Love Kills Twice – Rien Gray

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.
I was really surprised as to just how much I enjoyed this storyline. At first glance from the blurb I thought I’d enjoy another character on the outskirts of right and wrong (in this case, very wrong) but I was genuinely surprised just how much Gray hooked me into liking this premise.

The story centres on an assassin – Campbell – who has been hired by both a husband and wife to kill each other. The point of view in the book alternates between Campbell and Justine – the wife.

Whilst Justine is an interesting character, and the reasons for the hiring are explored in depth, Campbell is the interesting and intriguing part of the whole narrative for me. I’m keen for more non-binary characters and whilst Campbell is clearly deliberately kept a bit of a mystery to add to the intrigue there was enough here to make things really compelling.

The chemistry between the two of them is very hot, including some light BDSM and breath play.

I liked the addition of the lawyer character so Campbell doesn’t seem so completely out there, and the small glimpses into their past help with seeing why Justine could fall for them. I’m definitely hoping that we get to past more of the mystery surrounding Campbell in the second book.

The storyline does end quite abruptly, but the length of the novella/novel kept the writing really tight and I think it would have felt quite strange to have gone from where we end to the next step. The next part is due later in the year and I’m definitely looking forward to it.

If you’re fond of characters on the moral edge there’s a lot here to enjoy.

As you’d expect from the topic there are some potential triggers and the publisher has these labelled really well, including some past military trauma and some off page domestic abuse.

This does appear to be the first main published work from Gray, but there is mention of other work which I’m definitely eager to find now!

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Becoming Human – Holly Grey

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Fantasy books aren’t normally my thing, but I’m determined to continue branching out and this piqued my interest. It’s a very sweet book with lots of fantasy elements threaded through human interactions, good and bad.

Jack is called into acton protecting Marin, an animal in human form on a month long road trip to deliver Marin safely to a meeting of leaders. Marin is described as the most important leader in the world, and essentially the story tells both their journey in literal terms as they try to stay safe, and their journey in getting to know each other in the strangest of circumstances.

I loved all the interactions with things humans consider to be normality and Marin learning about them. This brought both some sweet and humorous moments. The book has its violent moments, but because they are enmeshed in the fantasy world they didn’t read as particularly harrowing to me, but it is something to be aware of.

There isn’t much romance in the book, it’s very slow burn. It’s more day to day interactions, sweet conversations and how they protect each other from the world.

I liked how all of the secondary characters were written. They were well placed, either to complement the road trip protection aspect, enhance us getting to know Marin and where she is from, or to appreciate Jack’s past.

I found the ending to be a little underwhelming, but I can understand why it was done like this. I still had many questions and would just have liked an extra chapter or two to finish things off.

I can’t really comment as to how this compares to other fantasy books, but I really appreciated the writing and enjoyed the narrative. I’d recommend to anyone who enjoys queer fantasy stories.

I received an e-ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.