Book Review: I Am Justice by Diana Muñoz Stewart
There's just so much going on here I'm not sure where to start. Justice, the heroine of the title, is one member of a team of women fighting to right wrongs against women everywhere. All of them were ‘recruited’ after being rescued from abuse as children and adopted by their foundation's wealthy owner.
Chasing down a pair of human traffickers who killed her biological sister, Justice has to partner up with Sandesh, a former soldier now running a humanitarian mission helping rescue ISIS brides in Jordan. From the refugee camps of Jordan to the exclusive campus of the foundation to the violent druglord-controlled territories of Mexico, the two have to learn to trust and work together even while hunting down a traitor.
Justice is a very contradictory character. Though we are told she is Choctaw Indian, she neither acknowledges her heritage in any traditional ways nor experiences any racism aimed at herself. The closest she gets to even ‘seeming' non-white to me is when she tells one of her white team-mates to check her privilege. Frankly, she could have been a white girl with dark hair and eyes, and claiming her as Choctaw feels like a poor attempt to get racial inclusivity points.
Similarly, I have absolutely no idea why Sandesh had a name of subcontinental origin. He's described as being white and blond-haired. The origin of his name was never once mentioned or questioned, which seemed odd. I'd have asked.
I think the author has fallen into the trap of too much telling and not enough showing. We are told at the beginning that Justice doesn't like any man except her family but she has sexual chemistry with Sandesh and starts propositioning him straight away. She tells him they can never do more than casual sex, which he accepts, but is it really a surprise that by the end of the book there had been a marriage proposal?
For the first book in a series, there are too many characters, too much backstory and just way too much going on. The main villain was nothing more than a caricature even when we entered his PoV, with vague motivations and unclear objectives.
There is a lot of violence in this book for one classified as a romance, a lot of dark stuff including childhood and sexual abuse. Trauma is one thing dealt with properly, including PTSD, though the fact that absolutely nobody was getting any sort of therapy seemed unrealistic and impractical too.
At the end of the day, this is confused, conflicting and unrealistic. I couldn’t get into it at all, Justice seemed too good to be true, and though I quite liked Sandesh I never felt we really got to know him. I can’t give it more than two stars.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.