Book Review: Rules of Survival by Jus Accardo


If you want to survive, you have to follow the rules…

Mikayla Morgan is wanted for her mother's murder. She's been on the run for almost a year now, avoiding not only the police but the real killer. Tired of running and desperate to clear her name, she breaks one of the most sacred rules: never return to the scene of the crime.

Every bounty hunter on the Eastern Seaboard is after the Morgan girl—but Shaun Denver and his partner snagged her. She's a piece of work, and Shaun can't decide if he wants to kiss her or kill her. When things take a sharp turn south, Shaun does the only thing he can think of to keep her close—he handcuffs them together.

As the danger mounts and the killer closes in, the chemistry between them threatens to explode. Shaun and Kayla will need to break all the rules if they hope to get out of this alive.

As we know from the book's description, Mikayla "Kayla" Morgan is the only suspect in the investigation of her mother's murder, so she's been evading arrest...or worse...for as long as she possibly can. She already had experience with life on the run, though--even before her mom was killed--and that kind of lifestyle has taken its toll on Kayla. As a result, she decides to return to the scene of the crime and finally find some answers...Who was really after her mother, the notorious con-artist Melissa Morgan? And why were they really on the run for so long?
"I've been running for a year now by myself. I'm tired and I'm getting sloppy. I needed to find a way to end this before it ended me..."
Of course, the search for answers wasn't about to be an easy one. A couple of bounty hunters were keeping tabs on the place and interrupt Kayla. This is where we're introduced to Patrick, the bounty hunter that's been after Kayla and her mom for years, and his young protege Shaun. While Patrick is tending to the matter of reward money, he leaves Shaun in charge of their newly captured mark. However, a wrench is thrown into everybody's plans when unexpected company arrives. The two youngsters ultimately end up handcuffed together when Shaun refuses to let Kayla out of his sight, and this is when all the crazy fun begins.
Just because I couldn't see trouble didn't mean there wasn't any. I'd learned that ten times over the hard way.
Kayla is only 18 years old and her age certainly makes her vulnerable, but she's also a fighter and a quick thinker in her best moments. Clever. Instinct-driven. Fiery. Afterall, she's been completely on her own, surviving on the rules that her mother taught her.
I'd been forced to take things minute by minute. Less planning and more reacting. I liked it. I liked living in the moment. Needed it. There was a chance this would be the only freedom I would ever experience. 
I liked the journey she went on with Shaun. With their flirty banter and some of Shaun's smooth lines, I did love having Kayla and Shaun handcuffed together! ;) It made for some light, amusing moments amidst all of the trouble and danger they were in.
I kissed his cheek. "Thank you."
I'd caught him off guard--I could tell--but after a moment, he recovered, lips parting in a devastating grin. He brought his face to mine, stopping just shy of touching, and whispered, "Your aim is a little off. I think you meant to get me several inches to the right." 
I also started out with a certain opinion of Shaun, thinking I had him all figured out as this arrogant "I'm better than all of you criminals" jerk, but there was a lot more depth to his character. He revealed bits of his past and background to his father-son relationship with Patrick as the story progressed (...and tattoos *cough*). I enjoyed watching him and Kayla slowly open up and place trust in each other. I thought the scenes when their chemistry took over were written so well! They played up the raw attraction, curiosity, and thrill. Pre-tty stea-my.
"Say the word," he growled between kisses. "Say the word and I'll stop."
But I didn't want him to treat me gently. Not really. I wanted something real. Something raw. Bringing my free hand up, I tangled my fingers into his hair and pulled hard. He liked things on the rough side. That's what I'd give him. 
For me, though, the romance was actually the background story. (Even as good as it was!) Rules of Survival was just more about Kayla's quest for the truth and for closure. I enjoyed that suspense/action aspect of this book. There was a lot going on, but the fast pace was exciting, not overwhelming! Shaun began to help Kayla uncover her mom's history and who the real killer could be!
What else hadn't she told me? Mom had always been my rock. My true north. The doubt seeped in like poison and hurt almost worse than losing her.
Although, certain scenes made me question...Could these kids really get out of this mess? (She's 18. He's 20.) It drove me a little nuts when Kayla would get slightly careless or certain details would fly right over her head, considering all of these rules that she had and details that she caught in other high-pressure situations. There were even a couple of instances when her teenage-girl side would show, and I had to roll my eyes...But then, the next crazy thing would happen to distract me, and you know what? This book was still fun to read! There were plenty of twists and turns!
Bad choices. That's what had brought us here tonight.
Bad choices had nearly destroyed us all.  
The ending had a very satisfying "de-mystifying" feel to it. Even though some twists weren't exactly mind-blowing (just a tad predictable), I was still pleased with how everything unfolded. The pace felt right as those last pieces to the puzzle fell into place, and all of my big lingering questions were answered. It really wrapped up the last few years of Kayla's life and felt like her future was truly--at last--a fresh start.
"You don't know me."  
"Maybe not inside out, but I know you better than you think I do...I've seen you at your worst. Angry and bitter and mean. And I've seen you be brave and stand up against things that would tear most people down. I don't think you're worried about me not knowing you. I think what you're really worried about is you not knowing you."
This was a quick, easy, but exhilarating read, with an interesting premise and compelling characters. If you want action and suspense, mixed with just enough wit and sex appeal, Jus Accardo can give you all of that in Rules of Survival! Not too dark or shocking, it was an entertaining take on New Adult!

JUS ACCARDO spent her childhood reading and learning to cook. Determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps as a chef, she applied and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America. But at the last minute, she realized her true path lay with fiction, not food.

Jus is the bestselling author of the popular Denazen series from Entangled publishing, as well as the Darker Agency series, and the New Adult series, The Eternal Balance. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald.