Talk about romancing the gray area where the good guys are bad guys being good by being bad. This is a very interesting concept that Ms. Langlais is exploring in this first novel of her new series and I had a ball reading it. Some authors have a challenging time world-building in the first book of a series while telling a romance story and introducing a bunch of characters that are important or will become important in future books all at the same time. Not so for Ms. Langlais. This was one of the smoothest reveal and entry into a series I’ve read in a while. It felt so natural.
It’s told in third person POV from both Lily’s and Calvin’s perspectives. The author efficiently used the right descriptions of emotions, action, and environments to engage a reader. I could understand Lily’s terror and feelings of being trapped. Calvin is a different story as he’s a man without much feeling, or, at least he wasn’t until he clapped eyes on Lily’s daughter, Zoe. I think her innocence, her instant trust, her smiling nature and bubbly personality simply bowled Calvin over. In a word, Zoe is adorable, and the hero found her impossible to resist. He tried being gruff, grouchy and tough and he said things that initially convinced Lily that was not a nice neighbor, but a reader sees it from his POV – it’s bluster and smoke. I enjoyed watching the hero’s initial discomfort morph into a protective zeal.
Lily’s external conflict comes in the form of her ex-husband, Brock. The conflict for Calvin is mostly internal until Lily’s conflict twists and turns to bisect the hero’s external conflict and they’re both drawn into a situation that is bigger than either of them realize, until it was almost too late. There’s where the suspense and mystery come in to play. The action stems from all the daring-do that Calvin’s role demands of him. At first his involvement is duty, and then it becomes personal. That gradual switch made for some very intense reading.
My frown comes from the heroine doing something stupid, twice. Yes, the author made her own up to it because being in Lily’s head, so to speak, I could understand her choices. They were rash and necessary to stirring the plot pot but still stupid. My very big grin came from the author throwing in little digs and references to another series the author is famous for. I admit to giggling out loud in a very unladylike fashion because I knew EXACTLY what she was talking about.
The interesting thing about Calvin is his line of work – his view on what he does for a living, how he does it and why. It’s the how that is freaky. The author almost makes it causal, la-ti-da and normal when it’s anything but. After what Lily has gone through, her character is ripe for accepting a man like Calvin. The author alludes to it enough times to make that clear.
When Lily and Calvin get more than ‘neighborly’, it’s detailed, hot and sexy. There is no doubt that they are physically compatible.
The final conflict is a doozy. It has drama, suspense, action and the body count keeps going up. With the satisfactory resolving of the immediate mystery in Assassin Next Door Ms. Langlais left one little plot thread dangling which I believe is, or will be, the background story arc. One thing is for sure, the author has effectively garnered my commitment to reading the next book in the series. This is getting good.
Assassin Next Door is full of exciting chills and thrills, grins and gasps and is a delight through and through. This romantic suspense book is an easy recommend because it kept me guessing, entertained and engaged. I enjoyed watching Lily and Calvin come together as an unconventional couple and how the author handled having a young child in the mix. It’s a well written adventure and I can’t wait to visit the folks at Bad Boy Inc. to see what they get up to next.
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