Nov 16 2017 9:30am

First Look: Rachel Grant’s Catalyst (November 21, 2017)

Catalyst by Rachel Grant

Rachel Grant
Catalyst (Flashpoint #2)
Rachel Grant / November 21, 2017 / $5.99 digital

We’re back at Camp Citron in Djibouti with Rachel Grant’s latest installment of the Flashpoint series, Catalyst. Another hot setting, another hot story! Who knew archaeologists had such badass, exciting lives?

Knowing that Grant, herself, is a scientist explains so much about her characters and their adventures. It also explains a lot about her latest suspense. Scientifically speaking, catalysts are substances that cause or accelerate a chemical reaction without being affected itself. Catalysts are also things that cause activity between two or more people without being affected, or people who precipitate an event or change. In Catalyst, we meet American aid worker, Brie Stewart, whose colorful past and the life she’s now making for herself are the catalyst for a grand adventure.

“Friends call me Brie. You may call me Ms. Stewart.”

“Stewart? Not Prime?”

She shrugged. “I legally changed my last name to my mother’s maiden name.”

“Like Prime Petroleum changed to Prime Energy a dozen years ago? Obvious and unconvincing greenwashing.”

“I wasn’t greenwashing, I simply no longer wished to be associated with Prime Energy, and the decision to change my last name sent a clear message to Jeffrey Senior.”

Brie is an interesting character. Much of the hardship she faces in life she brought on herself. As the only daughter in her family, she was expected to join the oil business like her two brothers. She’s got a big education. A big life, full of glitz and glamour. She’s got the right smile and disposition to take the stage and gloss over the negative parts of the oil business and convince people all is well. Unlike her brothers, however, she always knew where her father placed her worth: on her beauty and her forced part of a bargained marriage to a Russian oligarch. That’s some heavy shit, right? So she drowns out the pressure of her life in booze and sex and heroin … until she woke up one day and realized she didn’t want to be Princess Prime anymore.

“I’m an aid worker. I’ve been helping South Sudanese people who’ve returned to their villages after being displaced by the civil war prepare for the rainy season, which, by all accounts, is going to suck elephant dicks this year.”

When Chief Warrant Officer Sebastian Ford sees Gabriella Prime at Camp Citron, he’s pissed. And rightly so, because when last he saw her, she was speaking on behalf of Prime Energy and the good it was going to bring to his ancestral land in Washington. Bastian faces his own demons in parting ways with his family, much like Brie. As a native American, he walks the line between tribal history and responsibility and serving his country as a special forces soldier. His mother favors the former, and his father is as proud of the latter.

“Ten years ago, I attended a community meeting for an oil pipeline proposal PE was ramming through the environmental impact process in eastern Washington. I sat in the front row as you defended PE’s plan to destroy an important Traditional Cultural Property to build a pipeline that would bisect the state from the Canadian border to the Columbia River. You had no respect for the sovereignty of tribes over the land. Your plan lacked even basic environmental protection for air and water, but you defended it because you didn’t give a fuck about air Indians breathe or water Indians drink.”

A month after their encounter, Brie’s USAID facility was attacked. Her male colleagues were beaten, but she managed to escape … only to be snatched and taken to the slave market. Fortunately, Camp Citron has a resident CIA analyst on post who already knew about the secret slave market (though she kept it to herself), so she’s able to get the Army and Navy special forces teams engaged. Once they pinpoint the market’s location, the soldiers move in, demolish the market and rescue Brie.

But bigger things are at play in South Sudan. Things that put Princess Prime smack in the middle of them.

South Sudan’s oil was spoken for—claimed by Chinese and British oil companies with American Prime Energy and Russian Druneft vying for the pipeline construction contract. Closing down the slave market wouldn’t help PE’s bid for the pipeline, so there was no strategic reason for the US military to get involved in a minor thing like child trafficking in South Sudan.

That Russian company with interest in the area? That’s Nikolai Drugov, owner of Druneft who wants to marry Brie—the oligarch who kept tabs on her for years and still intends to own her at any cost. Drugov has an unholy alliance with exiled General Lawiri, and her oldest brother, Jeffry Junior, and his sadistic intent has pulled an entire African nation into his traumatizing actions.

This is kind of a rough story, you know? One of Grant’s hallmarks, to me, is her perfect balance of character and plot. Catalyst is a very character-driven story, even though there is a LOT of serious shit going down in this book. It’s interesting to see how far a wealthy, privileged woman can fall in her journey of self-discovery; and it’s exhilarating to see how hard she works to be the change she wants to see in the world.  


Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Catalyst by Rachel Grant, available November 21, 2017:

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Dolly Sickles is a Southerner with a lifelong penchant for storytelling. Her Secret Squirrel identity is Dolly Sickles, but she also writes romance as Becky Moore, and this year her first children’s book will be published as Dolly Dozier. She’s an avid reader of all literature, but she takes refuge in the romance genre, where despite the most grandiose, exhilarating, strange, and unlikely plot that’s out there, every story has a happy ending.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Kareni
This does sound intriguing! Thanks for the review, Dolly.
2. Rah-Rah
I just love Rachel Grant and this new book, "Catalyst", sounds great. Your reviews are always spot-on and I look forward to your suggestions for new books to read.
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