Kiss at Your Own Risk by Stephanie Rowe
Series: Soulfire #1
Genres: PNR, Romance
He needed a killer woman...
Blaine Underhill is one lucky man after having recently escaped a century and a half of imprisonment at the hands of an evil witch. Now he's determined to save his still-enslaved friend, but in order to do so, he'll need the help of one of the world's most lethal women.
She was drop dead gorgeous, literally...
Trinity Harpswell is sick and tired of being a Black Widow. Having managed to go three years without accidentally killing anyone she loves, she's one short week away from freeing herself from this killer curse forever.
When Blaine tracks her down and convinces her to help him, little does Trinity know that the next seven days are going to be murder!
Kiss at Your Own Risk is the tenth (10) book I’ve read using the Scribd service and the first book in the Soulfire series. This book is currently on sale at Kobo for $5.79. Stephanie Rowe is a new to me (NTM) author that I discovered using the Scribd recommendation engine.
I don’t know what to say…this wasn’t what I expected it to be. At all.
Let’s start with worldbuilding: it didn’t exist. That’s not completely fair – the world building existed but it was not explained to the reader in any way. You really just have to go with the flow for this one…and my extensive experience with reading paranormal romance (PNR) tells me that the author’s world in this series is one in which magic in all its PNR shapes and sizes are run of the mill, everyday activities. Ok. So let’s walk into the book with that assumption.
The “bad guy” and plot catalyst in Kiss At Your Own Risk is a witch who is madly in love with her renowned-assassin husband who leaves her because, well, assassin groupies/basic bitches. And he accidentally killed his daughter & her husband on his way out.
After spending a lot of time heartbroken, the witch decides that the only way to make men into “good people” worthy of a [good?] woman was to take them [boys] as children and torture them with black magic for years and years and years. In a place she called the Den of Womanly Pleasures. Basically she killed them off but some survived, including the hero. Somehow the things she did to them turned them in to badass magical warriors who are super hard to kill…? I don’t get that part but whatever, it happened and you have to go with it. The witch also took girls as well. Some of them she trained to follow in her footsteps – not sure about the rest of them.
Kiss at Your Own Risk is the story of Blaine and Trinity. Trinity is a very nice TSTL young woman who was cursed as a baby with the Black Widow curse. She is doomed to kill off any man she loves. This is bad but what is worse is that her 5th murder will cause her to lose her soul and she’s already at #4. But Blaine needs her to kill again to help free his friend from the witch’s Den of Womanly Pleasures where he is being tortured to death.
Got all of that? Good, there’s more.
Now, in a typical PNR the witch would have stolen or in some way tricked the children into her snare…but in this book the witch bought them from their parents (at least the ones we deal with) for favors or items. Blaine was sold to the witch at four years old. He was raised by a batshit crazy witch who raped him and tortured the crap out of him for 150 years and he has no idea how to relate to women except as “crazy torturer killer bitch!” And that shit is just heartbreaking. Not. Funny. At. All.
It turned out the witch was also the person who cured Trinity as a baby – her goal was to create a super black widow curse that she would infect all women with. And she thought this was a good thing. She believed that men were shit (unless tortured straight) and that she would be doing the world’s women a favor by releasing them from the horrible bonds of love that allowed men to treat women badly and break their hearts. She was also obsessed with multiple orgasms. Let’s remember this point: The witch thought she was doing good, was a match-maker extraordinaire and that she loved those people she’d tortured. Gah.
When I was discussing this craziness with friends one reminded me of Terry Pratchett’s comments on witches:
“A witch who is bored might do ANYTHING.
People said things like ‘we had to make our own amusements in those days’ as if this signified some kind of moral worth, and perhaps it did, but the last thing you wanted a witch to do was get bored and start making her own amusements, because witches sometimes had famously erratic ideas about what was amusing.”
– Terry Pratchett, The Sea and Little Fishes
So the hero and heroine manage to stop the witch (along with assorted other shenanigans happening) and the heroine’s Black Widow curse kicks in because she falls in love with the hero. Who is excited that she’s trying to kill him because he doesn’t trust women since he’s so fucked up in the head due to the witch that it allows him to really believe that she loves him. How freaking sad is that?
Yeah. It wasn’t quite the fun and funny story I was looking for. Kiss At Your Own Risk is written in a very humorous manner and there were some funny parts…but the sadness of the the whole deal just killed any of the humor for me. It was meant to be funny but it was just unexplainable and sad.
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