I received this book for free from the Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Vice or Consequences by A.J. Lape
Series: Rivera and Gutierrez Action Thrillers Book #4
Published by A. J. Lape on January 31, 2024
Genres: Fiction / Action & Adventure, Fiction / City Life, Fiction / Crime, Fiction / Hispanic & Latino, Fiction / Mystery & Detective / General, Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Police Procedural, Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Traditional, Fiction / Mystery & Detective / Women Sleuths, Fiction / Romance / Action & Adventure, Fiction / Romance / Police & Law Enforcement, Fiction / Thrillers / Crime, Fiction / Thrillers / Domestic, Fiction / Thrillers / General, Fiction / Thrillers / Psychological, Fiction / Thrillers / Suspense
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The deadliest wounds are often unseen. In the gritty underworld of Los Angeles, mob boss Gutierrez is on a mission to purge his organization of traitors. However, as he inches closer to the truth, a mysterious adversary targets his loyal gang members in a document leaked to the Internet. With the clock ticking and the shadows deepening, newly-benched vice cop, Rivera, extends a lifeline that will get Gutierrez out of town—propelling him into a white-knuckled investigation of an underground Florida fight club. Navigating a web of deceit, they're also tasked with protecting Captain Taylor's grandson. In a high-stakes showdown that tests their loyalty and resilience, Rivera and Gutierrez must leverage their training, cunning, and determination to emerge triumphant. Can they outsmart their foes, or will the shadows of their Los Angeles enemies finally consume them? Uncover the deadliest of secrets in Vice or Consequences, a tale of crime, loyalty, and survival in this fourth thriller in the Rivera and Gutierrez action fiction novellas. A dual POV, it's perfect for fans of Bosch, Ballard, Reacher, and other action fiction thrillers.
I can never spend enough time with Detective Ruby Rivera or the leader of the west coast territory of the AVO gang, Walter “Twenty Bucks” Gutierrez. After the disastrous fallout from the previous novella, Ruby finds herself benched and out of the undercover game while Gutierrez is no closer to finding out who’s trying to take over his territory while putting his life and those close to him in danger. When Ruby’s boss tasks her with a special, off-the-books assignment while she’s been benched at work, she jumps at the chance to protect Captain Taylor’s grandson in Florida. But she doesn’t want to go alone, and after a list of gang members in Gutierrez’s fold is published on the internet, he’s willing to drop everything in Los Angeles to get to the bottom of this new problem while having Ruby’s back.
Captain Taylor’s grandson is none other than Dylan Taylor, football superman who moonlights in an underground fight club. He’s pummeled his way through some very dangerous people both in the ring and on the football field, and there’s now a pretty hefty price on his head. Getting to see Dylan without Darcy (from A.J. Lape’s other series) was a real treat, and I certainly know that I would love, love, love to have a full book with Dylan as the main character. He has so much going on in Florida–football, college, this fight club–and his friends are very interesting as well. The little peeks we get at him from this novella and the Darcy books aren’t enough to get an accurate look at Dylan through his own eyes, not the rose-colored glasses of his girlfriend or his supportive family.
Ruby is at a very low point in this book. While she’s her usual snarky, resourceful, and smart self, her self-doubt is high at the beginning of Vice or Consequences. She’s back with her ex-boyfriend Jimmy, who is also a cop. Their relationship is very fragile at the moment since it seems that while Jimmy is all in, Ruby isn’t convinced that she’s worthy of a relationship. Her relationship with Gutierrez is equally complicated, but in a more forbidden way since she’s the law and he’s exactly the opposite of that. She hasn’t been mentally all in when it comes to work lately, and Gutierrez certainly clouds her judgement when their connection hums in the background.
Gutierrez’s life is crumbling around him as he does whatever he can to hold on tight to his control of those loyal to him. I was surprised at the lengths he went to when sussing out who was on the take. Mentally he’s not all in as he should be, and it may be his undoing. It was very interesting seeing how he systematically worked his way through the other gangs and even those in his who have a vendetta.
I give VICE OR CONSEQUENCES a five out of five. I thought the last installment was full of action and danger, but this one ramps it up with shootouts and even more subterfuge for both Ruby and Gutierrez. The writing is stellar as usual, and the tension in this one was so tight throughout that I was just waiting for it to snap and spill over everywhere. Having Dylan in this book was a nice change, and the little of Paddy we got always makes me smile. Dylan’s stabbing in a previous Darcy Walker book was wrapped up here in a very satisfying way. Both Ruby and Gutierrez make some strides personally that I loved to see. Character growth–especially in a novella–is a welcome and entertaining thing. I highly recommend this series as well as A.J. Lape’s Darcy Walker series.
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About A.J. Lape
A. J. Lape is the author of the top-rated Darcy Walker Series, Detective Ruby Rivera Novella Series, and 15 Saddles Motor Cycle Club novellas. She lives in the unpredictable and chaotic weather of Cincinnati with her husband, two daughters, a dog, and hamster.
Graduating from the hills of Morehead State University with a Master’s degree in Communications, she double-majored in English and journalism but basically went to grad school because she wasn’t ready to grow up. A PI wannabe, she stops crime daily through her characters while adding a dose of hope, humor, faith, and edge-of-your seat thrills. If the FBI ever checks her computer, she may be wearing prison-orange due to the “wiki” articles she researches—all, of course, in the name of career research, insomnia, and straight-up boredom.
A perfect day for A. J. consists of writing in her favorite recliner, feeding her addiction to Coca-Cola, then lounging in her pajamas by 8PM. And sometimes a late night walk with her husband where she stares at the sky and contemplates the mysteries of the universe. She swears by two things: God is real, and so are aliens—and she hopes to one day be beamed up.
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