Rating: 5 stars
Jake Anders is hearing voices, one voice to be exact. Jake hears the voice of Trace Michelson, his mentor, and the one man he has been attracted to for years. The problem is that the real Trace Michelson is dead, killed six years ago when Trace was assassinated by people and agencies unknown. The voice Jakes hears is that of the Sim implant in his brain that carries part of Trace in it. Trace Michelson recruited Jake when he was in college for The Trust, a CIA-backed agency whose “executives” eliminate rogue biotechnology operations.
Jake was in awe of Trace, a brilliant mind houses in a powerful, gorgeous body. If Trace ever knew of Jake’s long time infatuation, he never let on. Before he was killed, Trace designed the Sim chip implanted in Jake’s brain.The chip contains his memories and experiences. It’s supposed to be just data, designed to augment Jake’s knowledge. But the Sim seems so real, like talking to Trace in person so Jake wonders if Trace is still alive or if Jake really is going crazy like everyone claims. Then the Sim tells him to trust no one. And Jake decides to learn the truth about Trace and the Sim, no matter the cost, no matter where the end of the journey will find him, dead or alive. Jake will give his all to keep The Trust.
What a wild, crazy elaborate ride this book turned out to be. From the first, you enter a maze of misinformation and treachery, and like Alice, you must commit to jumping down the hole in order to reach the truth and find the satisfactory ending that is hidden behind closed doors. When we first meet Jake, he has been ambushed by a traitor. As Jake bleeds out, he throws a knife to take out his assassin and then hearing his Sim’s voice telling him to meditate, passes out. He awakes healed in a hospital bed, being touted as a superman for killing the traitor and healing himself. And from there we are off on a exciting romp from there that makes Mr. Toad’s wild ride look practically sedate. Our authors handle the past/present juggling act beautifully so we are fed only tidbits of information about the past histories of the people involved. This keeps us guessing as to who the bad guys really are as well as their motives behind the actions. And while we are certain of the identity of the main villian early on, the identities of the people who are under their control is always in question. Is it the best friend? Is it the sister or the doctor? Each reality keeps folding back on each other to keep the reader wonderfully confused right up to the end and the final denouement.
I love the character of Jake Anders right down to his long flaming red hair. Jake is such a distinctive persona, brilliant, seemingly removed from those around him, a true scientist at heart. Jake became work obsessed when he lost the most important man in his life, Trace Michelson. Jake has so many layers to him, he is as complicated and as elaborate as the conspiracy he must unravel. So Jake’s character must unfold to the reader through his inner voice and his memories as he runs the maze set before him and solves the puzzles his Sim/Trace have left behind. It doesn’t help that Jake is not sure himself what is real and what is imagined. We are as confused and uncertain as he is. That the reader is kept in the dark with Jake works to the stories advantage as we have to go down every blind alley and take every risk along with him.
Sometimes the action is fast paced, at other times the action is calculatingly slow like a chess move that will set off repercussions many moves later. I appreciated the change up in pace as it kept me guessing as to the hidden meanings behind each scene. There is a romantic element to The Trust but if that is all you are seeking in a novel, then perhaps this is not the story for you. It is there as thin threads that runs the length of the story. I really enjoyed the way Anthony and Keyes handled the romantic part of this story, that of Jake’s hidden love for Trace, a man we only get to see from Jake’s perspective. In Jake’s eyes, Trace is larger than life, his mentor, his hero, and the only man he is capable of loving. So when Jake is not sure whether the voice he is hearing is the Sim or somehow Trace himself and Jake wonders if he is sane, the reader is right there with him, hoping upon hope that somehow it is Trace himself. I can’t say more because that enters into spoiler territory but I loved the ending and so will you.
So even if mental mazes and action adventure may not be your thing, take a chance. Pick this up, stay with it through all the double crosses and ever-changing realities, it is worth it. You will love it. Trust me!
Cover: Wonderful cover by Catt Ford. Eye catching and speaks to the book within. Great job.
Reviewers Note: Shira Anthony’s Blue Notes, a contemporary romance, is a favorite of mine. See my review of Blue Notes here.