Synopsis: After killing the murderer of his lover hit man Leon thought he’d find peace, but instead sinks into depression and takes to drinking. His bosses, a dubious (governmental) organization, send him to a remote safe house in Alaska to recuperate. On one of his walks into the forest he is being attacked by a bear and only survives because a young man rescues him. Grim, a strangely subservient, fragile, yet strong boy takes care of him in his cabin in the woods. Leon realizes that Grim has been in an extremely abusive relationship that damaged Grim pretty badly and is resolved to free Grim of his past â€“ and finds salvation himself.
Review: This was my first novel by Ally Blue, but certainly not my last. Leon – what an appropriate name for a hit man – is a ruthless killer without a conscience, but a tender and considerate man at the same time. Grim is a tough young man who has survived in the Alaskan wilderness on his own, but a deeply damaged soul who needs to please. He has been sexually, physically and emotionally abused since he was fourteen and that left mental scars that are hard to overcome. Leon is determined to help Grim to get rid of the hold the past has on him and by doing so he is being cleansed as well.
The story had a very good plot. The first part felt like a cabin romance, since Leon and Grim were secluded in that hidden cabin for a long time. When Leon’s organization came for him the pace changed from peaceful (at least on the outside) to, well, not really action packed, but determined activity on Leon’s side to escape himself, then free Grim and plan a future for them. Thank God, Leon had all the knowledge and contacts to do that.
When the moment came to get Grim out of hospital I was extremely impressed with how well they worked together. What a couple! They were good together no matter what they did, be it making love, gutting animals or killing adversaries. I liked that none of them was a goody-two-shoes, but both were real people with good and bad sides. Thank God Ally Blue didn’t take the easy way out and make Grim’s issues vanish into thin air once he had known Leon for some time. He was still dealing with them at the end of the book, which makes sense. Way too often in (especially straight) romance the hero is being "healed" the minute he gets together with the heroine. Not here. Grim is getting better, but he still has a long way to go.
The ending is the sweetest one ever. The outlook into the future for both of them leaves nothing to be desired, neither for Leon and Grim, nor for the reader.
Available at Samhain Publishing.