Book InfoThe Payback by Mila Sin, Manuela Rouget
Series: The Cleanup #2
Rating: Book ratings explained
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Purchase at: Amazon | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU
The mission was straightforward, or so I thought.
To dismantle the powerful New York chapter of the Bratva, I embark on a daring undercover operation—posing as Dimitri Aslanov's unassuming new bride. The objective: gather irrefutable evidence and extract myself unscathed. It seemed like a walk in the park.
But everything changes when I uncover the truth—the surly bodyguard shadowing Dimitri is none other than Nik, my former partner and the father of my child. Consumed by a burning desire for revenge against his betrayal, I find myself entangled in a dangerous game of deceit, where the lines between loyalty and passion blur.
With a bitter grudge festering between the two men, our fragile bond threatens to shatter, leaving behind a trail of broken promises and shattered souls.
In this scorching menage romance, passions ignite, boundaries are shattered, and nothing is as it seems. Brace yourself for a pulse-pounding journey of discovery, where love, redemption, and survival hang in the balance.
The Payback - My Review
Having loved the other two books in The Cleanup series I was looking forward to getting dragged back into Olivia and Ellie’s world for The Payback. Technically you can read this book as a standalone, but it’s richer for reading the other books in the series. It’s much more fun when you understand Ellie’s friendship with Olivia, the things she went through with Nik, and how all the different characters interacted in the past. Oh, and Olivia’s a badass and you don’t want to miss out on all of that by not reading the previous two books. Trust me.
Ellie is an Interpol agent. Her ex-partner, Nik, stole a diamond containing classified data and delivered it straight into the hands of the leader of the Bratva. In The Cleanup her best friend, Olivia, stole the diamond back and returned it to its rightful place. Ellie’s latest mission is to bring in a Bratva asset, working with him to gather information on the New York chapter and to bring it down in the process. Small catch: to complete the mission she needs to marry the childhood best friend of said former partner (and her baby daddy), and live with the two of them, while none of them really know the whole truth about what’s going on and who knows what, if anything. If you think it sounds like a recipe for sexual tension and explosive moments, you’d be right.
With a title like The Payback, I’d expected this book to be very revenge-driven. I was surprised that this wasn’t the case beyond the first few chapters; the story took more of a view towards acceptance and forgiveness. I wasn’t mad at this; as a character, Ellie comes across as much less vengeful and reactive than Olivia. She looks for redeeming qualities in Nik, unable to let the spark between them go, which fits well. Both Nik and Bratva boss Dimitri are dominant and possessive characters; Ellie’s soft strength balances against them perfectly.
This was a book that was less action and more revelation. With Ellie’s mission being intel gathering, there was a lot of watching and waiting in store for her. A lot of the drivers in this story are subtle and based on emotional factors. Some people might think that this makes for a slow read, but I love those deep dives into characters and their motivations, guessing at potential reactions and watching how a dynamic forms. You have to trust the process because all of the action happens towards the end of the book and it’s well worth the wait.
Like its predecessors, the Payback is steamy. In fact, there are more than a few moments where it’s pure, kinky filth and I loved it. Ellie is a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it; definitely a must when up against the two headstrong and dominant MMCs.
The epilogue sets the scene perfectly for a continuation of Ellie and Olivia’s stories (and I really hope that is a promise for it in the Afterword). It will be great to see the characters as the continue to grow beyond the confines of their original tales, and to see the two of them work together properly again.