"In a post-apocalyptic world, one woman must face the most powerful man in the world"
Reviewed by Leanne Davis
Posted October 7, 2007
Suspense | Fantasy | Graphic Novel Manga
Raina Bowen knows she can handle herself against the frozen
Northern Waste. She just needs a trucking permit so that
she can deliver her cargo and win a large monetary prize at
the same time. She's made arrangements to meet a man named
Wizard who agreed to sell her the permit.
Raina doesn't expect to find Wizard in trouble with the
largest trucking company in the world. The company, which
controls the road, she wants to travel. Meeting Wizard
will draw Raina into a rebellion against the current
government, put ice pirates on her trail, and expose her to
the man who runs both the trucking company and the
Her enemy has been tracking her for years and wants to use
this opportunity to get his revenge on Raina. Wizard will
expose Raina to more danger than she ever expected, but it
will also bring romance into her life. Just what she
needs, a maniac out to kill her and a man who can melt the
ice around her heart.
Wizard has some unique abilities. He is a mercenary for
hire. His life revolves around his work and his
affiliation with the rebels. Meeting Raina will open his
mind and heart to what he has been missing all these
The author has written a top-notch thriller, which grabbed
me and didn't let go while reading. It was very rewarding
to observe the interplay between Raina and Wizard. The
way they learned to share their backgrounds as they worked
together against the evil surrounding them. Ms. Kenin left
the story open enough to indicate that more books will be
coming and yet, the ending was highly satisfactory.
Learn more about Driven
Raina Bowen knows she can handle herself just fine
against anything the harsh Northern Waste throws at
her. Until it throws her an enigmatic stranger called
Wizard. First, she has to haul him out of a brawl he
can't hope to win. And next, her libido is shooting
into overdrive at the feel of his hard body pressed
against hers on the back of her snowscooter. But
there's something not quite right about this guy.
Before she can strip bare Wizard's secrets, they're
lured into a race
for their lives, battling rival truckers, ice
pirates...and a merciless
maniac with a very personal vendetta.
The air was stale, rank with the stink of smoke, sweat and
old beer. Bob’s Truck Stop. Nice place for a meal.
Raina Bowen sat at a small table, back to the wall, posture
deceptively relaxed. Inside, she was coiled tighter than
the Merckle shocks that were installed in her rig, but it
was better to appear unruffled. Never let ‘em see you
sweat. That had been one of Sam’s many mottos.
She glanced around the crowded room, mentally cataloguing
the Siberian gun truckers at the counter, the cadaverous
pimp in the corner and his ferret faced companion, the
harried waitress who deftly dodged the questing hand that
reached out to snag her as she passed. In the center of the
room was a small raised platform with a metal pole
extending to the grime darkened ceiling. A scantily clad
girl, barely out of puberty, wiggled and twirled around the
pole. Raina looked away. But for a single desperate act,
one that had earned her freedom, she might have been that
Idly spinning the same half empty glass of warm beer that
she’d been nursing for the past hour, she looked through
the grimy windows at the front of the truck stop. Frozen,
colorless, the bleak expanse stretched with endless
monotony until the high-powered floodlights tapered off and
the landscape was swallowed by the black night sky.
A balmy minus 30 outside. And it would only get colder the
farther north they went. Raina had a keen dislike of the
cold, but if she were the first to reach Gladow Station
with her load of genetically engineered grain, there’d be a
fat bonus of 50,000,000 interdollars. That’d be more than
enough to warm her to the cockles of her frozen heart.
More than enough to buy Beth’s safety.
Keeping her gaze on the door, Raina willed it to open. She
couldn’t wait much longer. Where the hell was Wizard?
Sitting here—a woman alone in a place like this—drew too
much attention. She wanted no one to remember her face.
Anonymity was a precious commodity, one she realized had
slipped through her fingers as from the corner of her eye
she watched one of the Siberians begin to weave drunkenly
across the room.
“ Well, hello, sweet thing.” He stopped directly in front
of her, kicked the extra chair out from the table and
shifted it closer before dropping his bulk onto the torn
Naugahyde. He was shrouded in layers of tattered cloth,
stained and frayed, the stink of him hitting her nostrils
before he finished his greeting.
“ Leave. Now.” Keeping her voice low and even, Raina snaked
one hand along her waist toward the small of her back,
resting her fingers on the smooth handle of her knife.
The Siberian smiled at her, revealing the brown stubs of
three rotting teeth. “You can’t chase me off so easy. I’ve
been watching you.” He gestured at the front of his
pants. “You need a man, sweet thing.”
Uh, huh. “And you think you’re a man?”
The trucker frowned at her question, then his thick brows
shot up as he realized he’d been insulted. Undeterred, he
leaned forward, catching her ponytail with one scarred and
dirty hand. “I’ll show you how much man I am. Give us a
kiss, sweet thing.”
His tongue was already out and reaching as he pulled her
face closer to his.
“ Last warning,” Raina said softly, wishing he would
He gave a hard tug on her ponytail. Raina slid her knife
from its sheath, bringing it up with a sharp twist, neatly
slicing through the tip of the trucker’s tongue. Blood
splattered in all directions, thick and hot. With an
enraged howl he jerked back, letting loose his hold on her
as he clapped both hands over his mouth. Dark blood dripped
down his unshaven chin to pool on the tabletop.
Raina sent a quick look at the rest of the Siberians. Their
attention was firmly fixed on the girl who was shimmying up
and down the pole. Returning her gaze to the moaning
trucker, she picked up the stained scrap of cloth that
passed for a serviette and slowly wiped her blade clean.
She knew that once serviettes had been made of paper, but
that was a long time ago when there had still been enough
trees to provide pulp.
“ Name’s Raina Bowen. Not sweet thing.” She sighed. So much
for anonymity. “And the last thing I need is a man.”
Well, that wasn’t exactly true. She needed one man in
particular, Wizard and his precious trucking license, but
he was nowhere to be seen.
The trucker’s eyes widened as he registered her name, and a
flicker of recognition flared in their dull depths. Nice to
have a reputation, even if she didn’t quite deserve it.
This lovely little encounter would just add to the
mystique. Unfortunately, it would also add to the risk of
being found. Damn.
He reached for her again, his hands rough, his expression
stormy. He was mad, challenged, belittled, and he wanted
revenge. What was it with Siberian gun truckers?
Twirling her hair around one finger, Raina shifted her
expression, lowering her lashes over her blue eyes in
a “come-hither” invitation, curving her lips in a winsome
smile. The trucker blinked, clearly confused by her abrupt
change in manner. He leaned in—Lord, some people never
learned—and Raina deftly clipped him hard under the chin
with the hilt of her knife.
He slumped across the Formica table, unconscious, mouth
hanging open, leaving her with a blood splattered tabletop,
a ruined beer, and an end to her patience.
His companions were looking this way now. Raina lowered her
head as though enthralled by her table-mate, using her body
to shield his inert form from view. Her ruse worked and the
men nudged each other and laughed before turning back to
Well, that had bought her about three minutes.
A sudden blast of light sliced through the frost-dusted
window, spreading a glowing circle across the floor. Hope
flared as Raina wondered if Wizard had finally arrived, but
no, there was too much light for just one vehicle.
Trucks. Lots of ‘em. They parked in a circle, the beams of
their headlights illuminating a circumscribed area.
Like an arena.
She’d seen this set up before. The new arrivals were
expecting entertainment, the kind that involved fists, and
they were using their rigs to create the venue. She stared
through the glass, the muscles of her shoulders and neck
knotting with tension. Illegal gladiator games. There was
going to be a blood bath.
Hell. Wizard or not, she’d outstayed her time here. Tossing
a handful of interdollars on the table, Raina shrugged into
her parka and headed outside, sticking well back in the
shadows as she watched the scene unfold. The trucks were
huge, as tall as two-storey houses, painted slate gray, and
on the front in bold silver letters, the name JANSON.
Men were emerging from the cabs. Big, burly guys, dressed
in hides and skins, bristling with weapons. Janson company
men. How nice. The Janson owned the ICW—Intercontinental
Worldwide—the longest highway ever built. Or at least, they
acted like they did.
She could feel the tension in the air. Taste it. Someone
had pissed these guys off, big time.
At the far end of the lot was a lone truck. Black. Clean.
Nameless. Nice transport, she noticed. A non-company
driver, just like her. Poor bastard. He was obviously
tonight’s planned entertainment.
“ Hey, Big Luc,” one of the Jansons yelled, moving into
place in the circle that had formed.
“That’s the worthless parasite who jumped line. We gotta
teach him some manners.”
Jumped line? What moron would jump line on Janson trucks?
They went first. It was an unwritten law. Anyone who
flouted it was either insane or bent on a quick death.
Raina watched as money exchanged hands. Odds were obviously
in favor of Big Luc.
“ His pressure looks low, don’t it? Can’t have an unsafe
rig on the highway,” a second man called, then laughed at
his own lame joke. “Wizard’s got some balls coming here
tonight. He shoulda kept driving. Maybe we’d have let him
live another day.”
Wizard. Oh, no. Of all the morons in the frozen north, she
had to hook up with the one who had picked a fight with a
good portion of the Janson army. She narrowed her eyes at
the huge black rig, the one at the far end of the lot.
Wizard’s rig. Damn, damn, damn.
He was of no use to her now. Still, she couldn’t help but
try to figure a way that she could salvage the trucking
pass he was supposed to give her.
“ Luc. Luc. Luc.” The crowd was calling their champion.
In response to the cry, a huge man swaggered into the
circle of light, raising his arms as he slowly spun around
and around, egging his admirers on. Beneath the flat wool
cap that clung to his skull, bushy brows drew down over a
nose flattened and skewed to one side, and just below it
bristled a thick thatch of mud colored whiskers. An animal
pelt hung over his massive shoulders. The head was still
intact, the jagged teeth catching the light.
Raina glanced back at the black rig at the far end of the
lot. She’d never met Wizard, had contacted him on Sam’s
instructions—which in and of itself was a questionable
recommendation—but she couldn’t imagine he’d be any match
for Luc. She had a hard time imagining anyone as a match
The door of the cab opened, and a man swung down. He was
tall, dressed in a black parka, the hood pulled up,
obscuring his features. She felt a moment’s pity, and then
squelched the unwelcome emotion. Not her fight. Not her
business. Sam’s words of loving fatherly advice rang in her
head as clear as if he was standing beside her. If there’s
no profit in it for you, stupid girl, then walk away. Just
walk away. What do you care for some sucker’s lousy luck?
Not only was there no profit in it for her, but the jackass
had cost her. Wizard was supposed to show up an hour past
with a temporary Janson trucking license that would allow
her to jump the queue all nice and legal, behind the Janson
but ahead of the other indies. Instead, he was an hour
late, and he’d dragged a frigging army with him. Too bad
the army wasn’t on his side.
Wizard strode forward. He made it half way across the
parking lot, half way to the door of the truck stop before
Luc’s fist connected with his face. Raina winced. She had a
brief impression of long dark hair as the hood fell back
and Wizard’s head snapped sideways. He went down, rolling
head over heels across the inflexible sheet of solid ice.
In three strides Luc was on him, the steel reinforced toe
of his company issue boots finding a nice home right
between Wizard’s ribs. Wizard didn’t move, didn’t moan, and
for a second Raina wondered if that first punch had knocked
him out cold. With a laugh, Luc kicked him again, and then
nudged him with his boot, once, twice. He backed off,
waving at the group that surrounded him, shaking hands as
he slowly made his way toward the door of the diner, acting
as though he’d just rid the world of public enemy number
The remaining Jansons closed in, a pack of avid rats, eyes
glittering with malevolent intent. There was no doubt in
Raina’s mind that they were going to beat Wizard within an
inch of his life, a warning to anyone who tried to cross
Raina glanced at her snowscooter. She’d been smart enough
to park her rig in a safe place and use the scooter to get
her to the truck stop. No sense inviting trouble. Now she
wondered if she could maneuver into the circle of men
surrounding Wizard’s prone form, nab him, and get them both
out of here before someone got killed. She hesitated, the
thought going against her every instinct of self-
preservation. Why she was even considering this she
couldn’t say. Hadn’t Sam Bowen beaten all compassion out of
her? Stupid girl. Empathy will only get you killed.
Squelching the voice in her head, she focused on the guy
sprawled across the frozen ground. He had the damned
trucking license, and she needed it. All she needed to do
was figure a way to get it.
She cringed as Wizard pushed himself to his feet. Shaking
his head as if to clear it, he wiped the back of his hand
across his mouth. God, he didn’t even have the sense to
“ Hey, Luc,” he called softly, the sound of his voice
drawing Raina up short. Low, rich, a sensual baritone that
sent a shiver up her spine. “While you’re in there, you
want to fetch me a beer?”
Raina closed her eyes and sighed. Dim. Thick. Brainless. He
was a dead man. And all for the sake of what? His machismo?
She shifted, trying to get a look at his face, but he’d
pulled his hood up again.
Big Luc turned slowly to face him. “You got a death wish,
“ Name’s Wizard, and the only thing I’m wishing for is a
long cold beer.” Oh, that slow, lazy drawl. It should be
illegal for a guy that dumb to have a voice that smooth.
“ Well, Wiiiiz-aaard...” Luc guffawed, slapping one fleshy
palm on his thigh. “You ready to die?”
Run. Run. Run. You might have a chance. Raina willed him to
move, because she knew Big Luc would kill him and leave his
frozen carcass in the snow. The wild dogs would pick him
clean, and no one would care. She’d make herself not care.
Luc lunged at him. Raina expected Wizard to step back, to
dodge, to move. Instead, he shot out one fist with
lightning speed, dropping Luc in his tracks.
She blinked, certain her brain was processing something
other than what her eyes had seen.
For a moment, she waited, convinced that Luc would get up,
would charge like an enraged bull and cut Wizard down.
Without a backward look, Wizard turned and strode in the
direction of the diner, as if he hadn’t just accomplished
the impossible. As if he hadn’t just invited his own
And, oh, the way he moved... confident, fluid, a man
comfortable in his own skin. Raina watched him for a long
minute, and then looked away, wondering what the hell was
wrong with her. Why should she care about the easy way some
useless gun trucker moved his hips?
Whoooo. Get it together, Bowen.
No one spoke. No one moved. It felt like no one dared
breathe, and then two guys stepped forward, hauled Big Luc
up by his armpits and dragged him away.
Stupid man. Stupid, stupid man. Wizard had just made a
mighty powerful enemy in the Janson Trucking Company.
Actually, they’d been his enemy from the second he’d jumped
line, but they might have let him live... suffer, but live.
Maybe. Now, she didn’t think so. They were likely to gut
him and feed his intestines down his own throat.
Her breath hissed from between her teeth. She needed the
Gladow winnings. For herself. For Beth.
Frig. She needed that temporary license, which meant she
was just as stupid as Wizard was because she was about to
step into his fight.
Hugging the shadows, she sprinted to the edge of the wall,
climbed onto her snowscooter and gunned the engine. She
spun the scooter in an arc. Heart racing, she stopped
sharply near the door of the truck stop, just behind the
dumb jackass who had so thoroughly messed up her plans.
“ Get on,” Raina shouted. Several of the Janson men were
closing in, and she was glad that the hood of her anorak
hid her features from view. She could only pray that they
wouldn’t recognize her. Yeah, right. “If you have one iota
of sense, get on.”
Wizard whipped around to face her. For a frozen moment he
stood silhouetted against the light streaming from the
window behind him. She thought he would prove that he
lacked even that one iota of sense she’d mentioned, for he
just stood there, his head tilted as he watched the line of
Janson truckers who were slowly stalking him, closing in
behind her. She could sense them, see the hazy reflection
of their faces in the windows of the truck stop at Wizard’s
Then with a shrug, he swung one long leg over the seat of
the snowscooter, his arms coming around her waist as he
Dragging in a deep breath, Raina gunned the engine and took
off into the star tossed night. Heart racing, she set the
speed as fast as she dared, knowing the dangers of hitting
a deep rut at high speed. Knowing, too, that there was a
strong likelihood they’d be followed. Even over the noise
of the engine she could hear the roar of a mob denied.
Heat exploded in a shimmering wave, and for an instant,
night turned to day as someone fired a round of plas-shot.
Wizard’s reaction had to be instinctive. He pushed up tight
against her back, protecting her with his body. With a
hiss, she jerked her elbow sharply into his gut, sending
the message that she didn’t need him to act like human
She could feel him behind her, pressed up against her back,
his muscled thighs melded to hers, his arms forming a solid
vice around her waist. He was bigger than she had expected.
When he’d stepped down from his truck, all she’d registered
was the size of Big Luc, the danger posed by the Janson
She’d thought Wizard some harmless prey.
Now, with the feel of his long, hard body pushed up against
her, she wondered how she could have been so wrong.
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