Last Breath (Hitman #2)
Author: Jessica Clare & Jen Frederick
Release Date: 24 March 2014
Publisher: Pear Tree LLC
I never really knew what misery was until the day I was kidnapped and sold for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Two months later, I'm at a brothel in Rio when I meet Daniel Hays. He says he's here to save me, but can I trust him? All I know of him are his sarcastic retorts and his tendency to solve every dispute with his gun. He's also the only safe thing in my world, and I know it's wrong to fall in love with him, but I can't seem to help myself. He says he’ll protect me until his last breath but I don’t know if I should believe him or even if I can.
For the last eighteen months, I’ve had one goal: to find my kidnapped sister. I’ve left the Army, turned paid hit man, and have befriended criminals all across the globe. In every brothel I raid or every human trafficking truck I stop, her face is the one I’m desperate to see. In Rio, I find Regan Porter, bruised but not broken and still sane despite her weeks in hell. I should leave her behind or send her home because the last thing either of us needs is to get involved. But with every passing minute, I find I can’t let her go.
She’s a biter. That’s the warning given when I point to the blonde with the glazed green eyes in Senhor Gomes’ book of whores. He shakes his head and says that he has access to dozens of others that are better and all willing to engage in whatever perverse activity I want. He brags that there isn’t a sick sex act I can think of that Gomes can’t fulfill. I like home cooking, I tell him. A Texan in Rio sees a lot of beautiful Brazilian women, but sometimes you want a little star-spangled banner in the rotation.
He nods as if this makes sense to him, but I think it’s the money that I’m flashing that he understands. We walk up to the second floor and down a narrow hall toward the back, a windowless part of this brick and metal building. I can’t call it a home or even a brothel. It’s a dingy place where men with deep perversions but shallow wallets can get their rocks off.
I don’t want to have sex here, I’ve explained to Gomes. I have a thing against hellholes and having sex in them. I wave around a lot of cash, and Gomes nodded and asks no more questions.
We’re a strange parade—Gomes, me, and some house mom trailing behind. He stops at the second to last door and removes a key.
I’ve seen pictures of Regan Porter before, and not in Gomes’ look book, but nothing prepares me for her full-fledged, magazine-quality beauty. She hasn’t been eating well; her delicate bones are beginning to look sharp in places—at her shoulders, ribs, and hips. But there’s no denying her breathtaking looks. Her blonde hair is damp and small strands stick to her perfect skull. Her oval face, with its pink cheekbones and lush lips and eyebrows that look like wings, stands out like a piece of fine china at a flea market. Though she’s thin, there’s a delicious curviness in the slope of her side as it dips into the waist and flares back out to form a cuppable roundness at the hip. And those endlessly long legs.
Shit. I close my eyes and swallow. No decent man would be standing here thinking about those legs wrapped around his waist. But then again, I’m not decent. I’m no longer army sniper, Special Forces Daniel Hays who may have once been lauded as a hero for killing insurgents in Afghanistan. Now I’m Daniel Hays, mercenary who kills people for money and spends all his spare time in brothels and flesh dens like this one. Decency is a word I don’t even know the meaning to anymore.
It’s been too long since I’ve had a woman. That’s my only excuse. That and I’m becoming the monster that I’m hunting. I focus on the bruises on her knees that are scraped red and raw from time on the floor and the manacle around her ankle. Any feelings of arousal are jettisoned by the obvious signs of abuse.
Glancing sharply at Gomes, I wonder how he’s come to possess a beauty like Regan Porter. Gomes is a small-time flesh peddler, stuck up here in the slums, with a house full of females—half of which are missing their teeth or are too old or too broken.
He usually gets what the market calls second-hand goods, the girls that no other house wants. But Regan Porter is gorgeous, and while she looks a little rundown, she’s still model beautiful with big pink lips and wide green eyes.
“Nice tits,” I smirk for Gomes’ sake and her shudder of disgust only feeds into my growing belief that I’m as dirty as the flesh trader beside me. The dark edges of the world that I now inhabit are seeping into my skin like an oil slick covering an ocean. I shouldn’t want to touch her. And if I have to fuck her in front of Gomes to get her out of here—I don’t even let myself finish that thought.
There’s still life in her eyes. If she’s biting and spitting out acerbic insults, there’s spirit left in her, and I don’t want to be the one to snuff out that last flame. Her eyes convey her hate, and if she had a knife, I’d be sliced from my throat to my belly. I stare back, not because she’s fucking beautiful, but because she’s still standing. I’m not sure I would’ve been as strong. I don’t know if she sees my admiration or whether she can only interpret varying degrees of lust and degradation, but she sees something. An invisible string spools out between us and her eyes widen when it hits her like an electrical shock.
For months I’ve swum in a pool of blood and death and ugly deeds, and to hold onto my sanity and maybe my soul, I’ve told myself that saving these doves balances the scale. For every life I take, if I save one then it’s all a wash in the end. Don’t think it’s tallied that way at St. Peter’s Gate, but that’s the lie I tell myself so I can sleep at night and look at myself in the mirror the next day. Regan Porter will either be part of my attempt at salvation or the bloody stone that etches out the words He Failed on my headstone.
Regan has been through hell, fairly literally. She was abducted when some Russian mafia types were looking for her friend Daisy, and then she was raped and sold into a brothel in Brazil. Despite all of this, Regan is a fighter. She refuses to give the sick perverts who visit the whorehouse what they want. I loved Regan's fighting spirit, she's brave and feisty even when her world crumbles around her. The strength of her spirit shines through the whole book.
I love Daniel as well. I loved him in Last Hit and I love him even more now. He's deadly and determined, but he doesn't want to be a part of this dark, dangerous world. He's searching for his sister, and is also looking for Regan as a favour to Nick and Daisy. When he meets Regan, he tries so hard to bury his attraction to her because of all she's been through. He gives her the patience and safety she needs.
I thought Daniel and Regan were great together. They have a palpable sexual chemistry which turns into a passionate and intense love as trust grows between them. My problem though, was how quickly Regan and Daniel were...intimate. She's been raped and abused for the last two months and then after a few days (I think) she was feeling ready for that...I just struggled with that a bit. They're in an intense and dangerous situation, and I guess the trust Regan has for Daniel is very strong because of all the danger they're in. Despite my doubts about the speed they moved, I loved the connection they had. Daniel makes her feel safe and he can also understand some of what she has been through.
The action and fast pace of the plot had me on edge through most of the book. It's dark and there's lots of elements of the story that aren't pretty, but it's absorbing and a great continuation of the series. It works well as a stand alone as well, although I'd definitely recommend reading Last Hit because it's great! I'm very, very intrigued about the next book which will be about Vasily and Naomi (Daniel's sister). It's not a pairing I saw coming and I'm very interested to see what their story will be like.
*I received a review copy for my honest opinion. Thank you!
About the Authors
Jen Frederick lives with her husband, child, and one rambunctious dog. She's been reading stories all her life but never imagined writing one of her own. Jen loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a pen name for Jill Myles.
Jill Myles has been an incurable romantic since childhood. She reads all the 'naughty parts' of books first, looks for a dirty joke in just about everything, and thinks to this day that the Little House on the Prairie books should have been steamier.
After devouring hundreds of paperback romances, mythology books, and archaeological tomes, she decided to write a few books of her own - stories with a wild adventure, sharp banter, and lots of super-sexy situations. She prefers her heroes alpha and half-dressed, her heroines witty, and she loves nothing more than watching them overcome adversity to fall into bed together.
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
GiveawayRookie Romance has 2 e-copies of Last Breath to give away, but be quick because the giveaway will be over quickly. Also, it's important that the winners respond to my emails within 24 hours otherwise I won't have time to submit the winner's details!
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