by Measha Stone
Be warned that if you start reading “Corrupted Innocence” in the evening, as I did, you may also find yourself unable to put it down, even when you don’t finish until 3:00 AM. Like me. Author Maesha Stone has created a story that I think is truly one of her best, and that’s saying something because I always seem to enjoy her work.
Charlie is the nickname everyone uses for Charlotte, a young woman who has devoted her life to two things: (1) continuing the deli business started by her beloved parents and (2) trying to save her older brother from the consequences of his addictions. Nikolai just happened to be along with them when men who work for him encountered the sister of a man who owes his family money, instead of the man himself. The deadbeat brother left her to face them and vanished. Desperate to save her big brother, Charlie volunteers herself as part of the transaction. She’s simultaneously relieved and horrified when Nikolai accepts her offer. Nikolai is intrigued by Charlotte, dealing with personal family issues, running his part of the family ‘business’, and trying to determine if there’s a traitor in their midst.
Charlie and Nikolai are both multidimensional characters, and that’s what makes this story so entertaining; they both sometimes act in ways you don’t expect them to. The chemistry between them confounds them both. There are some unexpected developments in the story, and I liked how they were handled. If you’re familiar with other books by this author, it’s nice to see a few main characters from those books appear as secondary characters in this one. I’m looking forward to another book in this series.