The Highwayman was one of my favorite books of 2015, and it left me more than a little excited to see what Kerrigan Byrne would do with the second book in the series. As I started this story, I was immediately gripped by the wrenching prologue that shed light on the foundation of our hero’s horrific life. It was every bit as heartwrenching as Dorian’s was, but without the memory of Farah to sustain him. I was hooked, only to drift a little in the following chapters.
You see, Christopher is an assassin. That’s ok, but to be clear, he’s not a vigilante. He’s not ridding the world of bad guys. He just kills for money. And he is really good at it. In fact, as the story begins, he has been hired to kill the heroine. Which, again, isn’t a deal breaker, because you know he’s not going to go through with it (or this wouldn’t be much of a romance.) But two things did happen which dimmed my glow out of the gate. One, he is struck by an epic insta-lust which sustains no logic. And two, he only agrees to let her live if she sleeps with him.
That would be bad enough, but I have issues with dubious consent. But this is a hero who watched his mom get gang raped and killed as a child. It defies explanation that he would be ok with this. Fortunately, he turns it around.
Our heroine is a beautiful actress named Millie. Her young son is her life, so when Christopher tells her that she’s marked for death and her son for kidnapping, she is willing to do whatever it takes to keep them both safe. It helps that she is deeply attracted to Christopher, and he doesn’t only abstain from killing her, he becomes her protector. The more time she spends with him, the more she sees the fire behind his icy veneer. And what began as a barter, turns into something much more.
I love tortured heroes and Christopher definitely is that. But where he really got to me was in his vulnerable moments. When he hated himself for maneuvering himself into Millie’s bed. When he felt incapable of love. When he revealed the contents of his dreams. When he saw himself in Millie’s son. Those were the parts of the book that wrapped themselves around me. Those were the parts that reminded me the first book. And speaking of which, Dorian and Faye are here. I loved seeing these two again. It was just enough to be relevant to the story without stealing the spotlight from Christoper and Millie.
These two fought their attraction so hard, for reasons that made so much sense. But it was so satisfying to see them fail. They were sexy together, but also poignant. They turned up the heat, to be sure, but just as importantly, they made me care about them. They made me completely invested in their happy ending.
The murder-mystery kept the plot moving, and it was ok. I figured out the villain early on. But honestly, that was all just the backdrop for the romance… which by halfway in to the book, I was totally sold on.
Not entirely as great for me as The Highwayman, but it gave me good feels, and in the end, was quite good, Bring on The Highlander.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Kerrigan Byrne
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin’s