20 October 2009

ARC Review: Ava Gray - Skin Game

~click here to buy a copy~
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Berkley (November 3, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0425231534
ISBN-13: 978-0425231531

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Main characters: Kyra Marie Beckwith & Reyes
Origin: ARC won on author's blog.

Cover Summary:

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 Marie Beckwith has been a con artist for as long as she can remember and she is good at it, very good. So when her father dies at the hand of a very powerful man she burns for revenge, and she gets it, big time. Only, to ruffle the feathers of a powerful man such as Gerard Serrano means he wants back what he considers his, and restore his pride at the same time.

To get what he wants Serrano hires the best man for the job to hunt her down, get his assets back, and bring Kyra along for him to deal with. The best man for that job is Porfirio Ten-Bears Reyes, a.k.a. Reyes, and he catches up with Kyra as she pulls a con in a small town bar. From there a road trip commences that becomes more dangerous with each passing day. Danger is something Reyes is used to dealing with, feeling increasingly more torn between his budding attraction for Kyra and his highly valued work ethics however is something new to him.

I heard many raving voices about the novels of Ava Gray’s alter ego; Ann Aguirre, and after a while I still had not read any of her work. It was the moment where I read a blogpost on this author’s blog that I took my chances in winning an ARC of Skin Game. I entered, and lo and behold I was one of the winners. I lost my Ava Gray cherry to the story of Kyra and Reyes and I am slowly descending from a romance high. Not only did she court me as a reader with well paced action, storytelling and sultry sensuality. Ava Gray introduced me to a set of characters who had me at their hello.

The instant Kyra and Reyes meet it is spontaneous combustion between them which doesn’t diminish in any way, shape or form throughout the story. There are some wonderful opposites; he is a health nut and she needs her junk food, he has learned his skills, she steals them from others. There are also some similarities, they both like rough love between the bed sheets, they are both very good in what they do and both do it for reasons that meet their own moral standards. From the get-go their personalities grabbed my attention, I instantly liked them and I just loved the quirks that went with these two.

If there is one thing I learned from my first experience with Ava Gray’s work it is that she is an author who knows how to bring compelling characters to life. It is a certain elemental magnetism emanating from the characters, whether friend or foe, that captivates me. The way they live, love, feel, fight, work through their inner turmoil’s, it all enriches and works with the other elements in this novel. The romance is what ensnared me so in Skin Game. Gray gave me such an in-depth portrayal of both Kyra and Reyes that I understood both their emotional triggers for their individual decisions.

Kyra is a bit paranoia at times, she is also fierce, sensual, intelligent, a bit pragmatic and comfortable in her own skin with her ability, though it often also has less desirable side effects. Reyes is lethally dangerous, virile, skilled, commanding, keeps himself unattached and is not expecting anything from anyone. Together they make the verbal sparring and body language sizzle through the pages and such a pleasure to read. At times their passion and feelings were raw and demanding and at other times it was caring and gentle and I just gobbled it up like it was my next Ben and Jerry’s fix.

I was immersed in their romance and for quite a while it felt the suspense factor was in a supportive role and almost subservient to the character/romance development of Reyes and Kyra. I got to meet Gerard Serrano who fills the bill for an unforgiving and cruel enemy and if there was one secondary character who profiled himself in Skin Game then it was Addison Foster. I still remember the page where all my red flags went up in utter want of finding out more about this character. He is neither fully good or bad but in a grey area that keeps me on edge what he will do. With highly intriguing aspects regarding Foster, Ava Gray created a man who has all the right character traits to become quite the dark tormented hero.

After a well paced build up of first time encounters, revealing conversations, passion, and growing trust something happens that shot my feelings straight in to a range of shock and raw intensity. From there the suspense had twists and turns and I almost got to feel pity for Serrano…almost. The only thing that had me puzzled at times was the paranormal factor in this book, because save from Kyra’s ability there is not much paranormal to be found. Okay two things had me puzzled; I also would’ve liked an explanation in how Kyra’s ability was canceled out with a certain person, now it just appears to be a convenient solution. Upon closing Skin Game I noticed I read this novel in the blink of an eye and this is largely due to Ava Gray’s writing style which effortlessly held my attention. An easy flowing style yet fraught with all the rich emotions from the characters and a good dose of suspense from the plot.

Ava Gray wined and dined me with the best elements I love in a novel; beguiling but flawed characters, high-voltage sensuality, great dialogues and a suspense that held my attention from cover to cover. Skin Game was an exhilarating way for me to lose my Ava Gray cherry!

Quote describing Reyes:

She’d remember a face like this, hard angles softened by a spill of midnight hair, and eyes so dark they seemed to drink the light – black pool’s with azure lightning in their depths. He had skin like old mahogany, weathered but lovely.

Quote Reyes:

“I disagree with Sartre, though. Hell is not other people. Hell is you, me, a romantic sky…and no condom.”

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  1. Sounds good, I do like her style so I am wondering about this one.
    Great review Leontine :)

  2. I didn't read the summary of the review - because every since I saw the cover I knew I MUST read this book..

    But I love your thoughts on it - It nice when secondary characters make such an impact and the good/bad situation -just Yum....

    Cant wait to read it...

    I will be back once I have read it...


  3. @Blodeuedd - I can't compare it yet to her Ann Aguirre novels but Will have one in my November book basket :)

    @EroticHorizon - yeah the cover is erm...hawt, very hawt. But so are Reyes and Kyra together. I love their chemistry together...couldn't get enough of it!

  4. Great review!!! This was a hot romance! I liked that the the PN aspect was small..made it different. Now I am trying to think if we ever find out why that "something" was canceled? hmmmm

    Are you ready to move on to Grimspace and Blue Diablo now? :)

  5. @Mandi - Perhaps it will forever remain a mystery...*looks at Ava Gray* If you look in my darkest corners of my heart there is a curious person there who really wants to know :D

    And yes...I have ordered Blue Diablo and will order Grimspace in the future. I instantly got all hot bells going off with reading this blurb:

    Corine Solomon is a handler - when she touches an object she instantly knows its history and its future. Using her ability, she can find the missing - which is why people never stop trying to find her. Like her ex-boyfriend Chance, who needs Corine's gift to find someone dear to them both. But the search proves dangerous as it leads them into a strange world of demons and sorcerers, ghosts and witchcraft, zombies - and black magic...

  6. I'm definitely going to be reading this one! Great review :)

  7. Leontine, you sure do know how to keep my debit card on the run!!!!! I love the sound of this book! Very interesting and intriguing! And the cover is very hawt!!!!Wow!
    Will be looking for this one as well! I hope you had a great night... and terrific morning and a wonderful day!

  8. @Stacy - I know you're going to enjoy yourself with Kyra and Reyes :D

    @Cecile - the debet card is still not back *damn* can I lure it with a promise I'll behave in the future *scouts honor* mwuuaaahhahahaha

  9. Skin Game is a book that doesn't hold any punches.

    Not sure about Foster though. He rubbed me the wrong way. But it will be interesting to see what Gray does with him in the next book.

  10. I've not read any of this author's work but it sounds really good. Thanks for the review.

  11. You are sooo evil!!! LOL!!! But I love ya anyway!!! I may just have to sell my blood for cash, I know a couple of hot vampires that might want some, lmao!!!
    Maybe if I bribe it with a date with the atm machine it might come home!!!

  12. I learn something new every time I stop by - no clue that Ava Gray was Ann Aguirre. I'm a recent reader of Ann Aguirre's Sci-fi series, which I xoxoxoxo. The title alone would make me want to go out and buy this bk. Great Review!!!

  13. Looks like a wonderful read. Can't wait to dig into this one. I won an ARC over at Dear Author. Yay!

    Thanks for the beautiful review. :)

  14. @KB - Foster really intrigued me with certain actions on his side and I'll defintely be on the look out for Skin Tight :)

    @Tracy - I have not regretted my chance on Ava Gray and have progressed on to her alter ego's work.

    @Cecile - Sometimes I cannot hide my devil hornette's LOL

    @smokinhotbooks - I look forward to reading Blue Diable, the blurb instantly caught my attention!

    @Donna - woohoo, go you for winning and enjoy the read!!

  15. I have heard of Ann Aguirre but not read any of her books. I'm going to check out Ava first, thanks to yours and Smexy's reviews of this book! :)

  16. Thanks for the review! I think I want to read this one.


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