All lines are gray in the dark.
The fourth and final book in the IMA series, Cease and Desist continues the story of Michael and Christina. If you read the first in the series, you'll know that our couple had a bit of a dubious start; Michael kidnapped Christina. Through the books they have quite the journey, hate, love, death, violence, sacrifice, and turmoil. While this book carries forward the action plot with Christina and Michael still battling against the IMA and namely a sadistic truly vile villain Adrian Callaghan, the purpose seemed to be addressing the themes presented throughout the series and Christina psychoanalyzing her own emotions and actions.
I loved Michael, and I wasn't quite sure why because he gave me so little recourse in this twisted excuse of a relationship. Was it because I wanted to fix him, or because the sex was good? Was it years of Catholic repression rearing its head, or was it because he had loved me first, and I loved the idea of being loved more than I actually loved the man?
Chiefly, Christina explores how, why, should, and if she loves Michael. The book almost felt sort of meta for me at times with it feeling like the author was searching through her characters why she wrote them the way she did. As this is the last in the series, I didn't mind all the introspective insights and delving and as this series as a whole had me questioning the same things Christina did, I was able to analyze my own thoughts and feelings along with her. It gave the book a different tone from the rest but still had the action. Action that will not be for the average reader as it involves sex slaves, torture, and rape. I said in my review from the first book that the author goes there (way there in this story) but not sure she should have. Same feelings in this case, although, it felt less shock value this time and more like, here's an unflinching story about the dregs of society.
The ending? It's a cliffhanger and challenging happily ever after all rolled into one; if you don't like ambiguity or open-ended finishes, you're going to want to stay away. My first response was to yell a "NO!" and then "oh come on, that can't be the ending!". After thinking about it though, it works for me. My thought on the ending, (seriously, don't read if you are going to read the series or book, it will ruin the ending for you)(show spoiler)
If you want to muck around in the grays, challenge and contemplate your views on right, wrong, and love, then this series would be an interesting one to take on.
*This book can't be read as a standalone, you need to start from the beginning.