Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville
M/M Romantic Suspense
E-Book/Print , 308 Pages
Reviewed by Mandi
Why I read: It made the final four of the Dabwaha tournament, and when it beat The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, I put down everything and read it.
Favorite Quote: Jack stood there paralyzed. “Say it again,” he whispered. D cupped his cheek and lifted his head to meet his eyes. “I’ll find you,” he said, low and implacable.
Dr. Jack Francisco stops to eat a cookie before heading to the parking garage to get to his car, and his life will change forever. When he gets to the garage, he witnesses a woman being stabbed by three people. These three people happen to be drug mobsters, and the woman, a very important key witness to an upcoming trial. Jack is thrown into the witness protection program, and is relocated. He gives up his job, years and years of school down the drain and is told to hideout until the trial date set in a few months. The mob brothers are a very dangerous group, and the state is desperate for his testimony.
D, and that is the only name he goes by, is a hit man. He is basically a shell of a human being. He is empty – just living day after day without much emotion or purpose. He accepts contracts to kill those who are more on the evil side, more with a reason to die. He always declines to kill those that look innocent on paper. He is good at hiding, becoming a shadow – or so he thought. The mob brothers have caught up with him and blackmails D into finding and killing Jack. D tracks him down, and even points the gun between Jack’s eyes, but he can’t find it in himself to pull the trigger.
Jack’s emotions go from shock, to begging for his life, to seeing a slim hope that maybe D is not actually going to kill him. D analyzes the situation and thinks there is more involved than just killing Jack. If the brothers wanted Jack dead, they could have hired any hit man. Why D, when they know he only takes certain contracts? D decides to make a run for it with Jack in tow. Together they start hiding out – but there are many twists to come in this story. D is determined to get Jack to the witness stand alive and a beautiful and unlikely romance develops between these two.
Zero at the Bone is a story that took me places I didn’t expect. When we first meet both Jack and D I thought I wouldn’t connect with the romance because I just couldn’t see them together – but boy was I wrong.
Jack is a doctor, someone caught up in this violent world purely by chance. Although he sees the aftermath of violence in the operating room, seeing it actually occur is something totally different. D is a very broken man. He has his reasons for being a hit man, and twists that make him quite a redeemable character. He hasn’t trusted another man for as long as he can remember, but watching him learn to trust Jack is a remarkable thing. The romance is very, very slow to build..but once it starts, it builds up momentum fast. These two have both been married in the past, and both are not even sure if this is the path they want to take. It starts out so subtle with just a pinky finger:
He looked down and saw his own hand resting at his side, just a hairbreadth from D’s. He took a breath and held it, then slowly stretched out his pinky finger until it just grazed the side of D’s hand; a tiny stroke of tentative contact. D didn’t withdraw; instead, his hand flinched a little closer. Emboldened, Jack covered D’s hand with his own; D turned his palm up and their finger slid together, interlacing and fitting against each other like they’d been waiting for nothing else but the chance to do so.
Jack likes to talk and wants to know everything there is to know about D. D, hasn’t talked to anyone for ten years and has no idea how to deal with this new man in his life. The action that unfolds is really quite vivid as well. It is a very violent book, evil people are at play. It is quite a journey to watch D go from reluctant protector, to coming to care for Jack in a way he never thought possible. I also like that Jack stops and questions – does he truly love D or is it just lust and gratefulness for not killing him and being holed up an extremely stressful situation? Of course, he realizes it is love – and D definitely reciprocates.
My only complaint is that I think the ending drags out for too long. I was ready for the end before we actually got there. Otherwise, the romance coupled with their desperation to live, to be together, to get out of this hellish lifestyle they have found themselves in will rip you apart. The bad guys just keep coming. There comes a point where no matter witness protection or not, they realize this will never end. It is an amazing and gripping story that I could not put down and made me an emotional wreck (in a good way!). Zero at the Bone is truly a captivating story and one that I highly recommend.