Talk about whirlwind suspense, tension, and adventure that doesn't stop! I was hooked on the very first page of the latest Diana Renn novel. With all the talk lately on a lack of diversity in YA, this one is a perfect addition to that collection.
What worked: I loved how suspenseful and engaging this novel was! Readers are introduced to TV host Tessa who acts a little rebellious by riding 'Bandit' style in a cycling race for cancer. This act has her promptly fired from her children's TV show but that's not what gets to her. Right before the race, Juan Carlos, a cycling star, asks her to contact him as it's important. He dies before she can do this. At first she blames herself as she did cause a major accident during the race but later questions pop up on maybe there was much more to his death. She decides to go to Ecuador to find the truth even if that means it might put herself in danger.
One huge plus is the strong protagonist. Tessa is strong willed and doesn't give up. Her jerky former cyclist star boyfriend Jake shows his true colors more than a few times at the beginning and I'm glad that she has enough backbone to go with her gut feelings even if that means losing him. The story really comes to life when she journeys to Ecuador and volunteers with bringing bikes to the residences of this country. The Ecuadorian countryside is shown in brutal honesty from the rich residences complete with armed guards to the squalid of the poorer neighborhoods.
I liked the suspense and mystery on what might have really happened to Juan Carlos. The added possible romantic angle with Ecuadorian Santiago adds to the storyline. It's not over the top and she doesn't wait for him to solve the mystery but rather uses his help along the way.
Tessa is a great heroine that's strength adds much to this story. Renn doesn't just dwell on the Latin American country's corruption but equally shows others, like Tessa's host family, who want the best for Ecuador without doing illegal activities. The Spanish gives the story authenticity as it's right on. I can say this as I'm fluent in Spanish.
Another added bonus is readers get an insight into the world of professional cycling. Fascinating details along with other painful hidden glimpses into how this sport can be tainted by a few.
Fast-paced engaging adventure set in the world of professional cycling with a determined girl who sets out to resolve her friend of a wrongdoing. A must read for those who love suspense, adventure, and hints of romance set in a Latin American countryside.