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The Washington Post Featured Thriller That Will Have You On The Edge Of Your Seat Bustle’s Most Anticipated Reads for December An Amazon Best of the Month Selection Book Riot Featured Hispanic Heritage Month Book CrimeReads Most Anticipated Crime Books of Fall 2020 Novel Suspects Featured December New Release "A passionately felt stand-alone with an affecting personal story at i The Washington Post Featured Thriller That Will Have You On The Edge Of Your Seat Bustle’s Most Anticipated Reads for December An Amazon Best of the Month Selection Book Riot Featured Hispanic Heritage Month Book CrimeReads Most Anticipated Crime Books of Fall 2020 Novel Suspects Featured December New Release "A passionately felt stand-alone with an affecting personal story at its center." – The Washington Post Winner of the International Latino Book Award, Aya de Leon, returns with a thrilling and timely story of feminism, climate, and corporate justice—as one successful lawyer must decide whether to put everything on the line to right the deep inequities faced in one under-served Bay Area, California community. Since childhood, Yolanda Vance has forged her desire to escape poverty into a laser-like focus that took her through prep school and Harvard Law. So when her prestigious New York law firm is raided by the FBI, Yolanda turns in her corrupt bosses to save her career—and goes to work for the Bureau. Soon she's sent undercover at Red, Black, and Green—an African-American “extremist” activist group back in her California college town. They claim a biotech corporation fueled by Pentagon funding is exploiting the neighborhood. But Yolanda is determined to put this assignment in her win column, head back to corporate law, and regain her comfortable life... Until an unexpected romance opens her heart—and a suspicious death opens her eyes. Menacing dark money forces will do anything to bury Yolanda and the movement. Fueled by memories of who she once was—and what once really mattered most—how can she tell those who’ve come to trust her that she’s been spying? As the stakes escalate, and one misstep could cost her life, Yolanda will have to choose between betraying the cause of her people or invoking the wrath of the country’s most powerful law enforcement agency. “Part of a new wave of espionage fiction from authors of color and women, many of whom place emphasis on the disturbing nature of being forced to spy on one’s own.” – Crime Reads, Most Anticipated Books of Fall "The author of the four Justice Hustlers novels — mysteries with a heightened leftist social awareness — has produced a passionately felt stand-alone with an affecting personal story at its center." – The Washington Post “Aya de Leon’s latest is part of a new wave of espionage fiction from authors of color and women, many of whom place emphasis on the disturbing nature of being forced to spy on one’s own.” – Crime Reads, Most Anticipated Books of Fall


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The Washington Post Featured Thriller That Will Have You On The Edge Of Your Seat Bustle’s Most Anticipated Reads for December An Amazon Best of the Month Selection Book Riot Featured Hispanic Heritage Month Book CrimeReads Most Anticipated Crime Books of Fall 2020 Novel Suspects Featured December New Release "A passionately felt stand-alone with an affecting personal story at i The Washington Post Featured Thriller That Will Have You On The Edge Of Your Seat Bustle’s Most Anticipated Reads for December An Amazon Best of the Month Selection Book Riot Featured Hispanic Heritage Month Book CrimeReads Most Anticipated Crime Books of Fall 2020 Novel Suspects Featured December New Release "A passionately felt stand-alone with an affecting personal story at its center." – The Washington Post Winner of the International Latino Book Award, Aya de Leon, returns with a thrilling and timely story of feminism, climate, and corporate justice—as one successful lawyer must decide whether to put everything on the line to right the deep inequities faced in one under-served Bay Area, California community. Since childhood, Yolanda Vance has forged her desire to escape poverty into a laser-like focus that took her through prep school and Harvard Law. So when her prestigious New York law firm is raided by the FBI, Yolanda turns in her corrupt bosses to save her career—and goes to work for the Bureau. Soon she's sent undercover at Red, Black, and Green—an African-American “extremist” activist group back in her California college town. They claim a biotech corporation fueled by Pentagon funding is exploiting the neighborhood. But Yolanda is determined to put this assignment in her win column, head back to corporate law, and regain her comfortable life... Until an unexpected romance opens her heart—and a suspicious death opens her eyes. Menacing dark money forces will do anything to bury Yolanda and the movement. Fueled by memories of who she once was—and what once really mattered most—how can she tell those who’ve come to trust her that she’s been spying? As the stakes escalate, and one misstep could cost her life, Yolanda will have to choose between betraying the cause of her people or invoking the wrath of the country’s most powerful law enforcement agency. “Part of a new wave of espionage fiction from authors of color and women, many of whom place emphasis on the disturbing nature of being forced to spy on one’s own.” – Crime Reads, Most Anticipated Books of Fall "The author of the four Justice Hustlers novels — mysteries with a heightened leftist social awareness — has produced a passionately felt stand-alone with an affecting personal story at its center." – The Washington Post “Aya de Leon’s latest is part of a new wave of espionage fiction from authors of color and women, many of whom place emphasis on the disturbing nature of being forced to spy on one’s own.” – Crime Reads, Most Anticipated Books of Fall

30 review for A Spy in the Struggle

  1. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    A new to me author, Aya de Leon, has written a delightful story of a tightly wound, young, African American woman, Yolanda Vance. She has worked her entire life to be the best she can be when suddenly, as a brand new attorney at a prestigious New York law firm, she is embroiled in the middle of a raid by the FBI. Yolanda quickly turns whistleblower and ends up working for the FBI. She only wants to be an attorney, but she has to learn all things FBI, including how to shoot a gun. She soon is sen A new to me author, Aya de Leon, has written a delightful story of a tightly wound, young, African American woman, Yolanda Vance. She has worked her entire life to be the best she can be when suddenly, as a brand new attorney at a prestigious New York law firm, she is embroiled in the middle of a raid by the FBI. Yolanda quickly turns whistleblower and ends up working for the FBI. She only wants to be an attorney, but she has to learn all things FBI, including how to shoot a gun. She soon is sent on an undercover mission in California to infiltrate an African American extreme eco-activist group, “Red, Black and Green which recruits young teens. Yolanda soon discovers that things aren’t as they seem, drops her defenses, and becomes attached to her teen subjects and the “RBG” group. She begins to question the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. To make matters worse, she has formed a strong attraction to a local professor, also a member of the “RBG” Group, and cannot confide in him of her deception. Forces conspire to silence Yolanda, and she must decide to fight for what she knows in her heart is right. Will good overcome evil? The conclusion is explosive. I loved this book! I thank NetGalley and the publisher, Kensington Books, for the opportunity to read and review this book. I gave it four stars. #netgalley #ASpyintheStruggle

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    What I liked about the book - I liked how Aya de Leon incorporated Yolanda's back story and showed how she got to be the person she was as a woman and as a lawyer. This gave us insight into why she would later make the decisions that she did. I liked the social/ecological justice angle with Red, Black and GREEN! Although the Flint water crisis has gained much press, most of these instances are underreported and go unnoticed by the nation at large. Most novels that depict corporate takeovers of l What I liked about the book - I liked how Aya de Leon incorporated Yolanda's back story and showed how she got to be the person she was as a woman and as a lawyer. This gave us insight into why she would later make the decisions that she did. I liked the social/ecological justice angle with Red, Black and GREEN! Although the Flint water crisis has gained much press, most of these instances are underreported and go unnoticed by the nation at large. Most novels that depict corporate takeovers of low income areas focus on gentrification. Usually the aspect of community health and environmental impact on predominantly Black areas is not captured in books. I think that de Leon did a great job of expressing this conflict and making us want to fight alongside the teens. What I did not like - A problem for me was the romance. I'm not really a romance reader If you look at my TBR shelves you will see a lot of mystery, thriller suspense. Historical fiction is another big section as is poetry. What you will not see is a shelf dedicated to romance. If you find a romance on my shelf it was either a gift or a fluke. Of course, I think the book would have went quite well without having the romance in it. But I know for most people that is not a deal breaker. And since I do not read romance novels I cannot even compare it to say where it stacks up as a romance. My thoughts on the book - There was a part of me that just did not like Yolanda Vance in the beginning. At first I found her very short-sighted and judgmental. She really had a hard time relating to the teenagers. We know from her background that Yolanda has always struggled to fit in. That she has always felt "other" when in all Black or all White environments. Yet she approaches the teens with her own preconceived notions. Her character arc however shows growth and maturity. She becomes more empathetic towards others, learns more about herself and gains perspective on her relationships. Personally, I feel that part of her story is yet to be told and am especially intrigued in regards to Yolanda and her father. I am wondering if Aya de Leon is planning to build a series off of this character. My Rating - As a mystery I can tell you that A Spy in the Struggle has all of the right components Intrigue - A woman is found dead in the alley with a needle in her arm but all signs point to foul play. Conflict - Yolanda has been sent to spy on a community activist group. But is she working for the right side. Suspense - Not all is what it first appears. Who can Yolanda trust? As the clock winds down on this mystery we know her life is in danger but we don't know who is coming for her.

  3. 5 out of 5

    M. [storme reads a lot]

    I liked some of the book and then it went downhill for me. All of the spy stuff in the book was great. The emails and all of the mystery. The book just was so bad when the romance was the focus. It just detracted from the book and it made me annoyed. I do not think it needs to be in the book. This could have been a 5 star read, but it just did not meet this criteria because of the romance and how the book ended. I did love. the Black characters and would read more from this author because I do l I liked some of the book and then it went downhill for me. All of the spy stuff in the book was great. The emails and all of the mystery. The book just was so bad when the romance was the focus. It just detracted from the book and it made me annoyed. I do not think it needs to be in the book. This could have been a 5 star read, but it just did not meet this criteria because of the romance and how the book ended. I did love. the Black characters and would read more from this author because I do like the writing.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    A new to me author, Aya deLeon, has written a delightful story of a tightly wound, young, African American woman, Yolanda Vance. She has worked her entire life to be the best she can be when suddenly, as a brand new attorney at a prestigious New York law firm, she is embroiled in the middle of a raid by the FBI. Yolanda quickly turns whistleblower and ends up working for the FBI. She only wants to be an attorney, but she has to learn all things FBI, including how to shoot a gun. She soon is sent A new to me author, Aya deLeon, has written a delightful story of a tightly wound, young, African American woman, Yolanda Vance. She has worked her entire life to be the best she can be when suddenly, as a brand new attorney at a prestigious New York law firm, she is embroiled in the middle of a raid by the FBI. Yolanda quickly turns whistleblower and ends up working for the FBI. She only wants to be an attorney, but she has to learn all things FBI, including how to shoot a gun. She soon is sent on an undercover mission in California to infiltrate an African American extreme eco-activist group, “Red, Black and Green which recruits young teens. Yolanda soon discovers that things aren’t as they seem, drops her defenses, and becomes attached to her teen subjects and the “RBG” group. She begins to question the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. To make matters worse, she has formed a strong attraction to a local professor, also a member of the “RBG” Group, and cannot confide in him of her deception. Forces conspire to silence Yolanda, and she must decide to fight for what she knows in her heart is right. Will good overcome evil? The conclusion is explosive. I loved this book! I thank NetGalley and the publisher, Kensington Books, for the opportunity to read and review this book. #netgalley #ASpyintheStruggle

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mallory

    Overall this book was really well done and kept my interest. There were a few points I felt the story lagged a little but the exciting bits were more than enough to keep me going. I really loved that it was a spy novel but also a contemporary look at racial tensions and racism that occurs every day. I loved the main character who kept getting dealt a poor hand and I loved that we also got glimpses into her past. Yolanda Vance is an overachiever and after graduating Harvard Law she gets picked up Overall this book was really well done and kept my interest. There were a few points I felt the story lagged a little but the exciting bits were more than enough to keep me going. I really loved that it was a spy novel but also a contemporary look at racial tensions and racism that occurs every day. I loved the main character who kept getting dealt a poor hand and I loved that we also got glimpses into her past. Yolanda Vance is an overachiever and after graduating Harvard Law she gets picked up by a corporate law office that promptly gets shut down for fraud. With no other options she goes to work for the FBI and being that she is young, African American, and went to college nearby to the mission she gets sent on an undercover mission into a radical black extremist group in California. Yolanda planned on being a white collar attorney with the FBI not a spy and her mission turns out to be more complicated than she could have ever imagined.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Woc Reader

    Yolanda Vance takes a job with the FBI after she refuses to shred some compromising paperwork and the law firm she works for gets indicted. While newly working for the FBI, Yolanda is sent to infiltrate Red, Black, and Green! (RBG), a political organization in Holloway, California for Black and environmental justice. A major corporation has been exploiting the community however the FBI insists this group is the real problem. As she gets further involved she starts to see that the world isn't qui Yolanda Vance takes a job with the FBI after she refuses to shred some compromising paperwork and the law firm she works for gets indicted. While newly working for the FBI, Yolanda is sent to infiltrate Red, Black, and Green! (RBG), a political organization in Holloway, California for Black and environmental justice. A major corporation has been exploiting the community however the FBI insists this group is the real problem. As she gets further involved she starts to see that the world isn't quite as black and white as she thought. The first half was slower and there was a lot of set up for the plot. I felt the second half did a better job intertwining Yolanda's backstory with current events which made for a stronger and faster paced read. Yolanda is one of those Black people who believe that if you want better, you do better. She adopted that mantra after growing up with a mother who often dropped everything to chase after men which left them in worse situations then they started with. At a young age Yolanda learned time and time again that her mother was unreliable at best and damaging at worst. Even in present day when Yolanda reaches out to her mother during her time of need she only gets some hippie reply back instead of the assistance she needs. Her very narrow view of Black people based off her experiences in small town Georgia and her cheating preacher father and her experiences in a rough neighborhood in Detroit that she worked hard academically to get out of. Being with this group is the first time she's been part of a Black community since she was a child and initially she holds some preconceived notions about the people particularly the teens in the group. In her mind racism can't stop you from working hard and making a name for yourself. While a murder happens and there's a mystery surrounding how this member of the community was killed it's not a key focus. However it is the catalyst that causes Yolanda to open her eyes to the mysterious deaths and FBI coverups. She finally starts to question her superiors and if she's doing the right thing. There is a romance that develops in this story and I've noticed it's very easier for authors to get caught up in selling the passionate sex scenes which I just find out of place in these types of stories. I didn't quite buy the emotional connection fully but I appreciated when Yolanda and Jimmy were open with each other about how past experiences left them jilted. I felt this book shed a light on types like her who are educated about so many things but ignore the plight of their people and easily buy into propaganda. Yolanda may know the law but she is oblivious to how the law is actually applied to Black people until it starts to directly affect her. I received an arc from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. https://womenofcolorreadtoo.blogspot....

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Canaves

    Remember on Friday when I said I was looking forward to reading this over the weekend? Well, I ended up reading the first half in one sitting Friday night—until that pesky thing of needing sleep happened—and finishing it Saturday morning, hence why I’m starting my raving about a December book in August. It’s very good and worth the pre-buy and letting your library know you want them to have it. Aya de León never fails to create excellent characters while bringing communities, and their different Remember on Friday when I said I was looking forward to reading this over the weekend? Well, I ended up reading the first half in one sitting Friday night—until that pesky thing of needing sleep happened—and finishing it Saturday morning, hence why I’m starting my raving about a December book in August. It’s very good and worth the pre-buy and letting your library know you want them to have it. Aya de León never fails to create excellent characters while bringing communities, and their different voices and complexities, to life. Yolanda Vance is a Type A personality who has done nothing but focus on school and work until she finds herself handing in evidence during a raid of her law firm and becoming a pariah in the legal field. With that path blown up, she ends up hired by the FBI as a lawyer. Before she can settle in, she’s given an undercover assignment she has no training for—because she’s all they have in the form of a young Black agent who can relate to teens. She isn’t that confident about her ability to blend in seeing as she’s never felt she fit in anywhere; but she has a positive-thinking-book’s lessons always at the ready and never quits, so off she goes from NY to California. The assignment is to bug the center of Red, Black, and Green!, a teen activist group the FBI has labeled as extremist, while volunteering for the group and reporting back what she learns. While she struggles to keep her opinions to herself—that anyone who doesn’t like their situation can just work hard enough to change it—she also learns a few interesting things: that a recent overdose isn’t believed by the community to be an OD, that the informant who came before her was murdered, that she may not be as anti-love as she thought, and that many of her beliefs are about to be challenged. We get to know Yolanda as she gets to know the FBI team, her new Red, Black, and Green! team, a suitor, and through memories of her childhood with her widowed mother and her years at a prep school and then law school. We also get to know the community fighting against the government-tied corporation that RBG! is protesting and the hilarious, creative, and smart teens making their voices heard, along with the rookie cop who found the OD in question, and adult coordinators of RBG!. I absolutely loved the characters, story, and the bonus of a few shexy-time scenes. Add this to the list of fantastic mold-breaking spy novels like American Spy and the Vera Kelly series. I’m always here for more de León novels and would be thrilled for more Yolanda Vance—this could easily be a series, and I would totally be here for that! (TW drug overdose, talk of addiction/ brief past mention of child-on-child attempted sexual assault) --from Book Riot's Unusual Suspects newsletter: https://link.bookriot.com/view/56a820...

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Marie

    When the law firm Yolanda works at attempts to make her complicit in covering up their fraudulence, she decides instead to become a whistleblower and take a job with the FBI. Although she wants to be an attorney, she is sent to California to act as a spy on a Black "extremist" group that is actually trying to help the local marginalized community suffering from unemployment and pollution side effects from a nearby corporation. This experience ultimately pushes Yolanda to confront her blinded vie When the law firm Yolanda works at attempts to make her complicit in covering up their fraudulence, she decides instead to become a whistleblower and take a job with the FBI. Although she wants to be an attorney, she is sent to California to act as a spy on a Black "extremist" group that is actually trying to help the local marginalized community suffering from unemployment and pollution side effects from a nearby corporation. This experience ultimately pushes Yolanda to confront her blinded views about the struggles of those within her race and the ways the FBI has actively worked against progressive initiatives. A SPY IN THE STRUGGLE was a fairly enjoyable read! I found the topics of race, climate change, and corporate practices to all be very interesting and valuable to the overall plot. Unfortunately, however, I would have liked more articulation of the emotional stakes and changes Yolanda experienced, especially in monumental moments. The focus seemed to be primarily on the plot, but I think it would have allowed me to sympathize with and root for Yolanda more throughout. There were also several slow portions in the book that dragged while the ending and associated conflicts were resolved far too quickly. Although I had some issues with A SPY IN THE STRUGGLE, I still found it to be an intriguing story about a some admirable Black characters grappling with current issues, an engaging mystery, and a bit of romance. Thank you to BookishFirst and the publisher for sending me a copy to read and review!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lorel Holt

    I was really looking forward to this book. It had a really interesting concept a woman’s law firm is raiding by the FBI and she turns in her corrupt bosses. Then she finds herself a job in the FBI and goes undercover to spy on an African American “extremist” activist group. Only to find that the FBI might not be telling the full truth. Yolanda Vance is our main character she is a lawyer who went to Harvard Law and has never been an undercover agent before. She has a great story arc in this, it’s I was really looking forward to this book. It had a really interesting concept a woman’s law firm is raiding by the FBI and she turns in her corrupt bosses. Then she finds herself a job in the FBI and goes undercover to spy on an African American “extremist” activist group. Only to find that the FBI might not be telling the full truth. Yolanda Vance is our main character she is a lawyer who went to Harvard Law and has never been an undercover agent before. She has a great story arc in this, it’s awesome to see the way she thinks change and her slowly change her allegiance to what is right. What really pained me was the romance, I do not like romance in books and this had a decent amount of it. It was real cringe romance too and made it hard to get through the book. It was also boring at times and o lay really picked up the last 30 pages of the book. Overall, I don’t think this was a book for me. It had a very good message but other than that it was just slow and hard to get through.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ariel

    While this book wasn't my favorite, there was still much to love about it. With heart-pounding action, the discussion of poignant issues, and a dash of romance, this was one I knew I needed to keep my eye on. Honestly, the beginning started out pretty slow, but once things took off, the pacing stayed at a steady, high-speed pace. As well, once the pace did pick up, there was a good balance between 'too much happening right now' and 'now I get to relax for a second'. So while there were moments th While this book wasn't my favorite, there was still much to love about it. With heart-pounding action, the discussion of poignant issues, and a dash of romance, this was one I knew I needed to keep my eye on. Honestly, the beginning started out pretty slow, but once things took off, the pacing stayed at a steady, high-speed pace. As well, once the pace did pick up, there was a good balance between 'too much happening right now' and 'now I get to relax for a second'. So while there were moments that took off at neck-breaking speed, the book didn't stay that way for forever. I also appreciated the poignant topics of race and working with marginalized communities. Within these topics, it was also nice to see the growth of our main character, Yolanda, as she learned and grew in her knowledge of these and worked to figure out where she stood. While there were some hints of romance in this book, it was lacking, in my opinion. I'm a sucker for romance so I was excited to see where this took me, but it didn't end up being much. I know this wasn't the main plot or point of the book so I don't want to complain about it too much, but it could have been better in so many ways. Overall, while there was room for improvement in my eyes, I did enjoy the things I learned and the story I was able to experience. Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Blog • Instagram • Twitter

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tanya Patrice

    Probably 3.5 but I'm rounding it up because after this book I'd love to read more from the author. Interesting plot about a whistleblower turned FBI agent, who's sent back to her old neighbourhood because a black militant group of teenagers has been causing some trouble with a big biotech corp ... but all might not be what it seems. Being a rookie agent, not only is she still figuring her job out, but she still has a lot of baggage and trauma from her past that bleeds into her life and relations Probably 3.5 but I'm rounding it up because after this book I'd love to read more from the author. Interesting plot about a whistleblower turned FBI agent, who's sent back to her old neighbourhood because a black militant group of teenagers has been causing some trouble with a big biotech corp ... but all might not be what it seems. Being a rookie agent, not only is she still figuring her job out, but she still has a lot of baggage and trauma from her past that bleeds into her life and relationships. The author does a great job of developing a complex character, and an interesting story line. The plot is relatively fast paced, but without sacrificing the story. The secondary characters were also intriguing - but some of their story's felt half-formed - like I wanted to know more about them. Also - I did get a bit of inst-love vibe, but 'imma forgive it this time because they were grown and hella curte. This is a quick and easy story to get into - read it!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ancillar

    This is my first Aya de Leon book and I have no regrets. Firstly the cover is so gorgeous 😍 and we have to appreciate this. This book is about a whistleblower who becomes an FBI Agent (yep plot twist) and who gets sent to her old neighborhood (oh oh ) because a group of black teenagers are causing trouble . You just have to read this book because it's so amazing and I recommend it ! Huge thanks to Kensington for such a wonderful book with a great character that is exceptionally developed and a p This is my first Aya de Leon book and I have no regrets. Firstly the cover is so gorgeous 😍 and we have to appreciate this. This book is about a whistleblower who becomes an FBI Agent (yep plot twist) and who gets sent to her old neighborhood (oh oh ) because a group of black teenagers are causing trouble . You just have to read this book because it's so amazing and I recommend it ! Huge thanks to Kensington for such a wonderful book with a great character that is exceptionally developed and a plot that is so amazing . Recommend it for the great plot (not forgetting cover).

  13. 5 out of 5

    ahaana ☽

    Thanks to BookishFirst for giving me a chance to read an EXCERPT of this book!! This book had me drawn from the first sentence!! Just the way everything was illustrated, and how relatable, and likeable the main character was, made this book wonderful. I've never read any books by Aya De Leon before, so I didn't know what to expect in her writing style or voice, but 'A Spy in the Struggle' did NOT disappoint! If given the chance to read the complete book, I think it would be on my favourites of 2 Thanks to BookishFirst for giving me a chance to read an EXCERPT of this book!! This book had me drawn from the first sentence!! Just the way everything was illustrated, and how relatable, and likeable the main character was, made this book wonderful. I've never read any books by Aya De Leon before, so I didn't know what to expect in her writing style or voice, but 'A Spy in the Struggle' did NOT disappoint! If given the chance to read the complete book, I think it would be on my favourites of 2020 list, because just the way the beginning is written, and the way it's shaping up was fantastic!! I don't know how the rest of the book will be, and all I know is that I can't wait to get a copy, and learn more about Yolanda, and where her journey takes her! I'm also going to try out Aya de Leon's other books because she seems like an author whose writing style I will LOVE!! Here's to hoping I win this raffle (🤞🤞), because I know that I will DEVOUR this book!!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Tsipouras

    I'm not an American, I'm not black and I don't belong to any kind of minority where I live - but I've always had a heart for minorities. As far as I can tell, this novel by Aya de Léon gives great insight into a community I don't know much about. The most interesting part of this novel was the character development, how insight will change your mind. The love story was a nice bonus, but the main focus was on Yolanda's inner struggle between her ambitions as a lawyer, now FBI agent undercover, and I'm not an American, I'm not black and I don't belong to any kind of minority where I live - but I've always had a heart for minorities. As far as I can tell, this novel by Aya de Léon gives great insight into a community I don't know much about. The most interesting part of this novel was the character development, how insight will change your mind. The love story was a nice bonus, but the main focus was on Yolanda's inner struggle between her ambitions as a lawyer, now FBI agent undercover, and her new found friends. With all this said, the main storyline about the FBI's meddling to support a criminal business corporation is a really suspenseful thriller. All in all a gripping combination of social criticism, milieu study, love story and spy thriller.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    This was such a nice read. The romance is secondary to the themes of social justice but I knew that that's how Aya de León writes. Here the plot was more contained than in other books. The characters were interesting and the chemistry was fantastic once the book shifted toward the romance. I do wish that the main character was not quite so judgmental. It is part of her story arc but it was hard to hear her internalized self hatred and anti-Blackness. I received an ARC on Netgally. All opinions ar This was such a nice read. The romance is secondary to the themes of social justice but I knew that that's how Aya de León writes. Here the plot was more contained than in other books. The characters were interesting and the chemistry was fantastic once the book shifted toward the romance. I do wish that the main character was not quite so judgmental. It is part of her story arc but it was hard to hear her internalized self hatred and anti-Blackness. I received an ARC on Netgally. All opinions are my own.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Fink

    2.5* Thank you to Kensington Books and Bookishfirst for a copy in exchange for an honest review. I am going to start off with what I liked. The story started off so promising. From the first sentence you were put right into the story. No waiting around to see when something would finally happen, no flipping through the pages trying to see how long until something good is going to happen. This book had the reader’s attention from the very beginning. I really liked that the author started off the wa 2.5* Thank you to Kensington Books and Bookishfirst for a copy in exchange for an honest review. I am going to start off with what I liked. The story started off so promising. From the first sentence you were put right into the story. No waiting around to see when something would finally happen, no flipping through the pages trying to see how long until something good is going to happen. This book had the reader’s attention from the very beginning. I really liked that the author started off the way she did. This allowed us as readers to get curious about the story and then she winded back a bit to explain how the character got there. I think that the books and the plot had so much potential, but it just didn't go in a way that would have been best. I still liked the characters and the way they interacted and the relationships that developed. I appreciate how the author tied in issues that are prevalent which could get us to get emotionally attached to the situations. I also liked that it took a new spin to being a spy and that the good guys aren’t always who you think they are. I think that the end was a real eye opener that went against the common conception. The main character also developed through the story as she gained more information and learned what was truly important. I just wish that more of it was on the mystery in the story. It seemed like the exciting parts were pushed to the end and were resolved quickly, when the author could have had the missing people aspect throughout the story, which would have made it more entertaining for me. My main problem with this story is that the climax made no sense to me. Like yeah it was very thrilling but there was no reason of why it happened and why the person did what they did. I also didn’t understand why she was spying on this group to begin with. Maybe that is what the author wanted, that this group had no reason to be on the FBI’s radar, but at least have a fake reason. I just think that it could have been executed better. Again, it had so much protentional and it still was a good read and I really liked the writing, but it just didn’t grab my attention as much as it could. I think that a lot of people could really like it because it did have a lot of good aspects.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    A suspense novel following Yolanda Vance, a rookie FBI agent sent undercover to infiltrate a group of teenagers focused on environmental and race issues in a San Francisco suburb. Yolanda is selected for this assignment not necessarily for her skills, but because of her race, age and background (as bluntly stated by her supervising officer). Yolanda succeeds in joining up with the group, but the further into the group and investigation she gets, the more she begins to question everything. Aya cra A suspense novel following Yolanda Vance, a rookie FBI agent sent undercover to infiltrate a group of teenagers focused on environmental and race issues in a San Francisco suburb. Yolanda is selected for this assignment not necessarily for her skills, but because of her race, age and background (as bluntly stated by her supervising officer). Yolanda succeeds in joining up with the group, but the further into the group and investigation she gets, the more she begins to question everything. Aya crafts a wonderful story that shows Yolanda growing and changing throughout the book, looking back on her tumultuous childhood and the way it impacted her up to this point in her life. The story was captivating and exciting and I really enjoyed reading it, even the hard parts where the ugliness of the relationship between law enforcement and race was called out. I thought the writing was excellent and Aya pulled in several topical issues, including even a mention of COVID in passing. This book relates well to a lot of the non-fiction reading I've been doing around race in America (I'm Still Here, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, White Fragility) and ties those issues into a fiction story. I don't think I would have appreciated the struggles and changes Yolanda went through as much as I did without that prior reading done this year. I'll definitely call out my privilege that I've gained this perspective through reading and learning and not through every day life; I won't pretend to have an ounce of the understanding of these feelings as someone who lives it every day. All in all, I really enjoyed this read and give it ⭐⭐⭐⭐. Thank you to kensingtonbooks for the ARC of this one!

  18. 4 out of 5

    anshu

    Yolanda Vance was initially a first-year associate at a law firm, but when the firm comes under investigation by the FBI, she becomes a whistleblower. She soon interviews and accepts a position at the FBI and immediately gets sent on her first mission: infiltrate the Red, Green, and Black (RBG) organization stationed in her college hometown. Aya de León crafted a well-developed plot. I enjoyed reading of Yolanda's background and understanding how she made the choices she made. She went through a Yolanda Vance was initially a first-year associate at a law firm, but when the firm comes under investigation by the FBI, she becomes a whistleblower. She soon interviews and accepts a position at the FBI and immediately gets sent on her first mission: infiltrate the Red, Green, and Black (RBG) organization stationed in her college hometown. Aya de León crafted a well-developed plot. I enjoyed reading of Yolanda's background and understanding how she made the choices she made. She went through a lot of growth over the course of the book — Yolanda used to be someone who made split-second judgements of people and became someone more empathetic. I also enjoyed reading of the RBG organization and the world-building that went into the novel. However, the beginning was slow and mostly focused on laying the groundwork, but quickly picked up about 25% into the book. The romance felt awkward and I felt it detracted from the overall plot in some areas. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a spy/thriller book! Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC! content warnings: mentions of gun use/shootings, drug overdose

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shannon Wise

    Yolanda Vance is a whistleblower-turned FBI agent. She wants to be an analyst and help bring down white collar criminals. Instead, she is tasked with infiltrating a young environmental group in Holloway, California, the home of her alma mater, Cartwright University. Yolanda accepts the assignment because she has no choice. Little does she know she'll risk her life and her heart. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a perfect combination of intrigue, suspense, and romance. The writing is good an Yolanda Vance is a whistleblower-turned FBI agent. She wants to be an analyst and help bring down white collar criminals. Instead, she is tasked with infiltrating a young environmental group in Holloway, California, the home of her alma mater, Cartwright University. Yolanda accepts the assignment because she has no choice. Little does she know she'll risk her life and her heart. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was a perfect combination of intrigue, suspense, and romance. The writing is good and the plotting is twisty and turny. The only real criticism of the book I have is the ending leaves out information. Certain plot points are not revealed. But that could have been intentional. Particularly, I liked her portrayal of the teens in the movement. They are smart, sassy, and realize they are victims of their circumstances and are trying to make a difference. The characters are well-developed. I loved the references to music and the structure of the book. If you are looking for a good, fun read, this is your book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stephani

    I would give this book 3.5 stars! The author added in COViD-19 and the pandemic in the beginning and I really wish she didn’t. I appreciate her attempt... but it didn’t follow though throughout the book and therefore was distracting to me with the inconsistencies and hence why I would give this book a 3.5 over 4 stars. I really enjoyed it and loved how she tied in the main characters past, with a romance, and the suspense of her being a spy. I would recommend just wish she didn’t try to add in c I would give this book 3.5 stars! The author added in COViD-19 and the pandemic in the beginning and I really wish she didn’t. I appreciate her attempt... but it didn’t follow though throughout the book and therefore was distracting to me with the inconsistencies and hence why I would give this book a 3.5 over 4 stars. I really enjoyed it and loved how she tied in the main characters past, with a romance, and the suspense of her being a spy. I would recommend just wish she didn’t try to add in current events in the beginning!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carlos

    It is my first book by Aya and I didn't know what to expect. The reviews were great and reading about a spy, female, black, empowered, seemed like a great idea in the midst of this pandemic, but... it was not excellent, just OK. A woman falling in love in the middle of an FBI operative is not sound exactly professional and the ending was so so. So 3 stars to this book who will woo readers of the romantic vein. It is my first book by Aya and I didn't know what to expect. The reviews were great and reading about a spy, female, black, empowered, seemed like a great idea in the midst of this pandemic, but... it was not excellent, just OK. A woman falling in love in the middle of an FBI operative is not sound exactly professional and the ending was so so. So 3 stars to this book who will woo readers of the romantic vein.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shehn

    I didn't expect to like A Spy in the Struggle as much as I did; I worried it'd be a bit cliche about a woman finding herself but there was so much more involved. There was a bit of romance and a lot of intrigue and mystery. I especially loved the emphasis on learning / social justice without being overly preachy about it. At a time when we talk about the needs of The People, when we talk about gentrification or communities being left behind, or how drugs and violence can rip communities apart - I didn't expect to like A Spy in the Struggle as much as I did; I worried it'd be a bit cliche about a woman finding herself but there was so much more involved. There was a bit of romance and a lot of intrigue and mystery. I especially loved the emphasis on learning / social justice without being overly preachy about it. At a time when we talk about the needs of The People, when we talk about gentrification or communities being left behind, or how drugs and violence can rip communities apart - I got so much out of reading A Spy in the Struggle. I hated Yolanda a bit when I started the book, but the way in which flashbacks into her life were incorporated helped to understand how she became who she was. The younger characters were relatable and weren't written as overly cliched or childlike; their fears and hopes jumped off the page in an honest way. Brava, Aya de León! I applaud you for this work, even if it did make me super homesick for the Bay Area. (I received a free digital copy of A Spy in the Struggle from NetGalley and Kensington Books in exchange for an honest review.)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kendra

    This is a great example of how what seems to be genre fiction--in this case, a thriller--can also serve as social commentary and education. Yolanda, an FBI agent, goes undercover with a Black organization that is seeking justice for the damage done to its community by a local industrial giant. The more she involves herself with the group, the more aware she becomes of why we need Black Lives Matter and other groups working for change.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    From the 1950s through the 1970s, the American intelligence establishment ran amok. Until brought up short in 1975 by the Church Committee hearings, the CIA roamed the planet, eliminating “Communist” leaders through assassination and economic sabotage from Iran to Guatemala to the Congo. Domestically, the FBI undermined activist movements both Black-led and white with undercover spies, agents provocateurs, and, yes, assassination, too. The FBI operated under the rubric of a program code-named CO From the 1950s through the 1970s, the American intelligence establishment ran amok. Until brought up short in 1975 by the Church Committee hearings, the CIA roamed the planet, eliminating “Communist” leaders through assassination and economic sabotage from Iran to Guatemala to the Congo. Domestically, the FBI undermined activist movements both Black-led and white with undercover spies, agents provocateurs, and, yes, assassination, too. The FBI operated under the rubric of a program code-named COINTELPRO. But there was no Church Committee to halt the FBI’s illegal tactics. Did COINTELPRO ever end? In her blockbuster new thriller, A Spy in the Struggle, Berkeley literary luminary Aya de León raises the question. And she doesn’t like the answer. You won’t, either. A reluctant agent for the FBI Yolanda Vance ended up in the FBI as a last resort. At the New York firm where she worked in corporate law, she had blown the whistle on the partners’ insider trading scheme. Now no other law firm would hire her, her degree from Harvard Law notwithstanding. In desperation, she joined the FBI in New Jersey. But her dream of practicing law for the government doesn’t last long. Soon after joining the Bureau, Yolanda is transferred to the Counter Terrorism Squad in San Francisco. There, she is to infiltrate a “black identity extremist group” that poses a threat to a major Pentagon contractor. Yolanda is African-American. She had attended a women’s college located adjacent to the contractor’s research center in the East Bay, and she’d worked with teenagers as a volunteer. Yolanda has no choice. Untested rookie or not, she’s on her way back to the East Bay. And when a superior informs her about COINTELPRO as a way to explain how dire is the threat, he fails to mention the FBI’s illegal tactics. Eco-activist teenagers confront a defense contractor Yolanda’s target is artfully named Red, Black and GREEN! It is, in fact, a small group of eco-activist teens led by a charismatic African-American man and a couple of other adults. The FBI emphasizes how RBG threatens the nation’s security because it’s drawing unwelcome attention to the biotech company Randell Corporation. The distraction is slowing down work on a project for the military. Yolanda, daughter of a Bible-thumping preacher in Georgia and a corporate lawyer by choice, is inclined to believe everything the Bureau tells her. Which leads her to discount claims by RBG’s leader about COINTELPRO’s shameful history. But from the outset, she does wonder how a tiny group of teenagers could actually threaten a major defense contractor. Might this be termed a battlefield conversion? It soon becomes clear just how RBG threatens Randell Corporation. A young African-American woman—a Randell employee—has been discovered dead in an alley with a syringe of heroin dangling from her arm. But it’s clear that the woman had never been a heroin addict and, in any case, had been clean and sober for years. As RBG mobilizes a growing protest movement demanding answers from the company, Yolanda gradually starts to wonder whether she’s on the right side. And as events play out, culminating in a police riot, escalating evidence of the FBI’s illegal tactics, and multiple attempts on Yolanda’s life, we gradually learn the terrible truth. This is, in a sense, Yolanda’s coming of age, and it’s beautiful to behold. About the author Aya de León teaches creative writing at UC Berkeley. Although she first gained critical attention for her spoken word poetry, de León turned to writing novels in 2013 in addition to shorter pieces that have appeared online and in many leading periodicals. She has won multiple awards for the four books in her Justice Hustlers series. De León holds a B.A. from Harvard and an MFA from Antioch University.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bruin Mccon

    “You do know the law. You just don’t know how it gets enforced.” Yolanda Vance is an FBI agent who goes rogue in A Spy in the Struggle, a thriller set in the East Bay. Yolanda had a rough childhood, moving from place to place with her mother after her father died when she was five. Her mother had abusive relationships that caused her and her daughter to flee in the middle of the night, and a few that crashed and burned because the man was cheating. Yolanda never felt she was first on her mother’s “You do know the law. You just don’t know how it gets enforced.” Yolanda Vance is an FBI agent who goes rogue in A Spy in the Struggle, a thriller set in the East Bay. Yolanda had a rough childhood, moving from place to place with her mother after her father died when she was five. Her mother had abusive relationships that caused her and her daughter to flee in the middle of the night, and a few that crashed and burned because the man was cheating. Yolanda never felt she was first on her mother’s list of priorities and she eventually got a scholarship to boarding school. After a full scholarship to a small women-only college which is probably the fictionalized version of Mills, she went on to Harvard Law and was planning for a career in corporate law. Her career path hit a rough patch when her firm was raided by the SEC and she refused to shred docs and she ended up working for the FBI. While she was hired as a lawyer, she ended up going undercover in Holloway, CA, pretending she was going to take the California Bar. She was tasked with investigating an environmental group in the town that the FBI said was a “Black extremist group.” Cue the record scratch. Most readers probably thought about some of the well known examples of the FBI trying to take out civil rights groups in the 1960s. This was the only bit that was difficult to swallow—for at least half of the book, Yolanda was espousing some super conservative, self-hating beliefs about how racism was an excuse. It was some primo right-wing “pull yourselves up by your bootstraps or you deserve to starve” mumbo jumbo that didn’t make much sense with her other influence, a positivity guru. I accept that some Black people may have these beliefs but it was a bit of a stretch. I’m guessing the idea was why would anyone who truly believed in racism have gone to work for the FBI. But it’s quite clear that it’s a last resort for Yolanda who is on the verge of homelessness. That all said, this book is about an FBI agent who learns the case she’s on is actually in service to a chilling corporate cover up. Yolanda is at a meeting of the group she’s infiltrating when an old woman stands up and talks about her granddaughter being killed and the police not investigating. Despite some issues with the premise, I really enjoyed this book. I liked Yolanda’s journey to a new belief system and how she started to heal from a painful upbringing. And I particularly appreciated how Yolanda began to recognize that there is a difference between the letter of the law and how law enforcement interprets it. As a former wannabe lawyer, I’ve seen many fresh lawyers go from true believerism to jaded lawyers in a matter of months. Law students can be very idealistic and the law in action can quickly turn new lawyers into cynics. That felt incredibly true to life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eule Luftschloss

    trigger warning (view spoiler)[ racism, n-word as colloquialism, emotional abuse, mention of domestic abuse, mention of miscarriage, police brutality, drug addiction, mention of suicide, grief, trauma (hide spoiler)] A rookie FBI agent who expected to be a lawyer is instead sent as an undercover agent to an activism group that protests the work of a morally-dubious but very finacially successfull company. Newbie corporate lawyer Yolanda Vance decides to not take a hit for the company she works for trigger warning (view spoiler)[ racism, n-word as colloquialism, emotional abuse, mention of domestic abuse, mention of miscarriage, police brutality, drug addiction, mention of suicide, grief, trauma (hide spoiler)] A rookie FBI agent who expected to be a lawyer is instead sent as an undercover agent to an activism group that protests the work of a morally-dubious but very finacially successfull company. Newbie corporate lawyer Yolanda Vance decides to not take a hit for the company she works for and to not shred evidence - a decision which puts her out of a job now and for the future. So she has to fall back on plan z and go through with the application she sent to the FBI ages ago for shits 'n giggles. Since she is a woman of colour with a degree, she doesn't get the job she applied for, but has no agency in the matter of where she is put to work. So, right off from the start we know that Yolanda not only has a conscience, but also that she will act on it, even if it goes against direct orders. We know right from the start that she probably will do the right thing, eventually. The question is how long it will take, and what a mess she'll have to clean up later. There are heavy topics in this novel. You can't say I'll do activism for one issue in my area but I'll ignore all the rest, so of course, Black Lives Matter plays a big role. Racism, police brutality, classism. In fact, Yolanda spends a majority of the time wrestling with the difference in how the teens she now works with are brought up to how she herself was brought up - having to hide her blackness, trying to act as the white privileged people she is educated with do. She is called out on this and has to work things out, which is hard to watch. You could say this is very political, but for me it's more about compassion. Human rights for every human. And if you argue this is political, well, the FBI is involved so what did you expect? The characters are three dimensional. The pacing is great. I could have done without the sex scenes, so fellow aces, be aware that quite suddenly, there is a lot. But I promise it's executed in a great way, not "spy spies attractive specimen of the opposite binary gender and wants" like in James Bond. I love how randomly a FBI person is queer and has a woman at home, waiting for her. This is how you insert queerness in your books. Don't kill them off randomly, don't make them cartoonish. So far, the experiment "do I like spy novels if it's not about the same white male stories over and over again?" is successfull. Full recommendation, will read more by this author. The arc was provided by the publisher.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Misha

    "She could come back. She would come back. She just had to spy on some black extremist teenagers." ~Agent Yolanda Vance The word "just" is putting it very lightly. In A Spy in the Struggle, Yolanda Vance, wet behind the ears FBI agent fresh from a job in corporate law, is assigned an undercover detail that she assumes will be an easy gig. But this assignment isn't all that it seems to be on the surface and ultimately she is forced to question her employers, herself and her values. The FBI wants to "She could come back. She would come back. She just had to spy on some black extremist teenagers." ~Agent Yolanda Vance The word "just" is putting it very lightly. In A Spy in the Struggle, Yolanda Vance, wet behind the ears FBI agent fresh from a job in corporate law, is assigned an undercover detail that she assumes will be an easy gig. But this assignment isn't all that it seems to be on the surface and ultimately she is forced to question her employers, herself and her values. The FBI wants to protect a tech company, Randell, because they are working on some big, important, secret project for the government. So essentially, Yolanda is undercover to help make sure the "extremist" group, Red, Black and Green! (RBG), doesn't disrupt Randell's work for them by feeding the FBI info about RBGs plans ad movements. I put the word extremist in quotation marks though because this group is not an extremist group at all and as Yolanda begins to realize this, her job becomes harder for her to do. Honestly, although Yolanda is a brilliant, strong, independent Black woman, she is very unlikeable at first because she is disillusioned about struggles faced in the Black community especially when it comes to accountability. She came into the job with some horrible assumptions about the organization she would be infiltrating and even though a lot of those assumptions is due to half-truths the FBI told her, the rest is all her and her upbringing. She grew on me once she began to realize that simplest things could have made her life like the homeless Black kids she comes across and learns that everyone's circumstances are different so we can't judge everyone based on our experiences alone. This growth occurs with her reflecting on her past a lot. Throw in a super sketchy, mysterious death and a hard to ignore romance, this was one of those undercover op stories where you're just waiting for everything to blow up in the UC's face. Overall I enjoyed the story and had fun reading it but some of the transitions between past and present didn't flow right with me and also I wasn't really surprised with the way the story developed and ended. Thank you Kensington Books, Bookishfirst and Aya de Leon for the opportunity to read and honestly review this book!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jalesa Reid

    This is the first book that I have ever read by Aya De León and I must say it was phenomenal. It was thrilling to read how Yolanda navigates through life on her own. It’s obvious that up until this point, she’s been living in the shadows of her parents’ past. She isn’t your typical preacher’s kid. Especially since she was so intuitive as a child. She was young but she paid careful attention to the things around her. Although she did not understand, she saw! As a little girl she saw her mother ch This is the first book that I have ever read by Aya De León and I must say it was phenomenal. It was thrilling to read how Yolanda navigates through life on her own. It’s obvious that up until this point, she’s been living in the shadows of her parents’ past. She isn’t your typical preacher’s kid. Especially since she was so intuitive as a child. She was young but she paid careful attention to the things around her. Although she did not understand, she saw! As a little girl she saw her mother change religions and relationships like the seasons. Yolanda tries to escape from her parents mistakes by becoming a successful lawyer. If she works hard and ceases every moment then love would be sure to follow. No distractions! That was until her whole world was flipped upside. Everything she has worked so hard for is gone in the blink of an eye. When she is given the assignment to infiltrate the RBG, she was broke and a rookie agent. The pressures of being successful still lingered in her psyche. So she took the job. Everything that she thought she had known about herself, her parents and the world she lived in transformed as she navigated into unknown territory. Yolanda struggles to decipher what is true and what is just subconscious outlooks she held onto from her childhood. The twists and turns of the story really hit home when love jogs its way into the story. Unexpectedly, Yolanda must face this new world she infiltrated and created with the most courage she had ever had to muster up in her life. This riveting story is one that many can relate to, whether you are the Modern Sista trying to figure out where you fit in the world or an inner city teenage that is tired of being sick & tired. Aya De León did a remarkable job at telling such a captivating story while connecting you to relatable characters. This book is a must read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    When the Manhattan firm where Yolanda Vance is a first-year associate is raided by the FBI, she makes a split second decision to become a whistleblower, handing over a stack of documents instead of shredding them as she'd been instructed to do. This decision leads her to apply for a job with the FBI. The application was intended to be a back-up plan, but no other corporate law firm was willing to hire her following the raid and her decision to turn over those documents. Yolanda is initially assi When the Manhattan firm where Yolanda Vance is a first-year associate is raided by the FBI, she makes a split second decision to become a whistleblower, handing over a stack of documents instead of shredding them as she'd been instructed to do. This decision leads her to apply for a job with the FBI. The application was intended to be a back-up plan, but no other corporate law firm was willing to hire her following the raid and her decision to turn over those documents. Yolanda is initially assigned to work as an attorney in a New Jersey field office. But, one day, she is called in with a special assignment that will take her to the San Francisco Bay area to work as an undercover agent. The assignment is to infiltrate an African-American "extremist" organization based in the town where she attended college. Her youth and connection to the town make her a seemingly ideal choice for this assignment, even though she is not an agent. The story moves along at a brisk pace -- the raid, Yolanda's hiring by the FBI, and her assignment all happen within the first ten pages -- from start to finish. At times, I would've liked to have seen the story slow a bit, as the faster pace seemed to gloss over certain spots. This made it somewhat difficult to follow all of the in's and out's of the case, but perhaps that helped the reader to understand Yolanda's conflicted feelings about her assignment and the organization she was investigating. There is a romance element to this story and some scenes were steamier than I was expecting to read in a spy novel. While the romance was part of the reason that Yolanda was so conflicted, I ended up skimming those parts of the story to get back to the case and political intrigue. While the pacing and story were quite different, I was reminded of American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson, which I really enjoyed. The struggles of each woman working undercover made for intriguing reads in both cases and I would recommend both books to anyone interested in reading a fresh take on the traditional spy novel. Many thanks to the Goodreads Giveaways program for the chance to read this advanced digital copy courtesy of Dafina! I look forward to reading more books by this author soon based on my read of this captivating novel.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Alexa

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. summary: Since childhood, Yolanda Vance has forged her desire to escape poverty into a laser-like focus that took her through prep school and Harvard Law. So when her prestigious New York law firm is raided by the FBI, Yolanda turns in her corrupt bosses to save her career—and goes to work for the Bureau. Soon she's sent undercover at Red, Black, and Green—an African-American “extremist” organization back in her California college town. She’s anticipating a career win – not for an unexpected roma summary: Since childhood, Yolanda Vance has forged her desire to escape poverty into a laser-like focus that took her through prep school and Harvard Law. So when her prestigious New York law firm is raided by the FBI, Yolanda turns in her corrupt bosses to save her career—and goes to work for the Bureau. Soon she's sent undercover at Red, Black, and Green—an African-American “extremist” organization back in her California college town. She’s anticipating a career win – not for an unexpected romance to open her heart and a suspicious death to open her eyes. Menacing dark money forces will do anything to bury Yolanda and the movement. As the stakes escalate, and one misstep could cost her life, Yolanda will have to decide between betraying the cause of her people or invoking the wrath of the world’s most powerful law enforcement agency. My Review: I really loved how this book was talking about real life situations, for example; racism and covid. I really loved this book. I received it yesterday and I was soooo excited to read it and luckily I finished it this morning. This book was surely one of the best I've read. The author deserves so much credit for creating such an amazing book. I wouldn't exactly recommend it to someone to be honest. I really loved the cover on this book it was gorgeous. I absolutely love how this book brings racial equality. It's one of the main reasons I fell in love with this book. Just by reading the first sentence I could tell this book was going to be amazing. My rating would be 9/10. Yolanda is definitely an amazing main character. The author did amazing with this one!

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