Wow, what a difference from the first book!
Slightly disconcerting the names of some people had changed - looking at Amazon it appears that there have been several iterations of the series for different publishers, some of which necessitated the changes.
Shahara is a Seax (as I understand it Seax are above reproach law enforcement agents whose sole responsibility is to ensure justice). She is the oldest of four and has been the sole carer for her two sisters and brother since their mother and father died – I found this odd as both Kasen and Caillen have jobs and mentioned contributing money. The youngest sister (Trisa?) is a gambler, obsessed by get-rich-quick schemes and we start the novel with her having been put in hospital for failing to pay gambling debts. There was also mention of a chronic medical condition although it was unclear whether it was Trisa or Kasen who suffered. In order to save her sister's life and keep her in hospital, Shahara takes on a bounty case to apprehend C I Syn, a notorious filch (thief/hacker) and alleged murderer/rapist.
Syn (Rachol from the first book – glad that name changed) bears little resemblance to the description from the first book. He is the son of the most notorious filch/murderer/torturer in history – the sort whose crimes live on the collective memory. Syn's life has been horrific, beaten and tortured by his father, his virginity sold to paedophiles, abandoned and rejected by his mother. After his sister kills herself as a result of their father's brutality Syn informs against him to the authorities. Instead of rewarding him they place him (as a child of 10 years old) into an adult maximum security prison. Partly as a result of his father's brutal but highly effective training, and partly as a result of having to survive as a child on the streets, Syn has become the best filch in the universe and has extraordinary skills at evading detection. Despite this, Shahara finds him because he bought a fighter (well some kind of plane) and she traced where it was stored – sneaky, not!
The plot involves Syn and Shahara trying to find a disc which contains a confession by the President (or his father) that he arranged the assassination of the former President. Unbeknown to Syn, Shahara is being helped by the President's father – she is expected to double-cross Syn in order to safeguard her family.
Probably for the first half of the book I was really enjoying the fast-paced chases and the witty repartee between Syn and Shahara as they dodged the various parties trying to capture Syn. Then it was as though Ms Kenyon had to create some angst. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, Syn bemoaned that he was worthless filth, that no upstanding citizen like Shahara could ever want to be with scum like him. Despite the fact that they had slept together. Even after she says she loves him. I get that his wife had rejected him when she discovered his real identity – but then she was a two-timing, money-grubbing, social climber anyway. Added to that, Shahara worried that she wasn't good enough for Syn. He was used to a wife who knew how to use the right knives and forks, was elegant, poised and could converse with high society – she lived in a condemned building and had a rough and dirty job. On and on, pages of manufactured angst.
Also Syn's uncle Digger was an enigma. He watched his brother brutalise his children, beat them, torture them, sell them to paedophiles, starve them AND HE DID NOTHING! Yet, at the same time he was in prison and had been planning his escape for several year – when Syn was put in prison it was easy for him to change his plans to add Syn to the list – maybe I got the timeline wrong but it didn't seem to make sense unless his uncle helped him to escape from prison the second time – but then he wouldn't have been a child? Also, Syn helped Nero to escape prison, but Nero didn't know that Syn had been in prison twice? Overall, I found Digger's story unimpressive and he seemed to serve more as a way of telling Shahara all about Syn's childhood – would an uncle really tell a complete stranger all the shocking and intimate details of his nephew's childhood?
So, I felt that there were a few plot holes. I also felt that both Syn and Shahara changed personalities at a round the halfway mark and became irritating with their "woe is me" sackcloth and ashes routines. I also wasn't convinced by the way in which Shahara's betrayal was whitewashed – it was too much of a "ta da" moment for me and added nothing to the story.
But, despite the niggles this was leaps and bounds better than the edition of the first in the series I read. I will definitely be reading the next one.