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My name is Jen. I read too much. I drive my husband crazy. I share books with my friends and we spend too much time talking about them. I enjoy Urban Fantasy & Romance (mostly PR & Historicals.) I’m also a mother of two and work full-time as a tv news Executive Producer.
Deadly Is the Kiss - Rhyannon Byrd For fans of the Primal Instinct series, this book is designed to do two things: --1-- to set up a spinoff series set in the same world and --2-- to provide the payoff for Ashe and Juliana, a couple that the author has been teasing readers with for a while. I've only read one random book out of the eight that came before this, so I didn't go into this story with any particular itch to scratch.

I can tell you that as a spinoff, this is a good place for new readers to get familiar with the series. There are definite references to past events and obviously our couple has a history together, but I never felt lost or confused. The world-building is laid out clearly and the author does a good job bringing readers up to speed on who everyone is.

Juliana is a vampire who has spent nearly a decade in the prison-like wastelands with her family. It drives Ashe crazy that he doesn't know their crimes. But the mere fact that they were imprisoned tells him that Juliana is bad news. Unfortunately for him, his body has chosen her as a mate despite this. She triggered the "burning" in him, a sexual pull and fever that can't be overcome until he bonds with her. The burning has been torturing him for months, but Ashe won't give in and he won't tell anyone what's going on... convinced he'll find a way to rid himself of his impulses.

Ashe has been keeping his distance from Juliana, but now suddenly she is out of the wastelands and appealing to him for help. Someone has put a hit out on her family and she is hoping Ashe can help her find proof of it, so she can appeal to the vampire council for help. Ashe agrees to help her, but only if she is willing to give him the sexual release he craves.

Yes. You read that right. Our hero will only help our heroine save her family if she agrees to have sex with him --however and whenever he wants. That did not sit well with me. Yes, she wants him; and yes, they are predestined mates. But I still didn't like it. You don't barter sex for lifesaving assistance. Not hero behavior.

Anyway, so the story follows Ashe and Juliana as they try to find evidence against the bad guys, while they work to keep feelings out of their sexual relationship. Each has had a very bad experience in the past that has made them wary of love and unable to trust. And their issues have them kind of going around in circles and making bad decisions. Ashe, in particular, was a douche on more than one occasion because of his mistrust. It was frustrating to read.

The sex was hot. The writing was good, and so was the action. Juliana's backstory and the climax were unpredictable and satisfying. But the way Ashe went back and forth between being an infatuated lover and an out and out dick was tough to bear. And I hated the Epilogue, which was as overly sentimental and ridiculous and it was unnecessary. I've got serious mixed feelings about this one. 3 stars.

*ARC Provided by NetGalley