Renegade (Ripper #2) by Amy Carol Reeves
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Brimming with romance and danger, the suspenseful Ripper series continues
The Conclave—a secret group with twisted ideals and freakish practices—has been wiped out, thanks to Arabella Sharp. Now there’s a new malevolence afoot. Fishermen are getting killed, their partially devoured bodies washing up on the shores of Scotland. Is the Ripper responsible? Or have the Conclave’s sinister experiments left behind something more monstrous? Abbie fears the worst when her beloved Dr. William Siddal vanishes. To save the man she loves, Abbie must comply with the Ripper’s dreadful orders—and put her own life in grave danger.
Thanks to NetGalley and Flux for this eARC! This title will be released April 8th.
This review was completed by guest reviewer Sarah from Adventures in Storyland! Thank you, Sarah!
(Note: This is a review for the second book in a series. It contains spoilers for the first book, Ripper.)
“I saw bubbles in the greenish depths of water somewhere. A creature, dragon-like, with a tail. Claws. In the murky water, I saw the creature’s scaly haunches, thick and muscular like a lioness’s, as my nostrils became overwhelmed with the smell of fish, of seaweed. The monster had hair, long hazelnut hair billowing out like burnt gold threads in the water. I saw the swift, fleshy movements of breasts. I gasped and the dream left me almost as soon as it appeared.”
I wondered where the Ripper series could go after all of Jack the Ripper’s canonical victims had been killed in the first book. The killer lived, but I was still uncertain. As the series is called Ripper, I assumed it would stay within that realm. Instead, it goes off the charts. other than the continued interest of an inspector, the Ripper case is left behind. Renegade concentrates instead on the experiments done by the Conclave. In the quote above, Abbie experiences a vision of a lamia created by the Conclave’s experiments. There are also zombies of some sort, but that thread disappears about halfway through the book and never really comes back. I can only assume it will be used in the third book.
It’s easy for a YA period book to slap the reader across the face with how very different and radical the female protagonist is, and how all other women are sheep. Renegade avoids this. It’s certainly acknowledged that Abbie’s desire to be a doctor will be difficult since few medical programs admit women, but it’s mostly taken in stride. She’s an intelligent nurse with a dedication to her patients that wants to go to medical school, and that’s accepted. Other women aren’t insulted or shamed to make her look good. It’s refreshing.
The major annoyance for me in Renegade was Abbie’s love life. Early on in the book, she discovers that William, her major love interest from Ripper, had slept with a woman nearly twice his age that had once been his father’s mistress. This was before he ever met Abbie and took place at a tumultuous time in her life, but Abbie is furious and feels betrayed. She decides that she can’t trust William and that he’ll probably just be a philanderer like his father, so she ends their relationship and then spends a lot of time thinking about how very, very hurt she is. I was thrilled when she slapped William for saying, “After all, I’m a man,” as a reason for his affair, but that was the one bright point. I got so sick of hearing about it that I could feel my eyes and brain glazing over.
Chapters from the lamia Seraphina’s point of view were a welcome break from Abbie’s whining about William. Monster ladies are kind of the best, and this one was complex and interesting. She hungers for human flesh, but because she loves her human master and is loyal to the Conclave, she keeps her appetites at bay. She’s in charge of caring for the Conclave’s menagerie, and does so with great dedication. She loves the animals dearly. She’s a painter who never finishes her work. She lives alone on an island, isolated, waiting for the times when her master will return and struggling to keep a feeding frenzy at bay. It was fascinating to watch her development as a character. I could have read an entire book about her and done without Abbie altogether.
All in all, if you enjoyed Ripper, you’ll probably enjoy Renegade, if not like it more. I know I had a lot more fun with it than I did with its predecessor. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars. The writing wasn’t great, but it kept me entertained.