The first two books in The Escape Series by Rachel Rust. Excerpt from Or The Girl Dies, see the August edition of Uncaged Book Reviews for an interview with the author.
Or the Girl Dies
One school project. One kidnapping. One night they won’t forget.
Natalie is an honors student with perfect grades. Victor is a drug dealer with a cryptic past. When a school assignment forces them to work together, things quickly spiral out of control.
Victor fails to complete his part of their project, so Natalie hunts him down the night before it’s due. But Victor’s kingpin boss interrupts their study date and drags Natalie down into a seedy underworld where anything can be bought and sold—including her.
Over the course of one night—while dodging bad guys and trying not to inhale—Natalie discovers shocking truths about Victor. And she’ll need to choose between preserving her perfect academic future and helping him escape his troubled past.
Except one final revelation about Victor may be too much for Natalie to survive.
Victor’s eyes had fixated on the rearview mirror. He downshifted, slowed down, and wedged himself into the next lane of traffic.
“We’re being followed.” His gaze held steady, watching behind us in the mirror. I made a slight movement to look over my shoulder. “Don’t look,” he said. “Stay facing forward.” He shifted gears. “Got your seatbelt on?”
“Yes.” My skin prickled under the weight of unseen eyes and a cold rush of blood coursed through my veins. Terror was outdone only by the pounding of my heart in my ears.
Victor hit the brakes and we fishtailed off the street and into a narrow alley, jamming my shoulder into the car door. The alley was barely wide enough for one car with a row of garbage cans sitting outside of dingy, rusted back doors to various businesses. My eyes squinted half-closed as though that would protect us from other cars or people or flying bullets. I had watched enough TV to know that fleeing down an alley didn’t always produce desired results.
Victor slowed down at the end of the lane, then turned right into a grocery store parking lot. He weaved in and out of the aisles, and then backed into a parking space with a view of the alley. We sat there in silence with the car in first gear and Victor’s body visibly tensed for a solid couple of minutes before I developed the nerve to speak.
“Who is following us?” I asked. “Was it the guy in the white car that was at your house?”
Victor’s phone buzzed. He stared at the screen, jaw clenched, then scanned me head to toe. “Where do you live? We gotta go to your house.”
“Because you need different clothes.”
I sucked in a quick breath. “What’s wrong with my clothes?” Getting fashion shamed by my friends was one thing. Being criticized by a guy whose t-shirt looked like it hadn’t seen the inside of a washing machine in years was a whole other level of rude.
“Nothing’s wrong with your clothes, but you can’t wear that.”
I glanced down at my jeans and sneakers. “Everyone wears jeans.”
“Not where we’re going tonight.”
“Oh no,” I said with a laugh. “I’m not going anywhere with you tonight. Especially not if you have scary people following you.” Maybe I had been hell-bent on making him help me with our school assignment before, but being encountered by a mysterious man in black and then chased down an alley had knocked my determination down a few notches, and increased my self-preservation. Maybe I could convince Victor to come to my house and work on our project there, and then once we were finished he could go off on his demented adventures with whatever crazy people he called friends.
“You have to come with me,” he said. “You have no choice.”
“The hell I don’t, I’m not —”
Victor shoved his phone in front of my face. A text message stared back.
Go chat with LB and bring the brunette. Dress her nice.
“The brunette,” I said, my voice barely a whisper. “Me?”
His silence confirmed it.
Uncaged Review: High school, only ten days left until graduation, and the teacher pulls a partner assignment, and Natalie gets stuck with the biggest loser in the class, Victor – who seems to sleep the whole way through the class. Rumor is he’s a major drug dealer and a complete jerk – but if she doesn’t ace this assignment, her GPA will falter and her scholarship to college could be lost. This book spans over a 24 hr period and when her teacher and her father tell her she needs to figure out how to work with her partner, she sets her mind to make sure the assignment gets done.
This is the night from hell, and the twists and turns this novel takes will have your head spinning. Natalie gets more than a high school senior could bargain for, and we are left on a roller coaster of danger and intrigue, and even though you are on the edge of your seat, there is a bit of humor to break up the tension. Natalie is thrust into a world she could never had imagined and all she wanted to do was keep her 4.0 GPA. Great fun. Reviewed by Cyrene
The Watched Girl
Where do you run when there’s nowhere to hide?
After barely surviving a dangerous school project, Natalie Mancini is relieved to have her normal life back. Until she’s terrorized by a vengeful associate of the drug trafficker she helped arrest.
Along with Eddie and the FBI, Natalie fights to save herself from an opponent more powerful than the last. But outrunning the watchful eyes of her new enemy may prove impossible.
Natalie and Eddie grow close as they struggle to escape danger once again. And details begin to surface about why they were put together for their school assignment. Was their pairing more than just coincidence?
Uncaged Review: This book picks up soon after the events in book one, and it starts out with a major bang. You are thrust into the action within the first few chapters, and Natalie is back into the thick of it. If you thought the first book was fast paced, this one does it justice. The sophomore slump is nowhere to be seen. Natalie is kidnapped in broad daylight, and Eddie is MIA. Smacked around, and taped up, she’s too be sold to a human trafficker – whose lost a lot of money from Natalie and Eddie’s interference in book one. But the bad guys aren’t the only ones that have been watching Natalie, the FBI has been keeping tabs on her also.
If you like a fast paced storyline that keeps you on the edge of your seat and turning the pages – this set is highly recommended. The intrigue, the betrayals, and even the romance get a jumpstart in this one. As good or better than Or the Girl Dies, all I can say to Ms. Rust, is write faster please.
Reviewed by Cyrene