Review – Redemption (Defiance #2) by Stephanie Tyler

Redemption cover image
Publisher: Carina Press
Publish Date: Nov 18th
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher

Mathias Robichaud is looking for an alliance. The Defiance motorcycle club is a stronghold in the dangerous world that’s become the new norm and he’s driven to prove he’s tough enough to be sworn in as a full member. But when he sees a beautiful, spirited girl abducted by a rival MC, rescuing her jeopardizes all he’s worked for.

Politician’s daughter Jessa Everson knows what’s expected of her—obedience, loyalty and silence—but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t fight when she’s kidnapped by the Lords of Vengeance. Having Mathias save her is like gaining an avenging angel in leather and tattoos. But Defiance is known for brutal justice, and she may have just traded one bad situation for another.

Mathias’s urge to protect is too strong to ignore, no matter how much trouble Jessa brings to Defiance’s gates. There’s no room in the post-Chaos world for weakness so if Mathias and Jessa have any chance of surviving, they’ll need to put their full strength behind the MC…and hope that the MC will do the same for them.
This blurb came from the author’s website.
I read Defiance earlier this year with a few of my fellow Book Pushers and while not perfect I found the idea intriguing, the characters distinctive, and some lingering questions about the events that led to the apocalypse. I was interested in finding out what was going to happen in the next installment since the status quo was significantly altered. I was also very intrigued by the two deserters who were supporting Defiance but had not formally joined. Reading the back cover blurb and finding out that the hero was one of the deserters increased my interest. Tyler answered some of the questions I was wondering and in doing so raised others. While Mathias was the hero in this story, he and Bishop were so intertwined from childhood that he was present in most of the scenes. However, Tyler made a point to demonstrate that Bishop thought of Mathias as a brother and viewed Jessa platonically.

Mathias was on a quest to redeem himself for some of his actions in the past. Even as a young boy he was incapable of walking by when someone needed rescuing. This trait brought him both his best friend, a brother by another mother, and more trouble than he could count. He and Bishop were enjoying time outside during a few of the rare sunlit hours discussing their plans for the future when the peace was broken by a terrified scream. Mathias and Bishop were known for being constantly on the move. Due to their status as deserters and a dislike of those who abused power and therefore innocents, they never remained in one place long enough to put down roots. Their time in Defiance was the longest they had been in one place since deserting the army and they were starting to feel restless. After assessing the situation Mathias insisted on intervening, a decision that changed his life.

Jessa grew up the pampered daughter of a high-ranking politician groomed to make a political marriage and carry on her family’s influence in running the country, or what was left of it. Jessa wasn’t happy in her designated role and when her parents would not listen to her thoughts she rebelled by attempting to kill herself multiple times. After her most recent and most serious attempt she married her childhood acquaintance, the man she was supposed to marry in her father’s political scheme. After trusting him with the politically deadly secrets she overheard, she found herself betrayed by her husband and being sold as a sex slave. Her rescue by Mathias and Bishop was an opportunity to change her life for the better if she was willing to take a chance.

I ended up having mixed feelings about the main characters. I absolutely loved learning more about both Bishop and Mathias. Their story was a mixture of uplifting and sad. The insights into what made them who they were did a lot to explain the decisions each made throughout the story. I really hope their circumstances at the end of this story don’t jeopardize their bond. Jessa, on the other hand, puzzled me. She didn’t fit in her pampered world but also showed far less distress at more primitive living than I would have expected. She also continued to believe her husband even after knowing what he was willing to do. She waffled between trusting and not trusting any of the members of Defiance including Mathias until it was too late. While some of my puzzlement was relieved when I found out her final secret, I still had some issues with her rationale when it came to her husband.

While I thought the world-building and some of the story flow was better, I had a harder time believing in the romance in this installment. I think part of it was my fascination with Mathias and Bishop combined with the difficulty I experienced trying to connect to Jessa. I couldn’t get past thinking the attraction was much more one-sided.

You found out you get to keep living.

He let me digest that for a long moment and then explained, For a lot of people who weren’t in your position, they think it’s about not dying. But when you really think about it, you found out today that you get to keep on living instead. And that’s a whole other ball game.

Mathias was willing to sacrifice an immense amount for Jessa but I never had the feeling that she would be willing to make an equivalent sacrifice. I did really enjoy how Jessa worked to communicate with Mathias without requiring an interpreter. I also thought the way Tyler brought forward the subtleties of body language into Mathias’ interactions a nice way to remind people that entire conversations can occur without a single spoken word.

As I was reading Redemption and catching the expanded pieces of worldbuilding, I found it fascinating to put the pieces together from the opposite perspectives of Mathias and Jessa for the same cataclysmic event. As I filled in the picture I was reminded of an old science fiction duology by Philip Wylie called When Worlds Collide and After Worlds Collide. Only instead of following the lives of the privileged few, the focus was on the non-privileged who dared to make their own living. This helped me visualize the new generation of Defiance and how they were changing the old culture while defending their lifestyle.

I am still curious about what is going to happen next as things look like they are building up to a confrontation of some sort. I have a lot of questions about Mathis and a certain member of Defiance along with wondering about a particular secret. I think I know what it is but I am not exactly sure yet. I also want to see Mathis and Jessa’s relationship grow because I am not exactly comfortable with where this book ended and their HEA.

I give Redemption a B-/C+

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