This book is a spin-off from Jones’ High Stakes series and, while it could read as a standalone, I think it is helpful to read High Stakes before diving into this book.
Our protagonist is Tempest, a woman in her twenties who has spent her entire life as a Rose, an assassin for a secret society. We open with her free from the assassin life and follow as she integrates into the normal world and becomes romantically involved with a local tattoo artist.
This book is a unique blend of romance and women’s fiction where secret assassins just casually exist. But I struggled with it because it flattened so much of the worldbuilding I loved in the High Stakes series about the Roses.
Tempest being an ex-assassin is treated more like a personality quirk than the deep psychological trauma we saw in High Stakes. A majority of the main conflict in the book is Tempest dealing with her love interest’s ex-girlfriend and eh, I could do without so much of the mean girl stuff.
I think long-time CCJ fans will find a lot to love in this book because it is packed with cameos and in jokes. Also, apparently, the abandoned candle shop that Tempest lives above is a reference to one of her early works?
Eboni Flowers was the main reason I picked this up. I’d DNF’d a book she was narrating and even though I wasn’t into that book I thought her narration was excellent. Not only does she have a great voice but she excels at subtl inflection changes to convey the wide array of characters populating the world. Flowers has only done a handful of romance but I hope we see more…it looks like she’s becoming Kennedy Ryan’s go to.
I’m still curious to read the rest of the books in this series but, if anything, this book made me want to go back and check out some of the books in The Heights world.