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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Kiss at Your Own Risk by Stephanie Rowe

Kiss at Your Own Risk by Stephanie Rowe
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (389 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

He needed a killer woman...

Blaine Underhill is one lucky man after having recently escaped a century and a half of imprisonment at the hands of an evil witch. Now he’s determined to save his still-enslaved friend, but in order to do so, he’ll need the help of one of the world’s most lethal women.
She was drop dead gorgeous, literally...

Trinity Harpswell is sick and tired of being a Black Widow. Having managed to go three years without accidentally killing anyone she loves, she’s one short week away from freeing herself from this killer curse forever.

When Blaine tracks her down and convinces her to help him, little does Trinity know that the next seven days are going to be murder!

Read this book if you crave something different, crazy, amazing, funny and totally not your average stereotypical romance. Kiss at Your Own Risk simply blew my mind with its off the wall humor, bizarre and astounding world building and a pace that kept me goggle-eyed.

With this story, Ms. Rowe has fried my neurons because I have no clue how she kept such an intricate, diabolical and convoluted story thread from exploding into chaos. Where do I even start?

Trinity, the heroine, is the most likely place to start. Her life is complicated. I mean totally and completely off the scale complicated. The poor woman can’t ever hope to have a normal married life because something happened to her when she was a baby that changed the course of her life. And oh, didn’t I get a big shocker about that later in the book. Just wait until readers get a load of that revelation. In the meantime I got to meet Trinity’s friend, Reina. She’s a friend only a black widow could have and love. That kind of friendship was a stroke of genius on Ms. Rowe’s part because it in itself is tricky. It’s all in who you know and Trinity is surrounded by some really freaky characters that will a delight a reader who appreciates a vivid imagination. This author delivers that in spades.

Trinity has some well documented conflicts that absolutely keep a reader interested. How in the world can she possibly ever have a happily ever after if every guy meets his demise? Sure puts a damper on her love life and yet, Ms. Rowe found the answer. It’s unconventional, a bit morbid and totally perfect for this story. It’s so twisted, it’s funny.

Blaine is one hot hunk of a guy. Until I read the book through, I didn’t realize how true that dishy adjective would be. He’s also been tortured in inventive, creative and truly demented ways and yet his mind and strength of character and will has survived. He also does a mean cross-stitch. Sounds funny doesn’t it? He’s this big macho warrior with skills the military would envy and yet he has these moments where he says things out loud that simply mortified him. Of course, that had me laughing out loud and snickering because the dichotomy was simply genius. Blaine is also tortured from within with issues of trust and abandonment. In fact there’s a heartfelt revelation with a righteous dark turn that has the last shattered shard of his heart healing which helped make the happily ever after that much more poignant. Blaine is complicated too. And a reader can see that the torture after all those years did break him in a way, but it remade him too and that added incredible depth to his character. It also added some very interesting talents far beyond the powers of mortal men. Go Blaine!

As for villains, there is more than one. The guy who smelled like bananas grossed me out. And here’s the thing that threw me. Ms. Rowe tells the story from three people’s point of view – Blaine’s, Trinity’s and the villainous treacherous witch, Angelica. Here’s where I really got bowled over. At first I did what the author intended – I disliked the evil witch who has done some really bad things to Blaine and his buddies. Then the author pulled the rug out from under me and actually had me liking Angelica in a really macabre moment of genius mind play. How in the world can I possibly feel sympathy for a character that is totally without mercy? And yet I did, but by the same token I wanted her dead. How weird is that? Honestly, I never knew which way this book was going to go and it kept me on my toes trying to second guess the author. I never succeeded.

The happily ever after is unique to this story and it works for both Blaine and Trinity. It’s romantic, happy, and true to the characters and very well done.

Kiss at Your Own Risk is hands-down the most highly energetic romance adventure I’ve ever read with twists and turns a roller coaster would envy. Did I forget to mention the dangerous Schnoodles? I had to re-read that twice when I first came upon it and even after reading this book I still dissolve into horrified giggles. Truly, where in the world did Ms. Rowe come up with such fiendish delights? I have to give this story a Best Book because the sheer scope of the world building, creative characters and the fact that I really do want to read about Blaine’s three companions has me thinking beyond this one tale. Whoever’s story the author comes out with next, Nigel, or Jarvis or poor Christian, will be an auto-buy for me. It has to be. If the quality of writing is as good as what’s in Kiss at Your Own Risk then it will be money well spent. I am a very satisfied reader. Thank you, Ms. Rowe for a reading experience that truly was extraordinary.