Review: Last Hit (Hitman #1) by Jessica Clare & Jen Frederick *light spoilers*

September 4, 2015 2.5 stars, 2015 Review Challenge, Book Review, Boring Main Characters, contemporary, damsel in distress, deception plotline, ebook, Erotic Romance, fantasy romance, Insta-love, Mary Sue Alert, Meh, Romance, self published, series 1 ★★½

Review: Last Hit (Hitman #1) by Jessica Clare &  Jen Frederick  *light spoilers* two-half-stars
Last Hit by Jen Frederick, Jessica Clare, Jill Myles
Series: Hitman
Published by Berkley/NAL Publishing Group on October 7, 2014
Pages: 290
Format: eBook
Goodreads
Buy at Amazon
Nikolai:
I have been a contract killer since I was a boy. For years I savored the fear caused by my name, the trembling at the sight of my tattoos. The stars on my knees, the marks on my fingers, the dagger in my neck, all bespoke of danger. If you saw my eyes, it was the last vision you’d have. I have ever been the hunter, never the prey. With her, I am the mark and I am ready to lie down and let her capture me. Opening my small scarred heart to her brings out my enemies. I will carry out one last hit, but if they hurt her, I will bring the world down around their ears.

Daisy:
I’ve been sheltered from the outside world all my life. Homeschooled and farm-raised, I’m so naive that my best friend calls me Pollyanna. I like to believe the best in people. Nikolai is part of this new life, and he’s terrifying to me. Not because his eyes are cold or my friend warns me away from him, but because he’s the only man that has ever seen the real me beneath the awkwardness. With him, my heart is at risk..and also, my life.

So. I decided to purchase Last Hit in support after the announcement that Jen Frederick was a pen name for the well known critical reviewer Jane at Dear Author. After I made this purchase…I realized that I hit the “buy” button really quickly while actually feeling conflicted about the whole situation. I decided to put Last Hit on the back burner while I let myself think – realizing that I didn’t support Jane’s actions as much as I supported the fact that a popular reviewer was also a popular author (something that isn’t particularly usual). I ended up starting Last Hit while on travel recently.

One of the major issues I had while reading Last Hit is Jen Frederick. I feel like I know her – and in a way I do. I try not to “know” authors because it changes the way I read their works. In the situation of Jen Frederick, I know her in a different connotation – as Jane at Dear Author. I’ve followed DA for years and years – and during the course of those years Jane (and Dear Author) has reviewed many, many books and written many, many essays. The book reviews often discuss (in depth) problematic plots and treatment of women. The essays found on Dear Author cover a wide variety of subjects, feelings, trends, etc. but the ones that ran through my mind were essays on agency, rape and [mistreatment of] women used as plot points (and motivators). I didn’t go digging the essays up to re-read them nor do I remember the essay names. In fact, since Dear Author is a site with multiple contributors, its possible Jane never wrote the essays I’m thinking of.

But this is one of the issues I run into when I “know” the author. I feel like Jen Frederick (as Jane from DA) knows how a lot of readers feel about some of the plot points used in Last Hit and knew that a lot of readers would find those plot points problematic.

And I did.

I felt that Daisy had very little agency* in Last Hit. She starts with no agency, gathers some agency during her time prior to and with Nick and then loses it again as we get closer the ending of the story. In addition to the agency issues, Daisy (and the protection of Daisy) is used as a plot motivator for Nick. Rape is also used as a possible plot point for Daisy (it doesn’t happen) and the beginning plot point for a later book in the series. GAH!! We discuss rape and it’s uses as plot points at Dear Author all the time! I felt somewhat betrayed to find rape the way I did here.

There’s also something very…Lisa Marie Rice about this whole set up. The incredibly naive heroine, the incredibly dangerous and rich hero. The absolute obsession by the hero and even the way the hero watches the heroine. I like LMR to a point so I should’ve liked this. Right now it feels like LMR has her characters become emotionally and physically intimate faster & maybe has a bit of a larger emotional impact.

Last Hit also reminds me a bit of the Her Russian Protector series by Roxie Rivera. In fact, Last Hit reminded me of Her Russian Protector so much that I immediately read the next three (3) books in the Her Russian Protector series, lol. And I was right. Last Hit and Her Russian Protector are very alike while still being very different. Both Last Hit and the Her Russian Protector series features Russian Heroes with sketchy (or very, very sketchy) backgrounds related to criminal activities (Russian mafia). Both have heroines who need to be protected; both have heroes who are obsessed with the heroine. One of the major differences (for me) is that the Her Russian Protector series did not have rape or women being sold into the sex trade until book 4 (Nikolai) and even then it was portrayed as something an insane person set up and not something that anyone wanted to continue.

Last Hit does not have any on page rape BUT I do feel like rape is used here in an almost gratuitous way. Daisy gives her cell phone to her roommate. Daisy is being tracked by Nick’s enemies who track her phone to her roommate. The bad guys decide to take both Daisy and her roommate, with the roommate being dragged off to be raped immediately and then sold on the black market as a sex slave. (Later the roommate gets her own book but it starts with her being kept in a foreign brothel as a sex slave who is purchased/saved by the hero of the book. WTF. ALL the WTFs). But Daisy is a virgin. O_O So they are going to do an auction to sell her for big bucks.

WTF.

Not that any of this couldn’t happen but what was the damn point?? Nick’s enemies have no real reason for doing this as they are not “officially” his enemies. They [the bad guys] say they grabbed Daisy to force Nick to come to them…so then why the plans to sell her asap? And why even bother stealing Daisy’s roommate? Is it because she’s a “witness?” Just for shits and giggles? Just for rape-y fun? Just so that the new book’s hero can save the poor raped woman?? WHY?

And what makes it worse was that I saw the set-up coming a mile away. Nick knew Sergi – the bad guy – knew his [Nick] location. Nick knew Sergi was a bit insane….but Nick never thought to move or warn and move Daisy after Sergi TELLS him that he knew where Nick was. This would mean – to me – that Sergi also knew about Daisy. Nick was also watching (read stalking) Daisy until she forced him to stop…which happened to happen RIGHT before Daisy gets kidnapped. Yeeah. Saw that one (kidnapping) coming a mile away.

I also hated the fact that Nick never “brought the world down around their ears” at all. He basically did was he was told to do and someone else got Daisy to him. AND THEN they had sex for the FIRST TIME. Yup. AFTER all of the action and the climax of the book. Seriously? I was so ready to toss in the towel by then, lol.

What I did enjoy was that Nick felt…a bit more authentic than the heroes in Her Russian Protector series and less fantasy-ish as in Lisa Marie Rice books. But this is a fantasy, make no mistake about that.

All in all, Last Hit is a decent read, it’s just not a MrsJ read. I would normally avoid this kind of book (It’s New Adult (NA), IIRC) but I bought it as mentioned above. I’ve had a chance to review the other books in Jen Frederick’s back list and I can state that I’ll not read them. They all sound like NA books and NA is not a preferred sub-genre for me.

I WOULD suggest Last Hit for people who enjoy NA Romances and obsessed heroes.
 

 

 

*Agency – in relation to characters/character development, “agency” simply means that a character has the ability to act and make decisions for themselves. This character affects the plot instead of only being effected by the plot.

One Response to “Review: Last Hit (Hitman #1) by Jessica Clare & Jen Frederick *light spoilers*”

  1. MrsJoseph

    Note: I still haven’t fully parsed the way I feel about the Jane @Dear Author/Jen Frederick scenario. On one hand, I think that it is difficult for any critical book reviewer to get their foot in the door as an author. From the outside looking in, it feels to me that [a lot of] authors have started to act like politicians: you’re either for them or against them and any one against them is an enemy. This causes sabotage and retaliation and drama that most people have interest in avoiding.

    Jane @ DA is a critical reviewer and has been a vocal supporter of reader’s rights. This has caused many authors and some publishers to label Jane and the entire Dear Author site as an enemy (which is BS) because those authors and publishers care nothing about their readers – they only care about good reviews and plundering reader wallets. Vocal support for readers is the opposite of what those authors and publishers want as it focuses the discussion on appeasing the consumer (a typical business tactic) instead of shaming the consumer to act and react in ways that only benefit the author/publisher.

    On the other hand, no one is obligated to help someone learn a craft. By hiding her identity from people she knew didn’t like her/would not have helped her, Jen Frederick was extremely deceitful in what appears to be a hurtful way. So, while Jen Frederick did not steal anything, she did receive something (knowledge and help) via deceit. Additionally, just as readers should have a safe space, authors should have a safe space. It pains me to hear of people saying that they no longer feel they have a safe space.

    Another problem I had with the Jane @ DA/Jen Frederick situation is that she deceived everyone: Authors who helped her and readers who supported her. As Jane @ DA, Jane’s word carried a lot of trust: she was “just like us” a regular reader who understood where the regular reader was coming from. Suddenly, Jane went from being “a regular reader” into a multi-year multi-novel best selling author. That was a big jump. Especially since a lot of “regular readers” had just donated to Jane’s (vs. Ellora’s Cave) legal fund – because she was a “regular reader.”

    Here is my biggest issue: Jane @ Dear Author is a huge champion of transparency and disclosure. In the past Jane has hammered mightily upon authors and reviewers who did not disclose bias. When it came time for Jane to disclose bias, she decided to conceal this bias. Instead of disclosing that Jane @ DA was Jen Frederick, Jane reviewed at least one book published by her own publisher. Instead of disclosing that Jane @ DA was Jen Frederick, Jane (as Jen) donated books as prizes in giveaways hosted by Dear Author and at least one other site. Instead of practicing what she preached, Jane/Jen both concealed her identity and dragged down her friends with her. Readers across Romancelandia were all shocked to learn that Jane = Jen AND that Jane collaborated with authors (like Jessica Clare) for multiple books as well as worked with other popular reviewers (Sarah Wendell from SmartBitchesTrashyBooks) while encouraging them to keep her secret as well. This is something that Jane would have castrated another reviewer/author for and I can’t ignore that.

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