Okay, the premise that this could be / should be read as a standalone book is ludicrous. You need to know and understand these characters' past to really connect with their future. I thought everything progressed in an agreeable and conceivable way. Rhys and Darius and the entire band of players are front and center. In fact, Amelia Gormley did an excellent job integrating Zach & Nico's relationship into the story. There's not much I can say that's not a spoiler so I'll say the pacing was good, questions were answers and all the characters developed well. I had a strong sense of place and ... I'm glad I read this bad boy!