Review – Caught in Amber by Cathy Pegau

Caught in Amber cover image
Publisher: Carina Press
Publish Date: Jan 28th
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recently out of rehab, Sasha James is determined to keep her head down, complete her parole, and never touch amber again. The chip in her neck controls her cravings for the highly addictive drug, but also tracks her every move. Not that she goes anywhere other than work and the halfway house she calls home—a far cry from her luxurious former life as lover of the mining colony’s top drug dealer, Guy Christiansen.
Agent Nathan Sterling has no desire to see Sasha fall back into amber, but his sister has become Guy’s latest conquest and the unexpectedly attractive Sasha is the key to getting her back. So in exchange for an introduction, he offers Sasha the one thing she can’t refuse—her freedom. From the chip, her parole, and even the planet if she wants. Though he would be sorry to see her go…
Torn between her growing attraction to Nathan, fear of Guy and the allure of amber, Sasha accepts. But who will save her if Guy refuses to let her go a second time?

This blurb came from the author’s website.

I was browsing Netgalley (I know this appears to be a common theme) looking for upcoming books when I ran across Caught in Amber I was already reading Rulebreaker, also by Pegau and set in the same world, so I took a look at the blurb. Everything about it just screamed my name so I went ahead and requested a copy. My advice is that you do not start reading this if you have anything you are supposed to do for the next several hours, including such things like sleep, eat, or go to work. After introducing the characters and the set-up, Pegau does not let up on the tension until the book ends.

Sasha was such a complex person. She was paying her dues for breaking the law and determined to do what she needed to live out the terms of her parole while she regained as much of a life as she could. Sasha went from the pretty girl next door to the mistress of a suspected drug kingpin, drug addict, and then ex-convict. Along the way her family decided that she had made her choices so they decided she was no longer part of the family. Sasha was strong enough to leave Guy but not strong enough to resist her amber addiction. She was caught shoplifting in an attempt to get enough money to pay for her next dose. As a result of stealing, when the reader meets Sasha all she had was a few acquaintances, her permanent convict chip and a weekly appointment at the parole office to ensure she stayed off of amber. Amber was the drug of choice for the mining colony and it seemed to possess a mixture of the effects of cocaine and methamphetamine. Its name was derived from the signature color.

Nathan wanted one thing and that was to rescue his sister, Kylie, from Guy’s clutches and her amber addiction. Privy to knowledge about Guy’s latest set of mistresses, none of whom were still living, and their physical similarities to Sasha, he deduced that Guy still had an obsession with Sasha that he could use to his advantage. Nathan didn’t want anything bad to happen to Sasha but he also was willing to do and promise whatever he had to gain Sasha’s assistance. I thought he was extremely callous but it was understandable. Heck, he even thought he should be ashamed of some of the things he promised. However, as the book continued and Nathan began to see Sasha as more than a tool his mindset changed. That resulted in my liking Nathan as the hero and not just as a protective older brother.

Pegau had my sympathies for Sasha from the very beginning. Even though she made a series of bad choices she had learned her lesson. Not to mention she developed an iron will and refused to get sucked back into Guy’s world. I was really worried about her as she spent more time dealing with Guy’s obsession and around the temptation of amber while juggling Nathan’s interest. I was continually amazed by her choices and her dedication to get Nathan’s sister out despite the danger to herself, and not just physically but mentally. In fact she was the one who kept Nathan from destroying their chances of success several times. Nathan took a while to grow on me. A few times he verged on TSTL actions brought about by the combination of his sense of protectiveness and guilt at bringing Sasha into the situation. Once Nathan’s viewpoint of Sasha changed, I totally fell for him. He played the criminal so well yet he also felt responsible for everyone. I enjoyed his interactions with his work partner, Natalia Hallowell, and Guy’s personal assistant, Genevieve Caine. He never once treated them like they were less than equals which I thought boded well for his continued relationship with Sasha. My heart completely melted as he honored his bargain with Sasha, gave her the freedom to do whatever she wanted and then asked if she would stay with him.

As I said in the beginning, Pegau continued to crank up the tension as the book progressed. Each time I thought I could take a breather, things got more exciting which increased my reading enjoyment. I really enjoyed the tension build up and how Sasha and Nathan got to know each other. I also liked the supporting characters such as Natalia and Genevieve who had so many layers hinted at but never revealed. Pegau also makes sure that the bad boys get their comeuppance one way or another. While Caught in Amber is the second book set in this particular world you do not have to read Rulebreaker first but it will introduce you to the world and its peculiarities. I enjoyed reading Caught in Amber and I am looking forward to Pegau’s next book.

I give Caught in Amber an A-

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