The second book in the Beyond spin-off series, Gideon’s Riders, features the leader of the Riders and the first woman to break through to join their ranks. Deacon is a hardened, self-contained man who leads through example and has managed to stay alive while so many of his brethren have fallen. When Bren and Six ask for his opinion on a murder in another sector he quickly realizes his past has finally caught up with him. Haunted by what led him to Sector One, Gideon, and the Riders he finally comes clean to everyone about his bloody past in order to ready them for what’s coming. He is prepared for their censure and doubt, he is even prepared for the rift it will create between them, what he is not prepared for is Ana and her understanding and ability to see right down to his very soul.
Ana is the first woman Rider and she takes her position very seriously. She is strong and knows that there are so many little girls in the sector who look up to her. Deacon has always been the solid, impenetrable leader of Gideon’s Riders and when he confesses the sins of his past she is determined not to let him hide from the very people who have always had his back. They’ve always had chemistry in the fighting ring, but after one training session it explodes into a sexual tension that neither can deny anymore. Now they are not only finding their way in a new world without Eden, and with different enemies out to eliminate them, but they also have to figure out how to handle their newfound feelings for each other.
As a huge Beyond fan I will admit to being absolutely thrilled that this writing duo decided to carry on with stories in this world. Sector One is so different from Sector Four, but no less intriguing. While the O’Kanes take hedonistic pleasure to new levels, which I totally revel in, Sector One with their poly marriages and faithful religious society piqued my interest even before I knew that was where Kit Rocha was headed next. Deacon and Ana were both introduced in the first book in the series, Ashwin, as the first Rider ever and the first woman Rider. I didn’t really feel their chemistry in Ashwin’s book, but trust me… they have it. It kind of explodes onto the page and never lets up for a second until the very end.
As much as I enjoyed Ashwin’s book, I don’t think I really started to get to know this group of skilled fighters until Deacon. Their whole lives are spent in service to their Sector and the Rios family and each and every one truly believes that their ulitmate goal in life is to sacrifice themselves in service. The Riders have never formed long-lasting romantic or familial relationships because it has always been understood that they may not come back from a mission. Then Eden came down, many Riders lost their lives during the final takedown, and now the future of the sectors looks very different. Ana and Deacon really are the first of their kind, not only in their statuses within the Riders, but because they are the first to realize that there is more to life than an ultimate sacrifice, but that maybe they can start to actually live and love and be happy.
Regardless of the title, I believe Ana stole the show. She is powerful, she is smart, she gives as good as she gets and I completely connected to her and her moments of doubt. As the first woman admitted into the Riders she feels like she always has to be the best, and is always trying to prove herself so she never lets anyone down. I loved the scene where Gideon admits to her that her heart, passion and convictions are why he ultimately chose her to join his Riders. Deacon is determined to sacrifice himself in order to protect everyone around him, but it’s Ana and her bravery that ultimately save the day and open the doors to a change in the mindset of Gideon and his faithful protectors.
While I do believe you can read Deacon as a standalone, I’m not sure why you would want to. Go ahead, binge yourself on Sector Four and One goodness. I promise it’ll be the one of the best binges of your reading life. I have no idea when the third book in this series, Ivan, is due to release, but I’ve already got it on my TBR list. Final grade- B-
Deacon was staring at her like the path to his heart led through her.