Book Review: Chaos Agent by Lee Winter

I reviewed book 1 of Lee Winter’s Villain series last week. I read book 2 on the train from Sydney to Melbourne and it did a great job of helping pass the time. In Chaos Agent Michelle Hastings has hired Eden Lawless to work at the Fixers – an excuse to keep Eden in her orbit, given she can’t bring herself to admit her attraction.

The problem is that Michelle knows that the work the Fixers does would not sit well with Eden’s ethics if she found out the truth. Michelle seeks out the ‘less bad’ jobs that could be interpreted as aligning with Eden’s view of the world and assigns them to her. She also tells her EA to make sure others in the office know to keep the truth from Eden (aka the Panda). Meanwhile Michelle starts to question her own ethics as she believes deep down she is evil.

Eden starts her first ever office job and sets out to do what she does best – community building in an office full of ex-FBI, CIA, hackers and criminal types. She starts a weekly coffee club focused on ethically grown beans and fills the office with plants to improve the air. Her colleagues soon fall for her just as much as her boss has.

“And I, for one, worship at your stupid, unfashionable, vegan-leather-wearing feet,” Daphne said. “Between our boss and these evil little reprobates, I declare you The Asshole Whisperer!” She lifted her glass and smirked at her colleagues amidst good-natured cheers and boos.

The charade fails when Eden discovers that the Fixers really is a depraved company that will do almost anything to protect and advance the rich and powerful. Eden leaves and sets out to expose the Fixers. Michelle fights back. The problem is the women have a persistent attraction to one another.

Chaos Agent is an unusual romance with loads of subplots. The push-pull between the women is a vehicle to explore what it means to be good, how we are accountable for our mistakes, that we can hold opposing feelings about others, and that the lines of right and wrong are not always clear.

It had been a month since Lawless had quit, and Michelle’s office was in disarray. Employees were cranky, mistakes were being made, and everyone seemed to silently blame her for the absence of their favorite colleague.

Eden is witty, kind and funny, if a little black and white in her idealism. Michelle is distant, strategically scheming, (mostly) ruthless and tormented by self-loathing – the classic ice queen. Their journeys are supported by a cast of unique and interesting characters from Michelle’s grandmother, Hannah, to Phelim, the Fixers brutish head of security. Chaos Agent is another slow burning romp full of adventure, fun, moments of cringe, and a bit more edge than The Fixers. I loved it as much as the first in the series.

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