Author: Eden Winters
Publisher: Amber Allure
Pages: Novel (73,000 words)
Characters: Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter, Bo Schollenberger
POV: 3rd Person
Sub-Genre: Contemporary Romance
Drug dealers aren’t always on the streets; sometimes they sit in offices and board rooms, selling merchandise in official looking bottles instead of little cellophane bags.
When given a choice between eight more years in prison or using his “expertise” to assist the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau’s Department of Diversion Prevention and Control, convicted drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter takes the sentence with the illusion of freedom. Cynical and unwilling to admit he’s begun to care about his job, he counts the days until his debt is paid. His sole obstacle to getting his life back is the rookie he’s assigned to train before he leaves; a rookie who quotes pharmacy texts, hasn’t paid his dues, and has the obnoxious tendency of seeing the good in everyone – including the target of their investigation.
Former Marine Bo Schollenberger dreamed of becoming a pharmacist and watched the dream turn into a nightmare of PTSD-fueled prescription drug abuse. Battling his demons daily, he wakes up every morning, wondering, “Will this be the day I give in?” To keep his license, he must now put his skills to use for a diversion control task force, deal with a crude partner with too much attitude and no brain-to-mouth filter, and take down a drug lord who reminds him of his favorite cooking show hostess.
The bad guys don’t stand a chance — if Lucky and Bo don’t strangle each other first…
Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter seems a bit like a commodity in the business of life and if nothing else, he’s enterprising. Lucky understands exactly what opportunity cost means and bases his choices accordingly, learning some very painful lessons for it along the way.
Lucky traded his soul, the first time to a man who saw something in Lucky that would serve both their interests; the second time when Lucky mistakenly betrayed that man; the third time to a system that saw something in Lucky that would, well, serve both their interests. And the final time—that was the time that left Lucky more than a little bit broken because that was the time it meant something more to him than what it cost him to do it.
The funny thing about choosing to trade your soul is that you can do it for purely selfish reasons—who wouldn’t seize the opportunity for a get-out-of-jail-free card when it’s offered—but in the end? Yeah, in the end that trade off begins to feel nothing like selfish and a whole lot like redemption because, in the end, you discover that what you thought was broken in you maybe was only a hairline fracture, what you tried to keep hidden behind the attitude and the prickly exterior was merely the soft underbelly of guilt and hurt and a little bit of fear; you discover you think you’ve had it bad, until someone comes along who’s had it worse. And you see that someone still manages to try to trust and find the good in life and in people, though some people do their best to make it more of an effort.
That someone for Lucky is Bo Schollenberger, and he’s supposed to be Lucky’s replacement in the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau’s Department of Diversion Prevention and Control; instead, he simply becomes Lucky’s reason—for pretty much everything. Lucky is Rich, Rich is Lucky; he just didn’t realize how lucky or rich he truly was until he found someone to value, including himself.
Lucky Lucklighter isn’t an easy man to know. He judges and makes assumptions based on nothing more than the fact he doesn’t like or trust anyone. He’s not easy to like, but he is pretty easy to love if you can dodge the barbs he uses to cut, and the lemon juice he pours on the wounds just to remind you you’ve been flayed. That tongue is sharp and he’s not afraid to cut to the quick with it, over and over again. That’s part of the fun for him, to lay his adversaries low, but he discovers it’s also just as much fun to have someone to trade barbs with, a worthy adversary who soon becomes ally.
Diversion snuck up on me, which, given its title, (and its author) is something I probably should’ve anticipated a bit more. Like Lucky, Eden Winters isn’t afraid to go for the emotional jugular, and she seems to nick mine pretty much every time. This became a story not about how much Lucky was willing to take but about how much he was willing to give. For a convicted criminal that’s the ultimate redemption.
Reviewed By: Lisa