TeriLyn's thoughts: **Conscience generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.**
I don't know where to start so please forgive me if this review is all over the place. It's important to me for anyone reading this review to know that I do not normally read dystopian, politically thrilling romances, in fact I've never read one. I'm not into futuristic all that much. I abhor politics. But for some reason this series caught my eye with the first book Dissident, which I loved. Why am I telling you this? Because it FEELS SO GOOD to have went outside my normal reading box. And it feels so good because Conscience is a phenomenal, dark, gritty, beautiful, empowering read. I think if you are reading this review, then you should read this book too.
Told in third person, Conscience continues the story of Jack McIntyre and Caroline Gerard, two political figures from opposite parties who fell hard for each other. Just as in book one, Dissident, the story is told from Caroline's dire present situation interlaced with vivid flashbacks from the time in her life post-meeting Jack. This author perfectly converges the past with the present in a variety of ways. The past sets the tone allowing for the hurt of the present to be much more acute to the reader. In contrast, the past reads as much sweeter because the flashbacks provide solace to not only Caroline but to the reader as well. However, these beautiful memories heighten the distress in the reader because of the danger Caroline currently faces. To me, this was a brilliant way Cecilia London chose to drive this story forward. The past and present being both painful and beautiful all at once creates a maelstrom of emotion the reader can't even fully process until it's over because of how invested we become in the story.
Jack McIntyre and Caroline Gerard are vibrant characters who light up the pages of Conscience. Their evolving love story hails as one for the ages in it's honesty, vulnerability and passion. Their friends first before anything else. The trust these two exhibit for each other knows no bounds and that trust shines on every aspect of their relationship. The hero and heroine alike are sharp, witty, strong, vulnerable, and passionate in every aspect of their lives. Many moments of pure, unadulterated pleasure solidifies the trust and passion in their relationship. London writes epic passionate scenes without being overly graphic and giving so much excellent banter and vocal reassurance the reader viscerally feels their connection.
As well the main love story the author builds meaningful relationships between Caroline and the secondary characters; extraordinary friendships built upon the same passion and trust shared between her and Jack. There was one particular chapter showcasing the beauty of Caroline and Christine's friendship where Irene messaged me and said "I want to be best friends like this!" and all I could say was a resounding - "YES!".
This book is as dark as it is light. As beautiful as it as brutal. It's the story of Caroline Gerard and the life she's led, leads, and will fight to preserve. It's her dignity as a human being. It's a reminder that there still are people in the world who stand up for exactly what they believe against all odds. The whole story completely captivating and engrossing. I felt exhausted in the best way once I was through. I cried for all the joy and triumph. I cried for the utter devastation. I felt the desperate hope Caroline instilled in me, I shook with the fear I know in my heart Caroline feels, and I triple checked the locks on my doors in order to keep the bad guys who are torturing this woman away. Another reading friend, Suzanne, put it perfectly in her review when she said at the end she felt like a whole pile of emotions landed in her lap that she was holding in while reading.
Obviously, I could go on and on. Bottom line, Cecilia London created a captivating, dark, intense, beautiful love story in The Bellator Saga. As a new author, she's completely blown me away. Conscience was a brilliantly written book, London's prose utterly engaging, intelligent, sexy, and witty.
There's a scene in the book where Caroline relays to Jack that she'll follow him anywhere. Well Cecilia London, I pass that sentiment on to you and your upcoming stories. Can't wait for more!