Skin Game by Ava Gray
Available: Nov. 3, 2009
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley (November 3, 2009)
A beautiful fugitive—wanted dead or alive.
Kyra is a con woman and a particular kind of thief. She steals with a touch, but she only takes one thing: her target’s strongest skill. Which means she can be a fighter, an athlete, a musician, an artist—anything she wants… for a limited time. Heartbroken, she turns her gift toward avenging her father’s murder; with deadly patience, Kyra works her way into casino owner Gerard Serrano’s inner circle. After pulling off the ultimate con, she flees with his money and his pride.
A hit man who never misses the mark.
Reyes has nothing but his work. Pity for Kyra, he’s the best and mercy never sways him once he takes a job. He’s been hired to find out where Kyra hid the cash—and bring her back to face Serrano’s “justice.” Dead will do, if he can’t locate the loot. He’s never failed to complete a contract, but Kyra tempts him with her fierce heat and her outlaw heart. So Reyes has a hell of a choice: forsake his word or kill the woman he might love.
Kyra is a con and a thief, but not in the usual sense. She possesses a unique supernatural ability that allows her to steal her mark’s best abilities for a period of time simply by touching them. She then uses the marks own talents to take their money. Bent on avenging her father’s death, she seduces Gerard Serrano, the casino owner responsible for killing him. Not only does she manage to get him to fall in love with her but she steals a fortune in cash, and publicly humiliates him in the process. In turn, Serrano hires a hit man to find her, find the money, and bring her back, dead or alive.
Reyes is a hit man who always finishes the job. His professional reputation is everything to him and he’ll stop at nothing to complete his contract. He is also the tall, dark and broody type with a side of ruggedly sexy, and he wants Kyra in more ways than one. When he begins to have feelings for her, he realizes completing this job may more difficult than he thought. In fact it may be impossible.
From the moment they meet, Kyra and Reyes’ chemistry heats up and holds tight throughout the book. Ava Gray creates incredible sexual energy and an amazing love story that keeps the reader on edge and sometimes fearful that Reyes just might follow through in his intention to kill Kyra to fulfill his contract–in love or not.
She curled into him, arm across his waist. It wasn’t that he wanted to screw her again – although he did – it was that he simply craved her closeness. He wanted to lie with her in the half-light and listen to her breath, inhaling her scent.
It was totally fucked up. Now he could only see one way to end her, assuming he wanted to complete his job. He’d cup her head in his hands, bestow one final kiss, and then twist. Clean. Fast. She wouldn’t feel much pain. Contrary to what he’d thought before, it had to be up close and personal, however great his distaste.
He didn’t want to, but he’d taken money for this job. He couldn’t throw away years of work, establishing himself as the go-to man, who always got the job done. He couldn’t walk away from this job with his reputation intact; Foster would see to that.
Let’s talk about Foster for a minute. He is Addison Foster, head of security to Casino owner Gerard Serrano. At his introduction we meet a man who is cold, calculated and whose behavior is designed to make those around him take a step back in his presence. As a secondary character he is superb. Never the main focus but a still character that commands attention and leaves the reader with lingering doubts as to his true nature.
Skin Game is not your typical paranormal romance. The only obvious paranormal twist to the story is in Kyra’s ability to steal personal skills from people. The focus is more on relationships, action and suspense. However, being the paranormal romance fan that I am, I wanted to know more about the origin of Kyra’s power. Growing up, Kyra’s father seemed to be more inclined to exploit her power rather than suppress it, which leaves me to wonder if her paranormal ability was not an anomaly but something he had dealt with before. Perhaps it’s genetic and something he knew about before Kyra inherited it? Since this is first in a series I’m hoping there will be some answers to come.
Ava Gray brings it with Skin Game! It’s fast paced, exciting, at times violent, and super sexy. She has created powerful enticing characters, interesting relationships and intriguing secondary characters that will leave you wanting more…NOW!
Visit Ava Gray’s website for excerpts and information on future books in the series.
Special thanks to Mandi at SmexyBooks.com for generously lending me her copy of Skin Game.