Dane has one mission; kill. His latest hit isn’t so simple, though. This time there’s a witness and in Dane’s world witnesses cannot exist. Scared and vulnerable, Abby evokes a need within Dane, a need to protect. When his boss orders her death, Dane knows he must defy orders and be the man she needs him to be.
I’m having a short break from paranormal romance (and by short I mean, like, a week). I decided to read two types of book during this time: a non-romance read (Neil Gaiman’s Unnatural Creatures) and a conventional romance…
…and by ‘conventional’, I of course mean a ‘bad boy mafia romance’. That’s conventional, right? Most relationships begin with your significant other slaughtering a person before your very eyes with piano wire, right? C’mon, don’t look at me like that *pouts* I’ve been single for over a year now, I don’t know anything about dating. Back in my day, it was all about dating apps. My Beautiful Killer kinda led me to believe you all hang out in underground mafia lairs, just waiting for an over-muscled hitman with an unnatural usage of the word ‘fuck’ to bundle you into his arms and steal away with you into the night. You’re telling me that’s not what you do? *sighs* I have a lot to learn it seems. Just when I thought I had this whole dating malarkey sussed *sniffles*
All kidding aside, this is exactly how My Beautiful Killer begins. We’ve got Dane, a hit man on a mission that takes an unexpected turn, and Abby, a 20 year old college student who’s been kidnapped by a rebel faction of the group Dane works for. Dane kills her kidnapper and ‘rescues’ her.
But the line between ‘rescuing’ and ‘taking advantage of a vulnerable young woman’ is beyond blurred. I’m not necessarily criticizing Riley Rollins’ writing style and I can’t pass too much judgment when I haven’t read any of her other books, but there was just so much about Dane that made me uncomfortable.
He’s obviously way older than Abby, having been in the killing business for many years, and I feel he takes advantage of both her inexperience and the predicament in which she finds herself in. I’m not going to divulge specific plot details in case any of you guys want to give it a read, but I want to justify my criticism and I feel I can only do this by highlighting the specific scenes that created this sense of unease within me.
Firstly, Dane takes Abby into the woods after rescuing her because he feels he needs a day or two to come down from the ‘high’ of killing. Okay, he might be concerned about her blabbing so doesn’t necessarily want to take her to a hospital to be checked over. I guess I can excuse that…but then he keeps her in her naked state for what must be more than 12 hours, despite him having spare clothes in his bag (which he eventually gives her). There is literally no reason why he couldn’t have allowed her some dignity. Not only that, he decides she needs bathing (by him, of course) and what follows is this weird scene where he’s wiping down her naked body and lingering in certain places way too long. Oh and he compliments her on her breasts (“You’re beautiful here,” he said exhaling hard, and I could feel his eyes on my breasts before he touched me. I held my breath as he worked in silence, moving my breasts with his bare hand, squeezing the cloth in his other so the water trickled down…”And you like my touch.”) It’s like…give her some dignity, man. She’s vulnerable in so many different ways and, at this point, she’s too frightened to do anything in case he kills her. It seems wrong on so many levels.
There’s also incidents of body shaming, where Dane’s essentially telling Abby that he likes ‘his women’ with something to hold onto and, consequently, decides that she needs fattening up somewhat. He does this by constantly feeding her and Abby goes along with this, despite her mentioning in her narrative that she’s always been naturally thin. Body shaming goes both ways and Abby shouldn’t have to change her natural body to meet the beauty ideals of a man who’s taking advantage of her in such a way.
I feel like the issue is maybe with me because My Beautiful Killer is rated quite highly on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t know. I just didn’t enjoy this book. I’m happy that Riley Rollins has attracted a large fanbase because it’s always nice to have people enjoy and appreciate your writing. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people. Maybe I should try another of her books sometime. I felt like this after reading Kresley Cole’s A Hunger Like No Other, but the books that followed were thoroughly enjoyable reads.
Song: Iron Maiden’s The Mercenary
My Beautiful Killer is available to buy on Amazon in both e-reader and paperback format.