Sep 1 2017 12:00pm

Kit Rocha’s Deacon: An HEA for the Lone Female in Gideon’s Riders

Deacon by Kit Rocha

Deacon is the second book in Kit Rocha’s ongoing dystopian erotic romance series, Gideon’s Riders, the follow-up to the enormously popular Beyond series.

Gideon’s Riders are the infamous group of holy warriors who protect the people of Sector One, a sector that reveres their leader, Gideon, and his extensive family as living deities. Gideon created the Riders as his personal bodyguard and they’ve evolved to be the sector’s foremost defensive unit. But the cost of this faith-driven society is that those who take lives can’t expect to be accepted into paradise, no matter if that killing was done for the greater good. The Riders thus serve as spiritual sacrifices for their people: they kill so the others don’t have to and knowingly give up salvation to do it.

Each Rider is tattooed with a raven to mark every time they’ve killed, an honor badge of their sacrifice. Being spiritually unredeemable, they are sequestered in their own community, living as a brotherhood, and personal relationships and family while not expressly forbidden, are not customary given the family would ultimately someday suffer the loss of their Rider spouse and/or father in battle.

But those customs are changing, subtly maneuvered by none other than Gideon himself. In the first book of the series, Ashwin, we saw a super soldier find a family within the brotherhood—and finally claim his mate, Kora, who had become an adopted sister of Gideon himself. Having put several of them back together in her role as an empathetic doctor, Kora knows the risks of being tied to a Rider long-term, and Gideon accepts that given the choice, Ashwin would choose Kora over Sector One’s holy leader—which would be Gideon’s preference anyway. The old customs about keeping the Riders separate from their families, keeping them from making families, are being tested and stretched…for the good.

I couldn’t help but think of all the women who were first in their fields…

Now, with Deacon, what a Rider’s life may or may not encompass is getting further shaken up…from the inside out.

Ana is the first and only woman to become one of Gideon’s Riders. Her father, who died in the recent war against Eden, was one of the original men chosen for this elite group of warriors. From an early age, he trained Ana to follow in his footsteps regardless of her gender. But Ana keenly feels the weight of this legacy. Every moment, every mission, she knows all eyes are on her, waiting for her to prove making her a Rider was mistake. She feels the nonstop pressure of having to prove she didn’t sleep her way into the ranks, either with Gideon or with the Rider’s leader, Deacon, another founding Rider like her father.

Ana agonizes over the ramifications of her position in the Riders, which to her are in direct conflict with her growing feelings for Deacon. For the Riders, no one person supersedes the mission, but as her connection to Deacon deepens, Ana worries if she’ll be able to make the hard decisions if Deacon’s life is in the balance. And if she makes the wrong choice, it’s not just Ana who’ll suffer, but every other girl who looks at the Riders and thinks “I want to be that.” If Ana fails, if she justifies the whispers and rumors about how and why she became a Rider by making an emotional decision over a tactical one, she’s certain no other woman will ever again be allowed to join.

As the living heroes of Sector One, the Riders are honored and revered. But Ana is the first woman Rider the girls of Sector One have had to look up to and emulate, and she keenly feels that burden of responsibility. She feels as though her every move, every choice, every decision is watched by everyone, waiting for her to prove she isn’t up to the job. As she gives into her feelings for Deacon, Ana must decide whether to be a Rider or a woman, if that’s a choice she even has to make, and how best to lead as both—and whether one ever has to cancel out the other.

For a novel set in a dystopian future, Ana’s conflict strikes all too close to home for women in the 21st century. I couldn’t help but think of all the women who were first in their fields, first in a corner office, first CEO, first in medical school or law school, first Congresswoman or Senator—first major candidate for President of the United States—who must have felt these exact same pressures, this exact same burden. We all know that in our society, women have to better, smarter, and more successful to “justify” having their positions or accolades. We know that if one female superhero movie fails, they’ll never be another (never mind the many failures of male superhero films) the excuse being that women-led projects don’t succeed. One and done. This is Ana’s fear in Deacon, and it keeps her from fully exploring the life she’s fought to have. It keeps her from seeing how gender-blind her fellow Riders actually are, not because she’s not a woman to them, but because she’s a Rider and that’s all they need.

SEE ALSO: The 5 Reasons You Should Always Read Kit Rocha

As one of the original Riders (along with Gideon and Ana’s father), Deacon knows he’s living on borrowed time. He’s the oldest surviving Rider and the law of averages tells him that day when his portrait joins the wall of heroes is coming soon. So when his past comes knocking with homicidal intentions, when the Riders themselves are the target, Deacon recognizes his time has come.

When their adversary’s identity becomes known, Deacon has to come clean with what originally brought him to Sector One and who he was before Gideon made him a Rider. He knows this will affect everyone’s perception of him—and Ana most of all. He also knows he can’t lead the Riders with such uncertainty in the ranks, so he surrenders his leadership so as not to further compromise their safety.

But deep down, Deacon knows success will only come with his sacrificial death, and it’s this knowledge that keeps him from pursuing Ana, the seemingly perfect woman for him. She already knows what it’s like to lose a father to the Riders; to subject her to that same loss again as her lover is not something Deacon is prepared to do.

Deacon further expands this Sector One world and the intricacies that make up the Riders by pulling apart what has long been customary and questioning all of it. As usual, Rocha’s world-building is detailed and complex. This book sports high-octane action and the combat scenes are intricate without being too much too follow. A few favorites from the other Sectors drop by for cameos and couples are teased for upcoming books the series.

While on the lighter side for sexual acrobatics (not a single orgy?! The hell you say!), there’s no lack of the signature Rocha emotional physicality. Deacon is about two people taking dramatic stock of their roles in the Riders and the limitations those roles have so far placed on them being able to live fulfilling lives. It’s about how to make and live with combat decisions that risk a loved one and may require putting the greater good about the needs of their hearts—and whether to trust that what makes them who they are, Rider or not, will make the right choice. 


Learn more about or order a copy of Deacon by Kit Rocha, available now:

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Writer, singer, editor, traveler, tequila drinker, and cat herder, Kiersten Hallie Krum avoids pen names since keeping her multiple personalities straight is hard enough work. She writes smart, sharp, and sexy romantic suspense. Her debut romantic suspense novel, WILD ON THE ROCKS, is now available. Visit her website at and find her regularly over sharing on various social media via @kierstenkrum.

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1 comment
Jennifer Proffitt
1. JenniferProffitt
I read this over the long weekend and absolutely loved it! Still just as hot as previous Kit Rocha but in a different way. I'm in love!
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