Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Christie's review: Last Kiss by Jen Frederick and Jessica Clare


Title: Last Kiss
Series: Hitman #3
Author: Jen Frederick/Jessica Clare
Release Date:May 5, 2015
Rating:3.5 stars
Cliffhanger: No

Naomi: When I was kidnapped I thought only of survival. I don’t thrive well in chaos. That’s why I gave my captors exactly what they wanted: my skill with computers. Making millions for a crime lord who kept me imprisoned in his basement compound kept my family safe. When he was taken out, I thought my ticket to freedom had arrived. Wrong. I traded one keeper for another. This time I’m in the hands of a scarred, dark, demanding Russian who happens to be the head of the Bratva, a Russian crime organization. He wants my brain and my body. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intrigued, but I can’t be a prisoner matter how good he makes me feel. Vasily: At a young age, I was taught that a man without power is a puppet for all. I’ve clawed—and killed—my way to the top so that it is my heel on their necks. But to unify the fractured organization into an undefeatable machine, I need a technological genius to help me steal one particular artifact. That she is breathtaking, determined, and vulnerable is making her more dangerous than all of my enemies combined. But only I can keep her safe from the world that she now inhabits. Soon, I must choose between Naomi and Bratva law. But with every day that passes, this becomes a more impossible choice.

What I love about this series is that these two talented authors give you real, raw, and un-watered down stories of criminals with tons of action and suspense. These books are about killers. They're violent, they're hardened, and they are not somebody who you would like to come across in a dark alley. Too many times, we get mafia or hitman books where the hero is supposedly a "scary guy" and he's has a sweet side just waiting for our lucky heroine to bring it to the surface. Or he's thinking about his feelings and mooning over his love...NO. Don't get me wrong, I love those guys when the character profile fits, but when I'm reading a book such as this, I want real.

This book is about Vasily, a man trying to claw his way to the top of the Russian Bratva and bring order back to the organization that has been slowly seeping out through bad leadership.

His other main objective is to bring his sister out of hiding and allow her to live her life in freedom and safety. Nothing and no one is going to stand in his way from his goals. He leaves no confusion over the fact that he will kill anyone who tries to stop him.

The key to getting every last thing he wants is a master computer hacker: Naomi. AKA: The Emperor. She is the one person that can hack into any system undetected and find the information he needs. Who has the Caravaggio painting? One piece of art holds the future of the entire Bratva and his sister's life in the balance.

I am not born to the Bratva or to some higher family. I am simply a killer with an elevated status, looking for an obscene painting that will cement my position as king of evildoers.

This book becomes a treasure hunt taking us through Italy and Russia, through sex clubs with unthinkable depravity, gunfire, and impossible situations. And through all this, we see this cold-hearted man slowly become attached to Naomi. A woman with Aspergers who has sensitivities to germs, social interactions, reading emotions, and cannot function with loud noises or unexpected places or situations.

I'm like one of the computers back in my garage apartment at home-wired differently for optimum efficiency.

Naomi was a difficult heroine for me. Usually I like quirky or nerdy heroines, but in this case, there were things I liked about her, but some of the things she thought about and the way she rationalized things in her head really took me aback. Because she is so clinical about every little thing and how she analyzes everything was strange, especially when it surfaces during their first sex scene together. I'm sorry for everyone who loved their dynamic at this point, but it takes the passion right out of the moment when the heroine is spouting sexual statistics and screeching at him afterwards about how he tricked her into touching the dirty mattress. And then she frantically rushed off to shower herself from the contamination was weird!! Sorry! And then there was the way she was so unattached and uncaring about him killing people right in front of her. And before you come after me with your torches and pitchforks, please understand that I know that this is the effect of Naomi's developmental disorder. But can you blame me for feeling at odds with thoughts like these?

I know he's a sociopath. I don't care. We all have our issues. But he's my sociopath, and as long as he doesn't hurt me or my family, or make me feel like less, he'll be mine and I'll be his.

And this was where I was at for about half of the book. My difficulties aside, however, I get that they are the perfect match for each other.

Neither like to be touched or enjoyed sex in the past.
Neither are emotional or soft.
Neither are understood by people or have any desire to become attached to anyone, let alone fall in love.

What I liked about them was the fact that they accepted one another for who they really were and their mutual respect and attraction felt natural and genuine.

They are extremely blunt and honest with one another from the very beginning and that is something that they both need and value. But again, it was odd. I'm not going to lie. At the same time though, I found myself chuckling at some of the things they would both say. So it left me feeling very conflicted. As the book wore on, in the end, they won me over. This book isn't a soft, fluffy, easy read. The characters are immoral, remorseless, and not ones that you can identify with or relate to. But there are moments when you see their humanity and vulnerabilities peek through, and it makes you believe in them as a couple that is meant for one another. The way she stands behind him so strongly, and how he accepts her idiosyncrasies unconditionally felt like a love at it's most basic and honest and that in itself is a beautiful thing.

My 3.5 star rating by no means translates that I thought that this was bad or even average, it was just a matter of personal taste over my feelings about the characters for the first part of the book. It took me a while to warm up to these two, but I did like them. I just didn't love them. If I were to rate this book on the writing and the quality of the plotted story, it would easily be a 5 star. The characters were solid, and the pace was fast flowing. These are two talented authors that have a permanent place on my auto-buy list. If you're looking for a mafia book with a very unique story and characters, I would highly recommend this one.


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