The scenes between those are cringe-inducing and you just want her to gut him every time he fakes affection for her. The book introduces new characters in Shiro and Spider that I really enjoyed as well as gives information on the state of the rest of the world. The complicated politics of the setting are also spelled out better with Metatron shown to be in a rivalry with the board of the Olympias Corporation.
The premise is Nephilim has once more fallen under Metatron's evil sway. The charismatic cybernetic leader of the Guardian Angels managed to force Nephilim to being his mistress and erased all of her memories of her rebellion against him. He remains obsessed with making her his queen and, unfortunately, she is unaware she hates him for much of the book. However, as thorough as Metatron's purge of her memories was, it hasn't been as effective as he thought. Little tidbits of memory as well as questions about the corruption of the Olympias Corporation remain that Metatron is blinded to. She also has friends she made that remain determined to reunite with her like her former programmer Finnick and ex-lover Jake who is stuck behind enemy lines.
I really like Jake's story this time around as before he seemed like an idealized revolutionary. Now, the revelation that he was a honeypot for the Rossum Corporation that wants to eliminate all of the Guardian Angels (Nephilim included) means that he's a far more interesting character. He wants to save Nephilim but his betrayal is not something that could be easily forgiven and it's clear he hasn't developed a desire to defect either (nor would Nephilim be accepted by his people either). This is a very interesting twist and makes their romance or its dissolution very interesting. Much of the book is also dealing with a serial murderer of cyborgs and the twist as to who is "really" responsible is both hilarious as well as ties a lot of the books' twists together.
I really liked the new characters of Shiro and Spider. Both are police detectives who provide a "grounds eye view" of the Olympias Corporation as well as its corruption. Shiro is an alternative love interest for Nephilim and I'd be interested in seeing how they connect. Mind you, so is Spider and I like that all three of them have sexual chemistry. The books are very queer friendly with a bisexual protagonist and a society that is friendly to unconventional sexual expression. Sadly, this book also has the protagonist brainwashed into her current relationship so some readers may be put off reading by that.
I also liked the corporate intrigue depicted in the book with the conflict between Rossum and Olympias, the internal conflict between Metatron and the Board, plus the people of each arcology versus their own governments. I think cyberpunk is a great genre for infighting among factions and moral ambiguity that Anna Mocikat really brings out. I am eager to see which corporation emerges triumphant but the fact that all of them are awful in their own way is part of the world-building. Olympias gives you all the sex and material pleasure you could want but is ruthlessly oppressive to free expression. Rossum allows religious expression but creates scapegoats from every other faction and wields a terrifying propaganda machine.
As before, the action is incredible and the story is entertaining. I really want Nephilim to get free and turn against Metatron but I also know that this is mostly set up for the next installment of the series. This is the EMPIRE STRIKES BACK of the series. I strongly recommend the book to those who read the previous one but there's a lot of gut punches here given how hard we rooted for Nephilim the first time. I recommend the audiobook over the Kindle edition due to the excellent narration by Sean Duregger.