I really think this book would have been a better experience for me (or even better) if I had read some or all of the books in the series that came before this one. I did not read the other books in the series and there is a really complex underworld involved in this book. There is a lot of information about the complex underworld as well as characters who I believe were featured in other books. In fact, I think 152 was introduced in another book about her brother. Because I didn't have the background on the context of the setting of the book and didn't know a whole lot about all the other characters, I found parts of this book to be disorienting. That's on me for not reading the other installments. And this is not a criticism of the book or me telling you not to read it. It's more me suggesting that because this book was good, you read the other ones first and don't be like me and try to start the series here.
So here's what I gathered from jumping in midstream: 901 is a...fighter in what is called the Blood Pit. The Blood Pit is located in this complex underworld that is run with an iron fist by "Master." In addition to the brutal fighters who make up the blood pit there are women called Mona who are basically sex slaves to the fighters and the guards who keep the fighters housed. There is one "high Mona" who is the personal sex slave to Master. 152 is selected to be the High Mona. At the same time, Master is trying to figure out 901's weakness. Even though 901 fights in the Master's pit he can't be controlled because he doesn't fear death. He also can't be controlled because he has no attachments and no weaknesses. Master figures out that 152 has caught 901's eye. In a way that I can't really describe for you (it was a little sci-fyish, Master forces 901 and 152 together.
The book sets up a really weird environment for a romance but it worked. 901 wants nothing to do with 152 at first because he knows that attachments to women have done other soldiers in. 901 finally gives in to...save 152 in a way...You just have to read it. From there, 901 discovers how much he has in common with 152. Their chemistry is ridiculous and instead of weakening him, 901 discovers the power to really be free through love. It was all kind of amazing to watch happen. I will warn you (if you have not read other Tillie Cole books), there is non-consensual sex, abuse and lots of violence. This book is not for the faint of heart. But for all you tough love romance readers, this will hit the spot. Just read the other books first.
**ARC provided by Publisher**