Liliana Vela hates the term victim. She's not a victim, she's a fighter. Stubborn and strong with a quiet elegance, she's determined to take back her life after escaping the clutches of human traffickers in her poor Mexican village. But she can't stay safely over the border in America--unless the man who aided in her rescue is serious about his unconventional proposal to marry her.
Meric Toledan was just stopping at a service station for a bottle of water. Assessing the situation, he steps in to rescue Liliana from traffickers. If he can keep his secrets at bay, his wealth and position afford him many resources to help her. But the mysterious buyer who funded her capture will not sit idly by while his prize is stolen from him.
Melissa Koslin throws you right into the middle of the action in this high-stakes thriller that poses the question: What is the price of freedom?
This fast-paced if uneven thriller from Koslin (Never Miss) follows a woman on the run from human traffickers. After cartel members kidnap Liliana Vela and kill her family, they smuggle her from Mexico into the U.S., where she escapes. While taking shelter at a gas station, she encounters Meric Toledan, a handsome businessman who recognizes that she's in trouble and offers to marry her platonically so she can legally remain in the U.S. She accepts the offer and moves into Meric's opulent Houston penthouse, where she tries to establish a sense of normalcy by studying English and exploring the city. Though Meric initially keeps his distance, he and Liliana grow closer as he helps her cope with her trauma and she nudges him to seek God. Then Meric discovers that Liliana's intended buyer has killed her kidnappers because of their failure to deliver her, leading Meric and Liliana to work together to investigate why she was targeted. In the process, she begins to suspect that Meric's connections to the trafficking world are more complex than he's revealed. The romance between Meric and Liliana is sweet but tainted by the disparate power dynamic between them. Additionally, the shifts between the romance and trafficking plotlines can be jarring. It adds up to a tonally confused thriller and romance hybrid.