Book Review: Cleopatra’s Vendetta (Stryker #1) by Avanti Centrae

  • Title: Cleopatra’s Vendetta
  • Author: Avanti Centrae
  • Where to buy: Amazon (affiliate link)
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Would I recommend: Only if you like a compelling story that’s hard to put down!


Royal secrets. Epic lies. This “dangerous” and controversial standalone thriller from international bestselling VanOps author Avanti Centrae is a fast-paced bombshell of a story about truth and courage.

Born a goddess, Cleopatra died a prisoner. But the cobra’s deadly kiss was just the beginning…

Bari, Italy, present day. Think tank Special Ops leader Timothy Stryker and his wife Angie, a self-made CEO, haven’t exactly been seeing eye-to-eye. They take a much-needed Italian holiday, but it comes to a shocking end when Angie and their daughter are kidnapped.

Still raw from the death of their infant son, Stryker is desperate to rescue Angie and reconcile their differences. As he works to locate the captors’ lair, he discovers the kidnappers are behind a string of recent assassinations and attempting another high-profile hit in only seven days. But when he learns their plans for his only remaining child, the scab on his heart tears open and blood begins to spill.

Working from inside her brutal captors’ high-security compound, Angie realizes the cabal is hiding an ancient secret using modern propaganda techniques. And as Stryker races hitmen across India, Egypt, and Greece to thwart the next assassination and save his family, he has to connect a series of deadly dots tracing all the way back to the time of Cleopatra. Ultimately, the estranged pair must shake the deeply buried pillars of western civilization to save their four-year-old daughter from an unspeakable fate.

Fascinating, provocative, original, and timely, Cleopatra’s Vendetta is a sizzling novel that paints a disturbing picture of some of the most intricate issues that have plagued humanity’s past…challenges that color our days and provide the blueprint for our future.

My review:

Trigger warning: This book depicts women held captive by sex traffickers. While there are no graphic sex scenes, there is some physical mistreatment of the women.

Holy heck, what a book! Avanti Centrae has a fascinating premise – that Cleopatra, knowing her death was imminent, took control of the time she had left and engineered her demise rather than waiting on Octavian to do her in. She didn’t really die by the bite of an asp, and she left behind hidden information in a secret location, hidden information that would be vital in taking down an ancient group with a long-held grudge against women.

Jump forward to modern day. Timothy and Angie Stryker lost their infant son, and it’s taken a toll on their marriage. Angie has been trying to keep her pain at bay with alcohol. Stryker hopes they can restore their strained relationship with a family vacation to Italy. But before that happens, Angie and their four-year-old daughter, Harper, are kidnapped by a group eventually identified as the Sons of Adam.

Stryker, a Special Ops commander, is able to get help from his team to start the search. They soon realize that the kidnapping may have some connection to the assassin (or assassins) taking out world leaders that they’ve been trying to get a line on. It may also be connected to Cleopatra and her missing journal.

This book took off right out of the gate and didn’t let up. Avanti Centrae lays the foundation with a look at Cleopatra’s last hours, and then really ramps up with Stryker and the team chasing assassins and Angie and Harper being taken. There were no slow moments. I know you hear books described as “unputdownable,” but this one really was. I was up way later than I should have been on a work night reading.

What I know of Cleopatra is limited to the generally accepted view of her as a seductress and as having died by suicide by snake. But she was also a powerful ruler in her own right, and Centrae creates a believable possibility of how things really went down for the dethroned queen. I enjoyed the historical tidbits woven in and the centuries-long battle of good versus evil.

The characters were all well written, to my reading. Even the relatively minor characters had back story. Zola, the cook on the island where Angie, Harper, and the other captives were held, was one of my favorites. Though it seemed that she had no power, no way to impact her situation, in the end she played a vital role and was an absolute badass.

Sam, Angie’s sister and one of Stryker’s teammates, was another fantastic character. Her interest in and knowledge of Cleopatra was vital to the team as they tried to track down the lost journal, and she was as tough as any of the men on the team.

Fast-paced, gripping, and worth staying up late to read. Five big stars for Cleopatra’s Vendetta, and I can’t wait to read more from Avanti Centrae!

Disclaimer: I received a review copy from the author. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

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