Thursday, 11 March 2010

Skin Game by Ava Gray

I absolutely loved this story. From chapter 2 onwards. Can you believe it?

It's the story of a romance between an grifter and a killer for hire. You would think that both these types were much too cynical to, ahem, 'fall in love' but that is exactly what happens. And I totally believed in the romance as it unfolded. Because when either one of the main couple, Kyra Marie and Reyes feels rejected or ignored by the other, they feel miserable and want to cry. I even accepted the totally ridiculous paranormal thread that runs throughout the novel. Can you believe at a couple of points in the story I had to take a tea-break because the tension was getting to me! There are of course secondary characters, Foster and Mia and I was even interested in how they were doing. I thought the bad guy, Serrano was a nasty piece of work. Yes. There's a lot of shooting and killing in the story. But it doesn't happen to innocent bystanders...just criminals.

Much of the novel is basically a road trip where the main couple learn stuff about each other...even though neither is exactly the talkative type. Get this. The hero, Reyes, like Kade in Shades of Midnight, also has some issues with a deadbeat Dad. But he has worked through them in an entirely realistic way. Kyra on the other hand still looks at her own crappy father with rose-tinted glasses. But at the end of the novel even she consciously lets go of the ties she still had to her life with her Dad. Reyes talked about 'Dad's who put their own pleasure before the welfare of their kids.' I loved all that. (Mainly because I see many Moms who do exactly the same thing.) And then there's a throwaway line about the 'Pretty Woman' movie. Condemning it for making prostitution seem like a fairy-tale. I loved that too.

Geez. The heroine, Kyra. Has. Never. Been. To. School. I absolutely loved her character and attitude. Geez. She actually read through much of 'A Hundred Years of Solitude.' I also loved how she treats Reyes once she discovers he's been lying his head off to her. Make no mistake though. Everyone in the novel. Has Money.

What didn't ring true was how she was going to trust her millions to her friend Mia. I was also quite amazed how much killing Kyra does without any kind of hesitation.

tbh. There were some gaping plot holes. I didn't really understand why Serrano took Snow to Switzerland, killed him, and then think no-one would suspect him. Also. I didn't really understand how Kyra relieved Serrano of all that money. She said she only did one-night stands; does that mean she had a non-biblical relationship with Serrano. Is that really likely?

btw. I suspected I would like this story as I read the scene where Kyra checks into a dive motel and examines the water jug for signs of meth cooking. I just love cool refs in contemporary romances.

Best read of the year so far.

p.s. I have now read some of the other reviews of this novel. One of the reasons I am not bothered by Kyra's and Reye's moral justifications of who they victimise is that, well, they are both hardened criminals. Their real mantra, which is also touched upon in the novel, is 'Dont Get Caught.' Everything else is just padding to keep up their self-esteem which is basically what you need when you do what they do and have the crappy upbringings they both had. New readers might like to know that Kyra literally stomps Serrano to death. And Reyes doesn't bat an eyelid...her actions absolutely do not even register on his moral compass.

It goes without saying that I have never met people like Kyra and Reyes. But I have met many people who just think (and behave) differently from the norm. You just have to accept them for what they are. Non-criminals. If either Kyra or Reyes ever appeared in court. You just know it would (deservedly) be LWOP for both. Minimum. But the story isn't about reality. Anyway, I liked the tableau it presented of criminals killing other criminals and cheating other bullies. Far far better than the morals on view in Stephanie Rowe's Chill; where criminals saying 'sorry' is acceptable when innocent people have been hurt.

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