“AVIA I: Thunderstorms & 45’s” is the debut novel for thriller author Stacey Carroll. “AVIA II: Bullets & Betrayal” is the follow-up. I decided to review both novels together since AVIA I leads directly into AVIA II, although AVIA II can be read as a stand-alone. Personally, I recommend reading AVIA I first, as it will make AVIA II more enjoyable as far as getting to know the main characters and understanding the “why” of events in the second book.
Thunderstorms & 45’s!
In “AVIA I: Thunderstorms & 45’s,” we meet the title character, Avia Conn. We learn pretty much right away that she has a chance to con a rich woman out of fifty million dollars before her vacation to Hawaii. She’s going to need help to do it, though. To do this, she calls in people she calls her “cousins.” Meanwhile, she is still dealing with serious heroin addiction and alcoholism that she’s been battling for many years. Can her protector and love of her life, Benton Docks, help Avia pull of this heist and get the hell out of town before it’s too late?
This heist thriller is a page-turner. It’s fast-paced with many twists and turns. As is the case with many best-laid plans, things don’t go according to plan. You really don’t know where the plot is going next. The unpredictability of AVIA I is a major part of this book’s appeal.
For me, the best part of this book is the two main characters, Avia Conn and Benton Docks. While they definitely have a steamy romance, it’s an extremely complex relationship. Benton has to put up with a lot of nonsense with Avia with alcohol and drug addictions, but he loves her as she is, which isn’t easy.
There’s a lot going on in AVIA I, but it’s deftly handled by the author. It isn’t what you might call a “high-octane” thriller, but it gets you hooked pretty much from the first page. Avia and Benton are very likeable characters, and while there are others, they are certainly the most likeable. This is good, because they are the main characters in AVIA II, as well.
Be forewarned that it does contain a fair amount of sex scenes, but all are important in the development of both the plot and characters. It’s not an erotic romance, but this book definitely has plenty of adult scenes. Then again, in Avia and Benton’s line of work, especially Benton’s as a con man, sex is often a major part of the job. Avia does her fair share of conning, too, of course.
All in all, AVIA I is a solid 4-star debut novel. It has realistic, likeable main characters and an unpredictable ending. All you need to know is that we will be seeing Avia, Benton, and many other of the characters in this book again in AVIA II. I highly recommend this book for anyone who’s tired of the formulaic heist thrillers and is looking for something more original to read.
Bullets & Betrayal!
In “AVIA II: Bullets & Betrayal,” we meet Avia and Benton soon after the events of AVIA I. But, this book is a lot more complex than the first AVIA novel. It involves three different plotlines and switches between being an organized crime family thriller, a more traditional thriller, and a police procedural. This book features not only Avia and Benton, but also a rival organized crime family in the Sanchez, and Detective Greg Locke.
Locke is on a mission to put away both Avia and Benton. After a heist gone bad, Avia and Benton have narrowly escaped jail time. But, they are very much stuck in their life of crime and don’t have any intention of getting out of it. So, will Avia and Benton make it to their Hawaii vacation, or will they end up in jail?
We also meet the leader and the pilot of the Sanchez organized crime family. The war is on between the Company that Avia and Benton belong to and the Sanchez. The Sanchez was introduced briefly in AVIA I, but now we learn the ins and outs in their rivalry with the Company.
Also, we learn more about the workings of the inner workings of the Company. Without giving too much away, it’s clear that both Locke and the Sanchez are working hard to take down the Company. They are clearly for different reasons, but they are both taking steps, some more extreme than others, to get the job done.
Even more action-packed than AVIA I with even more twists and turns than the first book in the series, “AVIA II: Bullets & Betrayal” is a long, much more involved book that develops both the main characters, Avia and Benton, and others that were only glanced over in AVIA I. Like AVIA I, this is not an erotic romance brand of thriller, but it does contain many sex scenes - all of which make sense in character development and moving the plot forward. Just be forewarned if you are sensitive to lots of adult content.
Also, I will warn you that AVIA II has a cliffhanger ending that will have you biting your nails to the nub in anticipation for AVIA III. This book really keeps you on the edge of your chair right up until the end and slams you with dire circumstances that won’t be resolved until the next book. “Bullets and Betrayal” is a 5-star thriller in the eyes of this reviewer.
If either of these books sound like your speed, I invite you to check AVIA I and AVIA II out on Amazon! If you like them, please leave an honest review. The author greatly appreciates it!
** I received review copies of these ebooks in exchange for fair and honest reviews.
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