It took me longer to settle into this franchise than it did the Ocean’s Gift series by the same author, of which I’m a big fan. But settle into it I ultimately did. This is a tongue-in-cheek look at the corporate world as we know it today, filled with nightmarish Kafkaesque red tape, oppressive mind games meant at enslaving your will in ways Mesmer would envy, to say nothing of the soul-sucking grind that accompanies the often less than satisfying if not totally meaningless day-to-day work. The military, what’s more, could learn a thing or two about psy-ops warfare from even a corporate middle management type, far less one of their CEOs, which, of course, is who our heroine is up against. So when Mel is afraid of losing her mind and her soul, trust me, she’s not alone; most readers will likely be giving a quiet nod, if not outright cheering the lambasting prose. Anyone who has spent even five minutes in corporate America will find it hard not to identify with the often too-real-for-words parody going on here.
But all the mirth directed at what is truthfully more correctly referred to today as corporate transglobal (now that Corporate America has spread across the world) is just background noise in this story, contributing to a sense of place and time. At heart, this is a romance story. And, you guessed it, the romantic story thread fundamentally asks the question, can an entirely unredemptive soul be transformed by love, even in a place like this? Can the snake turn the tables on the snake charmer? The odds are entirely against Mel, but it’s fun watching the corrosive force of love at work in a place determined to kill it not just at all costs, but with the professionalism and expertise brought to the task by Lucifer and his cleverest demons.
As to my nitpicks, I thought many of the cliffhangers were a little soft, and the first person storytelling robs us of some of the depth of character of the people she’s describing, which might well have been better appreciated by getting outside of Mel’s head and into theirs at times. Also, HELL corporation, often seems, if anything, less scary than what goes on in the real world.