? Or at least, thinks she might have, because once she meets Dante, her ordered world no longer makes sense. Cast both into the ecstasy and the terror of spiraling stars and ribbons of color when Dante touches her, she struggles to regain her no-nonsense, one-of-the-guys demeanor that will let her succeed as a cop.
For his part, Dante has traveled the world, looking for the Eye of the Magos, the heirloom amulet passed down to him from his father but literally cut from his throat by dark forces working to cast the world into evil with the help of the powerful green stone. Santa Fe represents the final stop in his journey and failure if he is unable to connect with the one person—his prism—that will help him regain the amulet and find his way to the Soul Star. Only if his journey ends in success can he regain his own lost faith and ability to help heal the damages evil wreaks. The physical connection he feels to Jace shocks him, but can the pragmatic detective ever understand what she means to him?
Brashear’s works are always well-written, emotional, and satisfying. Her characters are memorable. Jace and Dante will not be forgotten, nor will the evil Markos Petrakis or Dante’s student Simon—the Keeper. Dante’s teenage sister, Cassie, hovers on a ledge between innocent and wanton, unaware of the evil closing in around her, seeking to engulf those she loves as it consumes her.
One’s first impulse might be to say the book is the time-honored fight between good and evil, but that would be to over-simplify Surrender. Good and evil collide, as do the pursuits of healthy sexuality and perversion, the ability to trust and the inability to recognize possibilities outside the routine human experience. Traditionally, too, one knows the outcome in a good vs evil fight, but Brashear keeps us guessing about the outcome in this one.
Surrender, trust, family, love and hope are among the tightly-woven threads of this suspenseful, sensual story that kept me glued to my chair from beginning to end. And from the striking cover to the last word—surrender is what Brashear exacts from her willing readers.