Next up on the YALLWest ARC list is one that I have wanted to read since the moment it came on my radar - THEIR VICIOUS GAMES by Joelle Wellington. The cover is absolutely stunning and the premise is far too juicy to pass up.

Adina Walker has worked her entire life to be perfect and above reproach because she knows that one misstep is all it would take to have everything she’s ever worked for taken away from her. And then it happens. One fight, one small moment in her life, strips her of everything. The only way to regain what she worked hard to earn is to participate in the Finish, a contest sponsored by the practically royal Remington family. Twelve young women compete in three mysterious games - the Ride, the Raid, the Royale - and whoever wins will enter the Remington family fold and gain all the wealth and power that comes along with it. But when Adina arrives at the Finish, things are not as they seem and she quickly realizes that the game is not just make or break - it’s life and death.

I don’t even know where to start with this book. It was absolutely spectacular. I was on the edge of my seat from the very beginning and could not put it down. Living in a world like today where the color of your skin can literally get you killed, this story feels especially relevant. Adina is an incredibly relatable and sympathetic character, standing in for a group of people in society who, as the back cover will tell you, have to work twice as hard just to get half as much. And she rises to the occasion again and again, surprising even herself with her resolve.

Wellington weaves such an intricate web with interesting characters that you never feel comfortable with your impressions of them. No one ever feels safe and every action feels like it needs to be questioned, even those who were seemingly allied with Adina. Each character has their own motivations that took time to figure out and it kept the mystery alive throughout.

In addition to the complicated characters, the relationships (both Adina’s relationships with other characters as well as those characters’ relationships with each other) were complex and informed a lot of the story as well. In a story where it is so each to decide who is on the right side of things, it added an additional layer of intrigue.

Joelle Wellington has proven to understand the ins and outs of creating a thriller that will keep you engaged from start to finish. With such a strong debut under her belt, I am anxiously awaiting whatever comes next for her - and so should you!

THEIR VICIOUS GAMES by Joelle Wellington is available now and you absolutely should pick up a copy for yourself here.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher for free and have voluntarily written this review. If you purchase a copy using my Bookshop affiliate link above, not only will I receive a small commission (which will fuel my coffee and tea addiction and help to keep me up all night reading more books to recommend to you), but you will be supporting indie bookstores as well! If you prefer Amazon, visit my Amazon storefront and click on the list titled "2023 Book Recommendations."