Buried in the shadows of the city, there’s a hotel called The Pope. Ailing, empty, and dark, it sits abandoned and surrounded by a forgotten mystery.
But you think it’s true, don’t you, Kai Mori? The story about the hidden twelfth floor. The mystery of the dark guest who never checked in and never checks out. You think I can help you find that secret hideaway and get to him, don’t you?
You and your friends can try to scare me. You can try to push me. Because even though I struggle to hide everything I feel when you look at me—and have ever since I was a girl—I think maybe what you seek is so much closer than you’ll ever realize.
I will never betray him.
So sit tight.
On Devil’s Night, the hunt will be coming to you.
You have no idea what I seek, Little One. You don’t know what I had to become to survive three years in prison for a crime I would gladly commit again.
No one can know what I’ve turned into.
I want that hotel, I want to find him, and I want this over.
I want my life back.
But the more I’m around you, the more I realize this new me is exactly who I was meant to be.
So come on, kid. Don’t chicken out. My house is on the hill. So many ways in, and good luck finding your way out.
I’ve seen your hideaway. Time to see mine.
Kai Mori was one of my favorite characters in Corrupt so I was looking forward to his story and I wasn’t disappointed. One thing that surprised me about this book is that I didn’t think it was nearly as hot as Rika and Michael’s story. Kai is the broody alpha type and clearly has some kinks, if you recall the sauna scene. This book even started with him talking about how he likes to watch so I expected things to be even steamier but found it tamer than the previous story.
Regardless, I still enjoyed Kai’s book immensely. It covered his complex relationship with his parents and the trials of his new life after prison, then threw in a mysterious woman from his past and a few new curveballs. Kai obviously regrets going to prison but has no remorse for his crime. He and Will are convicted felons, having savagely beaten a police officer but all isn’t what it seems. While they looked like two out-of-control thugs to the world, in reality they were attacking a predator with no conscience and Kai wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
“You don’t know what I had to become to survive three years in prison for a crime I would gladly commit again.”
Damon has been in hiding since the events on the Pithom at the end of Corrupt about a year before this story begins. The four friends are on alert since he’s the sole remaining threat to Rika but Kai needs to find him and the others have no idea why. Kai carries a dark secret, one he’s never shared with Michael or Will but Damon knows. Even worse, Damon has the leverage to destroy his former friend. While the other three would be content so long as he stayed away, Kai’s willing to do whatever it takes to mitigate the threat posed by his former friend.
Kai visits Damon’s father in an effort to find him and offers to strike a deal assuring his former friend’s safety in exchange for his cooperation. He offers to purchase an abandoned hotel in the hopes that Damon’s hiding out there but nothing about this will be easy. While there, they meet his assistant, a woman named Banks, but can’t determine her true role in Gabriel Torrance’s criminal empire.
“I locked my jaw and raised a hard look to Gabriel . . . Given all my resentment of Damon Torrance – how he’d tried to kill me last year, how he betrayed Will and Michael, and how he’d tried to hurt Rika – I’d never failed to remember what a true monster looked like.”
Banks and Kai are forced to work closely due to the specifics of his deal with Gabriel and we soon learn the two have a history that started seven years ago. The sexual tension between the two is almost overshadowed by the overall tension of Damon lurking out there, a constant threat. Like the prior book, the actions takes place both now and in flashbacks to the horsemen’s high school days. We also get Banks’ POV, which is fantastic. She’s a complex character, tough as nails yet beholden to Gabriel despite him treating her dreadfully. Banks’ whole life has been at the mercy of people unworthy of her, from her strung-out neglectful mother to Gabriel’s ownership and his unwavering insistence that women are useless possessions. Her heartbreaking backstory that will make you loathe the villains in this story even more but her pain also gives us an opportunity to see the goodness in Kai, in the way he strives to make her life better without expecting anything in return.
Damon is a main character in this book despite his absence, playing critical roles in both the past and present. I wasn’t a big Damon fan in the first book and this book made me loathe him. His backstory is revealed here as well and while most fans seem to find sympathy and love for this damaged man-boy, I’d prefer he was killed off because I see no redeeming qualities in him, nothing humanizing about him, no reason that the others should care. I’m definitely in the minority though because Damon’s sad story has made him a huge fan favorite, especially with readers critical of Kai and Michael, which I find shocking. I love both characters and have no interest in more Damon but will read his book only because I want to finish the series.
I’d much rather Damon was killed off and Alex got her own book. That’s not going to happen but at least this lays the groundwork for how Damon became the monster he is today. We do get a lot more Alex in this book than the last, which I love and hope to see it continue through the remainder of the series. This was a great read, very different from the first in some ways but still a riveting story with compelling characters and I’ll probably read it again.