Thursday, November 9, 2017

Skin and Blond by V.J. Chambers

๐ŸŽƒ Read for the Unapologetic Romance Readers Halloween 2017 Reading Challenge for the category of: a romantic suspense romance ๐ŸŽƒ

I grabbed a ton of this author's books while they were free, because they were FREE - and also because they looked spooky, and I needed books to fulfill the Halloween romance challenge I am definitely still committed to, even though it is now November. The first book of hers I read was THE KILLING MOON, named after an Echo and the Bunnymen song (YAS), and I enjoyed it way, way more than I thought I would. In fact, I liked it a lot.

When I picked up SKIN AND BLOND, I had raised expectations - but somehow, this book (and the author) exceeded them.

SKIN AND BLOND is about a private investigator named Ivy, who got kicked off the force due to bad behavior (e.g. sleeping around). She has a lengthy history of emotional trauma, as well as a sex addiction, so solving other people's problems seems like it ought to be the last job  she should have. And yet, she's good at what she does. Good enough that people go to her when they think that the cops won't or can't help.

One such case gets passed along to her from her last friend in the world, her ex-boyfriend, and previously fellow cop, Miles. A distraught brother is determined to find his missing sister, who vanished without a trace, taking her bed sheets with her apparently but leaving her phone behind. But the simple missing persons case quickly blows up as drugs and mafia ties enter the mix, and pretty soon a flighty girl's post-college misadventures start to look a whole lot more sinister.

Plenty of authors try to write dark content, but Chambers actually succeeds. SKIN AND BLOND is creepy, in more ways than one, but it also has a great dark emotional sphere. Ivy is torn up about losing her job, her inability to form personal relationships where sex is an act of intimacy instead of oblivion, and her own unpleasant past that involves the death of her parents. Her relationship with Miles tore me up inside because Miles is asexual, but desperately wants a family and love, but even though he's not aromantic, he still is averse to sex and touching. His love for Ivy and her love for him took on the tragedy of a Greek play, and watching them interact made my heart hurt.

And no, that love doesn't magically "cure" their problems or their lack of sexual desire/intimacy.

I really enjoyed this book a lot. It's everything I want in a thriller, and the closest thing I've found to filling that gap left by a dearth of new Gillian Flynn books. If you enjoy psychological thrillers with strong female characters riddled with flaws and personal baggage, you will love this book.

4.5 to 5 out of 5 stars

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