Review: Last Kiss by Jessica Clare and Jen Frederick

Paperback: 384 pages***
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Source of my copy: publisher
Series: Hitman #3
Synopsis
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 forever...no 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.



I didn't even get to the halfway point of Last Kiss** and I was already ordering the first two books in the series. Yep, that good.

Characters. It's not mentioned in the synopsis but Naomi has Asperger. Her thought patterns are different, the way she acts and speaks is different, she has a few atypical idiosyncrasies (for example, she avoids eye contact, she hates being touched, a germaphobe, etc.) and she prefers the company of computers (she's a computer hacking genius) than people. I didn't connect to her character at first but she grew on me. She's endearing in her own way and I enjoyed reading her chapters a lot since she offers a different perspective.

Though he does not have Asperger's like Naomi, Vasily also had his idiosyncrasies. This guy is a very gray character and leans more towards the dangerous side. He has his own set of principles and he doesn't flinch pulling the trigger. Granted, the people he killed were trying to kill him, but you don't want to meet this guy in a dark alley. Like Naomi, he grew on me. He'll never be on my list of swoon-worthy heroes and book boyfriends, but the way he cared for Naomi and didn't see her as anything but a woman was so sweet and wonderful.

Romance. I love Naomi and Vasily. Both are unlike any romance novel hero and heroine I've come across before. Both are so interesting on their own and together they are well-matched. They are not easy people to get along with, you know, because they both have their own quirks. But they just work. The sex scenes are on the steamier side so you might want a cold drink next to you when reading.

Setting. I loved that the setting didn't stay in one place. We went from Russia to Brazil to Italy then to Russia again. Like, you know sometimes a book is set in Europe somewhere but it still feels like Any-City, USA? Not in Last Kiss. I actually kind of got a feel for all the countries Naomi and Vasily traveled to. Oh, and in pursuit of the artifact they were looking for, Vasily and Naomi went to some very interesting, sometimes cringe-worthy [underground sex clubs] places.

Writing. I love the writing in Last Kiss. I'm not surprised because I've read books by Jen Frederick before and she's a really good writer and can write some very, very smexy scenes (see Losing Control). I haven't read anything by Jessica Clare, though I'm planning to check out some of her solo works soon. The writing is so seamless that you cannot tell it's by two authors. They did such a great job with everything: the characters (main and secondary), setting, romance, dialogue, and the pacing--I was riveted and engaged the whole time.

Final thoughts. I'm trying to think of something to compare Last Kiss to and one that I can come up with is dark mint chocolate. Last Kiss is like delicious dark mint chocolate. Naomi and Vasily are not your typical romance heroine and hero, their world is dark and dangerous and they got into some crazy, dangerous situations in the dark underbelly of Russia, Brazil and Italy but there were also moments humor, banter and fun. I thoroughly enjoyed Last Kiss and I am very much looking forward to reading the first two companion books in the series. I highly recommend Last Kiss for readers who love dark, steamy, well-written romances.


**Last Kiss is the third book in the Hitman series but it is a standalone novel. It can be read and enjoyed without reading the first two books in the series.

***The paperback edition of Last Kiss includes a short bonus story about Nikolai and Daisy from Last Hit (book 1).

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