Last Kiss by Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick
Series: Hitman, #3
Released: May 5, 2015
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “We are all strange in our own way.”
Vasily is one of the Bratva’s top enforcers. Changes in circumstances and his own views has Vasily deciding the Bratva needs a complete overhaul to make room for a new path and a new leader In order to do this, he makes a deal with the council. If he brings them a lost artifact that is rumored to be blessed, they will throw his support behind him. Brawn and bullets won’t be enough for this job. He needs technological help and that calls for the Emperor. But he never expected the Emperor to be female…or to be attracted to her.
Naomi Hayes has spent the last eighteen months as a prisoner for the Colombian cartel; forced to use her genius intellect and skills to make them millions in exchange for her family’s safety. When her brother Daniel comes to her rescue, she is once again kidnapped, but this time by a surly Russian who demands her services. He promises to let her go if she helps him locate and secure the artifact he needs; but Naomi isn’t going to go quietly this time.
As Vasily and Naomi travel across Europe, avoiding the hitman sent to kill them, and following the trail to the artifact that leads them to some very interesting places, a relationship forms that soon takes over until only their wants and desires exist. But Vasily has to complete his mission to save the Bratva’s future and his own, even if it means giving up his heart.
Russian mobster? Autistic hacker? Erotic clubs? Suspenseful thriller?
Last Kiss picks where Last Breath left off and runs with it like a footballer with the world cup winning goal. In Last Breath, the hero, Daniel Hayes, was on a mission to rescue his sister from the Columbian cartel. He is asked to make a detour, as a personal favor to Nick (Last Hitman), to rescue his girlfriend’s best friend who was kidnapped and sold into prostitution. Daniel is forced to ally with Vasily for help extracting Naomi only to discover Vasily has other plans and spirits Naomi away for his own gain.
As with the other books in this series, you don’t have to have read the previous ones to enjoy the current one. Each installment stays centralized on the characters and conflict at hand with minor bleed over from previous installments. Though this one does not have quite the visible darkness the last installment had, there are still violent undertones and references to sexually illicit and abusive proclivities. Once again Clare and Frederick chose some difficult subject matters and they handle them with respect and dignity to all parties involved.
I enjoyed getting to know Vasily and Naomi. We met them in previous books but this installment is one hundred percent their story. They are both such wonderfully unique and compelling characters. Naomi has Aspergers Syndrome. Highly functioning and very intelligent, but extremely limited in her ability to handle everyday social interactions. She is completely honest in her observations and emotions. Her inability to process non verbal communication or the nuances of everyday conversations is heartbreaking at times.
I function differently than most people. I’m inside my head more than most, and I don’t know how to deal with people. I’ve been called everything from Rain Man to retard. I’m not.
Vasily is the victim of sexual abuse. Deadly, deceitful, and destructive- he is a full fledged sociopath. Sold into the Bravta at an early age, he is forced into a life that slowly chips away at his soul until there is nothing left. Like Naomi, he has trouble with sensory stimulation though his reasons stem from a far darker place.
I do not liked to be touched. I do not like women. Lust in not in my vocabulary.
Alike in many ways, they live their lives to the best of their abilities, forced to linger on the fringes of a society. It’s only when they meet and allow themselves to explore and grow within those boundaries do they truly get to see what they are capable of. They are two unusually shaped pieces of a puzzle that fit together perfectly to make a whole.
The story is told from both POVs, giving us an intimate accounting of how they feel in each situation they encounter without the overlap or recap that sometimes happens in this first person dual narrative. The chemistry and connection between them was instantaneous; literally smacking you in the face with their potency. Clare and Frederick take their time in slowly drawing out their personalities, introducing them to one another and peeling back the many layers to reveal their souls.
Vasily didn’t understand Naomi at first but as time passes he begins to and is soon able to anticipate what she needs to help her adjust to the situations he is putting her into without clipping her wings. He subtly pushes her boundaries, remaining a solid comforting presence at her back. He comes across so cold and unfeeling when in actuality I found his blunt speech quite romantic at times. He offers no useless platitudes or careless words to woo her into bed-he speaks plainly and directly from his heart.
I have lived a life worthy now that I have had the chance to love you.
Naomi’s evolution is quite adventurous and humorous at times. The changes in her emerge slowly as the story unveils. I appreciated the fact that she begins to understand that her boundaries are fluid and rationalizes these changes to herself in order to better accept them.
I’ve shared his germs. His mouth is safe now, in theory, because it’s something I’ve been exposed to. Maybe if I’m covered in Vasily’s germs, I won’t get sick when he touches me, because we’ll have communal germs. We’ll have been thoroughly exposed to each other’s bacteria.
Maybe he needs to kiss me all over.
The smooth writing and dynamic characterization I’ve come to expect from this writing duo doesn’t disappoint as they build an action packed suspense that engages from page one. Heavily character driven, Clare and Frederick do a fabulous job of intertwining the romance with the conflict, using one to feed the other. Well plotted and fast paced, it creates a satisfying arc of development for the main characters and culminates in two very different sort of conflicts – one that threatens the lives of Vasily and Naomi and one that threatens their relationship. If I had one qualm, it was I felt the resolution of one particular plot line was almost comical and didn’t present as I had been expecting.
Last Kiss was a satisfying read and I recommend this series to anyone who loves romance suspense with damaged characters, erotically charged romances, dry, witty humor, and non stop thrills and chills. I look forward to the next installment-Last Hope-set to release September 29, 2015.
Prior Jen Frederick/Jessica Clare Reviews
Ramblings from a Chronic Mind
Goodreads I Jessica Clare I Jen Frederick
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