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Book CoverLiviania’s review of Made to Be Broken (Nadia Stafford, Book 2) by Kelley Armstrong
Thriller released by Bantam 24 Feb 09

For those who don’t know, Kelley Armstrong’s Nadia Stafford books are not paranormal.  No vamps, no werewolves, no nothing.  Instead, they’re thrillers with hitmen as the protagonists.  As I love hitmen I’m totally cool with that, but readers familiar with her other series might be disappointed. 

Nadia grew up in a cop family and spent her entire life working to be a cop.  Then everything came crashing down after she shot a guilty man who the jury was going to let walk.  She started a lodge in Canada and shortly after began performing hits for the mob.  She balances the two lives, but sometimes they cross over.  Her newest employee, a teenage mother, goes missing with her baby and no one cares since they were just white trash.  It reminds Nadia of her own past, so she uses her cop skills and assassin contacts to find out what happened to Sammi and Destiny Ernst.

Since the hitmen are the protagonists there are a number of moral issues that could be raised, but mostly it’s just an acknowledgment that they aren’t good guys.  It helps that the people they’re after are thoroughly despicable and it’s hard to blame Nadia for wanting them dead.

The romance is very slow moving.  Quinn and Nadia got together in the heat of the moment in Exit Strategy, but have since regressed to only talking.  Both are interested in a relationship, but Nadia knows she’s not in love with him.  On the other hand, she’s definitely got UST with her mentor Jack, who seems completely uninterested.  She doesn’t know whether to go for the good relationship without fiery passion and doubts waiting for Jack would ever amount to anything.  The pace of the relationships works because Armstrong does it well and makes her characters’ decisions reasonable.

The thriller part is well done too.  Nadia uses her head and puts the pieces together, though she can sometimes be impulsive.  She chooses her allies wisely and their skill sets compliment each other.  Plus, you don’t have to worry about whether they’re following proper procedure.  She hopes to deliver legal evidence to the cops of what happened, but Nadia is all about getting the evidence illegally.  Made to Be Broken keeps the focus on the plot and the relationships, keeping everything tight and fast-paced.

I enjoy the Nadia Stafford books.  She’s non-glamorous and possesses a sense of justice despite her job.  There’s action and romantic tension, always a good combination.  Armstrong is famous for her paranormals, but readers shouldn’t ignore her thrillers.  They have the same qualities that make her Women of the Otherworld series worth reading.  I hope a third Nadia book is in the pipeline.

liviania.jpgGrade: B+

The author of the acclaimed Women of the Otherworld series returns with her latest novel featuring an exciting heroine with a lethal hidden talent. This time she’s hot on the trail of a young woman no one else cares about—and a killer who’s bound to strike again.Nadia Stafford isn’t your typical nature lodge owner. An ex-cop with a legal code all her own, she’s known only as “Dee” to her current employer: a New York crime family that pays her handsomely to bump off traitors. But when Nadia discovers that a troubled teenage employee and her baby have vanished in the Canadian woods, the memory of a past loss comes back with a vengeance and her old instincts go into overdrive.
With her enigmatic mentor, Jack, covering her back, Nadia unearths sinister clues that point to an increasingly darker and deadlier mystery. Now, with her obsession over the case deepening, the only way Nadia can right the wrongs of the present is to face her own painful ghosts—and either bury them for good, or die trying. Because in her book everyone deserves a chance. And everyone deserves justice.
Read an excerpt here.

Other books in this series:

Exit Strategy