Reviewed by May
“And what did you do, Abby?” Her eyelids opened. Meeting his gaze, she set her jaw and said, “I ripped his eye out.” The four men just stared at her, this woman whose voice had suddenly become toxic, whose words shocked them into silence.
“You… ripped his eye out,” Ethan finally sputtered, looking stunned.
“Right out of the socket.” She turned her head and pressed her cheek against the leather seat.
Kane exchanged a look with D. Jesus Christ. Who was this woman? And damn, but he couldn’t fight the rush of triumph knowing she’d stuck it to that sadistic bastard Devlin.
This woman is Abby Sinclair, a highly skilled assassin whose adopted father, a former Army Ranger, taught her everything she could want to know and more about survival and combat skills. A woman who had a childhood filled with both rape and abuse, Abby has honed herself into a stone cold killing machine. Smart, beautiful, deadly.
The set up is that she’s purposely blown her cover and is attempting to rescue singlehandedly a dozen or more young girls about to be sold at auction into sexual slavery. Several countries away, Kane Woodland works as a mercenary in a top group, a group of mostly single men whom I would expect to see in future from this author featured in their own stories. He doesn’t really do relationships, and aside from being good looking I found almost nothing to like about this character. His boss is approached by the most deadly female assassin in the world, and asked to rescue Abby who hasn’t checked in for two days, and whom she believes has been detained by the bad guy she was sent to kill.
That’s right. Abby’s job was to kill a man (which she admits she had plenty of opportunity to do) but she didn’t. Instead she got herself captured, beaten nearly to death, and almost raped. Only reason I could see that she lives is that at the exact right moment Kane and his crew charge in and extract her. Kane and his team agree that they will try to go back and save the girls as well – days later once Abby tells them the girls are there and that it’s the reason she was captured, that is.
Romantic suspense tends to be over the top, much like a good action flick. Lots going on, hot sex in the middle of dangerous missions where sane people would not think of getting naked, plot points that make you stop and scratch your head… but overall, if done well, is an enjoyable wild ride that whips you around and makes you not question (or not mind) any details that don’t quite work for you.
Early on in this book when Abby is first rescued, she is covered in dirt, blood, grime, and has been beaten with a whip all over her naked body. Our hero has this thought while looking at her unconscious (suffering from dehydration and fever among other things):
She was attractive. Well, probably. Once the swelling eased and the bruises faded he’d be able to make a better assessment.
This was the first red flag for me – that we are being told about her attractiveness was not only unnecessary at that moment, but for me spoke negatively about the hero’s character.
Later, her friend has this thought about Abby:
Abby might be broken, but she could be fixed.
Really? You can just “fix” a lifetime of having sex used as a weapon against you and then turning sex into your own weapon in order to get close and kill men? Not even a week into the timeline of this book, the hero decides it’s time for them to consummate their relationship:
“Tonight we’re going to finish what we started, Abby.”
“And if I don’t want to?”
She glared at him again, then spun around and disappeared down the hallway.
Then when the night comes…
“You’re acting like a total bastard right now.”
“I don’t give a damn. I’m tired of this one step forward, two steps back bullshit. Tonight I want it all.” He fisted his hand in her hair and brough her head down to his. Their mouths collided in a hard kiss, which he deepened instantly by pushing his tongue between her lips. She gasped, tried to move away, but he held her in place, holding her prisoner with the kiss.
He also at one point says to someone else:
“She needs me.” His mouth tightened in a grim line.
“whether she likes it or not.”
Seriously? I could not like this guy Kane any less. The quotes show pretty clearly what I don’t like about him, but as a story overall there was a lot I didn’t like as well.
The heroine makes several moves that are on the border of TSTL town. Classic rebellion, going off on her own, not trusting anyone with the truth crap that just made everyone else’s jobs harder. The author has her so badly injured in this book that she can’t show us what a kick ass assassin the woman is. Instead she’s shown as weak and broken while that big strong (not broken) hero swoops in to force her to get it on and enjoy the pleasure only he can give her.
This was an insta-love story. From their first meeting to the rescue of the girls was not even two weeks. That the hero pushed her into his bed in an even shorter time frame, never mind puts out relationship demands on her, totally baffled me. How would you expect a woman who has never had sex for enjoyment, who has never once orgasmed, to be ready for a committed relationship in that time frame? She needed to approach him, to be comfortable and trust, to accept the idea of love. I felt like none of this happened. Instead we got a charging bull of a hero which really killed any romance or sexiness for me.
The hardened assassin, cold as ice woman who is so badass – where was she? Oh yes, she got herself captured, injured past the point of being able to work on the rescue team, and is busy giving in to and having sex with the a-hole hero. I would have loved some insight into her life as a teen with her adopted father. That aspect really doesn’t get any detail or page space – and I thought the idea that he rescued her (quite literally) then helped her in the only way he knew how (by teaching her how to take care of herself) was so touching.
The escape and rescue of the girls was drawn out, I could not believe the way they went about it, and the “auction” details were drawn out and I wish the story had been without both them, and the scenes with the characters who will be featured in the next book. Indeed, had more of that space been devoted to some emotional growth, some romance, showing us why these two are so perfect together – or at the very least if a more complex or interesting plot was devised – I’d have liked that a lot more.
Bottom line I never understood the how and why of this romance. It actually felt like the heroine’s lines and details got switched with some other heroine in some kind of HEA mix-up. This guy Kane is handsome, she feels attraction towards him and normally she never is attracted to anyone. That’s the entire basis for a lifelong love? The speed in which it develops not to mention the ass-tastic nature of the hero both really bothered me.
What started out as a story with amazing potential and unique premise crumbled and fell to pieces for me. I can handle dark subjects, I felt like this book took some very dark material and tried to make light of it. Or rather, that the darkness was trotted out for the angst factor, but not taken seriously. The story did offer at times glimmer of hope and a writing style that I enjoyed (even if the words tended to anger or irritate vs entertain me). In the end; this was just a case of a story that simply did not work on any level for me.