Book Review: Reviving Izabel by J.A. Redmerski (Cast + Playlist!)

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DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNLESS YOU'VE FINISHED KILLING SARAI
THIS IS FOR BOOK #2 OF THE SERIES, IN THE COMPANY OF KILLERS
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| +Goodreads
Determined to live a dark life in the company of the assassin who freed her from bondage, Sarai sets out on her own to settle a score with an evil sadist. Unskilled and untrained in the art of killing, the events that unfold leave her hanging precariously on the edge of death when nothing goes as planned.

Sarai’s reckless choices send her on a path she knows she can never turn back from and so she presents Victor with an ultimatum: help her become more like him and give her a fighting chance, or she’ll do it alone no matter the consequences. Knowing that Sarai cannot become what she wants to be overnight, Victor begins to train her and inevitably their complicated relationship heats up.

As Arthur Hamburg’s right-hand man, Willem Stephens, closes in on his crusade to destroy Sarai, she is left with the crushing realization that she may have bitten off more than she can chew. But Sarai, taking on the new and improved role of Izabel Seyfried, still has a set of deadly skills of her own that will prove to be all she needs to secure her place beside Victor.

But there is one test that Izabel must face that has the potential to destroy everything she is working so hard to achieve. One final test that will not only make her question her decision to want this dangerous life, but will make her question everything she has come to trust about Victor Faust.

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5 STARS 

Picking up a few months after Killing Sarai ended, this book begins with a distracted, unsatisfied Sarai. She's free to live a new and "normal" life, but everything feels so uncomfortable and unfamiliar. What happened to her in book one was too much to simply just leave behind, and you feel that right along with her. You don't want "normal" either!
 
When she devised a plan to take out Arthur Hamburg all by herself, though, my reader-instincts were kicking in like crazy, throwing up red flags! It was like that sharp breath before you plunge underwater...You hope for the best, but things could end really badly. Sarai actually made me face-palm, wring my hands, and straight up squirm in my seat, a few times throughout the novel! This is where the roller coaster starts. Sarai may technically be a killer, but she still lacks the finesse and experience that a trained assasin comes with. 
Every part of me is screaming, telling me how stupid it was for me to come here, and as much as I know that to be true, I don't care. It's not fear making me tremble underneath my skin, it's adrenaline.
But that's what Victor Faust is for, right? The ruthless, efficient assassin that Sarai (and I) can't resist, can't forget...I literally squeaked when he made his reappearance. (That elevator scene has to make every list in existence for Top Angry Kisses. Has to.) While I had to wait patiently for my Romance Reward in book one, I didn't have to wait long at all this time around! Their romance is just...different.

Their moments together aren't what you'd call typical sweet or blissful. But they're effective. Your stomach will flip, your breath will catch, and a smirk might find its way to the corner of your lips. I was definitely amused by the new flirtatious side to their banter. Death threats and hit offers...I had no idea those things could be affectionate gestures. Yet, I swooned! Victor can be very sexy when he wants to be. And there were plenty of slow-motion reads to savor. 
I feel her lips touch mine. The smell of her skin sends me into a brief high. I suck a breath deep into my lungs and reach up, cupping her face firmly in my hands as she turns around on my lap, straddling me. "You're going to be the death of me," I whisper onto her lips before slipping my tongue into her mouth.
Although we readers have to remember that this is not a new adult/romance series, it's worth it to note that the romance is heavily entwined with the growth of these two main characters. In the first book, Sarai "unlocked" Victor. She showed him that he was capable of emotion, but she was also a final...push...that he needed. In this next installment, exploring Victor's character outside of the Order, watching that shift unfold, is so intriguing!
"She was...the trigger. The spark in a room full of gas. But I was ruined long before I met her."
Similarly, Victor showed Sarai what she could do with her life and her unique set of skills, and who she could use them against. He unlocked her, as well. She found her own agenda and her own demons to fight. In a crazy twisted way, I loved what they brought out in each other. Just when I was ready to shake Sarai for being stubborn and foolish, she reminded me how well-versed she is in the art of deception and manipulation, a "clever little wolf" as Victor called her. And as soon as I started to wonder if Victor might lose his touch, he reminded me that he is still very much a step ahead of everyone else. The new dynamic to their relationship--Victor training Sarai and bringing her into his lifestyle--made this story just as addictive as the first book, with eyes darting across the pages as quickly as my heart was racing! I couldn't wait to see where these two would go and what they'd have to do next!
She can make a man believe anything she wants with very little effort. And she doesn't fear death. But she's better than an actress. Because one never knows that it's an act until it's too late... 
They are what will make us a perfect pair.
Other aspects that I loved in book one were definitely present in this sequel. The details turned my mind into movie sets, and I could picture every thing and every place. Those mental "clicks" that satisfied me so much in the first book, when loose ends suddenly came together? They were in there too! In between all of those proverbial lightbulbs, though, I was also still on edge most of the time! Insert cringe-worthy, gut-sinking torture scene here. Through the twists and the turns and the flashbacks, the plot was just as riveting as ever.

Then, there was Fredrik Gustavsson, a familiar character from book one, but we get to go deeper with him this time around. Attractive and charming, he can make you smile slyly and make your cheeks blush, but it was all of that combined with his darker sinister side that drew me in and gave me that spine-tingling chill. He gave the story an extra oomph and was quite frankly my favorite addition. Trust me, his connection with Sarai is interesting...
An incredibly sexy grin appears and Fredrik casually steps away from me. The flooding light...casts a strangely fitting aura around his body making him look like a madman in the Devil's suit, standing against a grisly backdrop.
So, how does it all end? In true mind-blowing, jaw-dropping fashion, of course. There was a revelation I didn't see coming, and there was a transformation that I had been eagerly anticipating. The last couple of chapters were the best kind of roller coaster ride! As in...Whoops, did I just highlight an entire page because I love this scene so hard?

Reviving Izabel is absolutely deserving of all 5 shiny stars...and about 10x more! Again, J.A. Redmerski managed to keep me fixated on Victor and Sarai's story from the second I opened the book to the moment I read the last words. Whether it's "traditional" romance or not, I adore any book that can put me through the wringer and pull me out on the other side completely mesmerized, and the In the Company of Killers series has that "it-factor" for me!   


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PURCHASE


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THE CAST

I thought it'd be fun to share my own "dream" cast for this series!

| SARAI COHEN / IZABEL SEYFRIED |

23-year-old Sarai was described as having green eyes and long auburn hair, and the more I read, the more Lyndsy Fonseca became Sarai in my head. Inspired by her character on the tv show Nikita, I chose her because I believe she can portray young and vulnerable Sarai and then morph into the more seductive and dangerous Izabel. She can look beautiful, tortured, defiant...This scene in particular inspired my choice:


 
| JAVIER RUIZ |
 
Edgar Ramirez was Javier for me. I've seen him in movies like Carlos and Domino, so I was already convinced that he could play the leader of an organization and a sick criminal.
 
 
| IZEL RUIZ |

 
Izel had a cruel attitude and was abusive in every sense of the word...sexually, verbally, physically. Roselyn Sanchez looks like she could pull off the "sultry/crazy bitch" role.
 

| VICTOR FAUST |

 
 
Aaah, yes. The assassin. Victor is much older than Sarai, with green-blue eyes and a defined-yet-lean body. I actually cheated a little with this one...I went on Redmerski's website and saw who she had picked to play Victor! The character was molded "almost entirely from actor Michael Fassbender" and really...it's perfect. Fassbender looks like he can carry the experience and refined skills that Victor is supposed to have, and the man looks damn good in a suit!
 

| NIKLAS FLEISCHER |


The way Niklas referred to Victor as "brother", and the sense that his character couldn't be fully trusted at times, made me think of Tom Hiddleston as Loki! It just so happens that Hiddleston and Fassbender could totally pass off as half-brothers! Hiddleston could portray the smooth, calculating liaison for the Order, but he could also show the more erratic emotions that Niklas has...anger, lack of discipline, jealousy.
 

| FREDRIK GUSTAVSSON |

 
Dark wavy hair...piercing blue eyes...a suit and devilish grin as his signature look? Fredrik's character deserves an equally captivating actor to play him, and Henry Cavill is that man. I'm thinking of the many scenes from The Tudors when Henry dished out the sass in spades...the wit, the wicked glint in his eyes, the smirk. I also think Henry has that look that could switch from casual/charming to deadly serious in the blink of an eye.

(Fredrik's book, THE SWAN AND THE JACKAL, is available NOW!)
 
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THE PLAYLIST

Music can set the whole tone for a movie. Afterall, what would this film be without a killer soundtrack? (Pun intended...) I also find that music is one of the best cures for a book hangover. When I can't get a book out of my head, like the ones from In the Company of Killers, playlists are always a great outlet!

Track 01. Kari Kimmel - Black
Track 02. Kendra Morris - Banshee
Track 03. Nico Vega - Bang, Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
Track 04. Lana Del Rey - Dark Paradise
Track 05. Domino and The Dagger Baileys - Am I Really That Bad
Track 06. Selah Sue - This World
Track 07. Aloe Blacc - Ticking Bomb
Track 08. Sam Smith - Safe With Me
Track 09. The Heavy - Short Changed Hero
Track 10. Laura Marling - Master Hunter