Review of Love Kills Twice by Rien Gray
What are the odds of a husband and a wife both hiring the same assassin to get rid of the other? And what are the odds that the wife will fall for the assassin?
Love Kills Twice is a dark and very hot first book – its length puts it right at the limit between novella and novel, so call it what you will – in a new series and a debut (there’s a link to a very well-written short story on the author’s website).
The writing is really good and I absolutely loved the atmosphere. It took me a little longer to love the characters, for two reasons. The first is my own moral sense, which struggled with liking killers. I knew what I was getting into though, so once I got over myself, it was fine. The other reason is how mysterious Campbell, the non-binary assassin, remains for most of the story. I liked how they looked at and saw Justine (their client and potential victim) from the start but it wasn’t enough for me to get a real feel as to who they are. Which was kind of exciting in itself. There’s a capacity for passion hidden behind the cold facade that explains a lot once it’s unveiled.
Justine, on the other hand, is also complex but in a very different way. When we meet her, she’s already decided to have her husband killed, after years of him mistreating her, cheating on her and extinguishing her light and passion. So yes, she’s already decided to take action, in the most radical way. Yet as the relationship with Campbell evolves, we see her stand straighter, become more assertive, take what she wants.
As you’ll probably get from the premise, there are a few potential triggers in this book. Here are the warnings listed on the publisher’s website: on-page murder of a side character, cheating and power imbalance by a side character; off-page domestic abuse of an MC, mention of past war-time trauma of an MC.
A second book in the series is announced in a more or less near future. I’ll be very interested in seeing what happens to Campbell and Justine next.