4+! As a romantic suspense story, this was really good. In fact, the formula of this story reminded me a lot of a good Christy Reece romance suspense (a fav author of mine), except with a m/m spin. (She often pairs a dark shady hero with a good heroine above reproach, faces them off against multiple possible bad guys, and then protects them with a super-secret agency of professional good-guys with endless resources at their fingertips).
Zero at the Bone was an intense romance suspense with the most unlikely couple. D is a dark and tortured man driven by circumstances to become the man he is: a hired hit-man assassin. Jack is his polar opposite, A highly respectable surgeon above reproach, his life is turned upside down when he witnesses two criminal mob bosses killing a woman in cold blood.
D and Jack end up on the run for several months, hiding from an unknown mastermind bent of seeing both of them dead. They get some mysterious help from a person named X, an interesting but somewhat implausible character with super-duper spy and espionage abilities. X seems to be in the right place at the right time with the right solution often, but when the story reveals X’s identity and how they are able to do what they do, I actually bought it hook, line and sinker. (I thought I knew who X was early in the story, and I was so wrong!)
The story also spends a great deal of time focused on the growing relationship between this unlikely pair. D is a damaged soul, and at first you will wonder if he could ever come back from his dark place. Jack wants to know D, all of him, and over time gets him to open up and trust him. I haven’t read many m/m romances to compare it to, but I personally thought the relationship developed at a very realistic pace. It was emotionally gripping, and I thought the author did an excellent job making the reader believe these two had great chemistry between them. As their desires turned into a full-on relationship, you knew their bond would be unbreakable.
I loved these two guys, but D was a bit of a stretch for me in places. D’s character change throughout the book was at times touching and emotional, but at other times a bit too mushy and contradictory. I had some trouble seeing him as a super-scary deadly bad-ass kind of guy one minute, than the next minute as a joking horny mushy guy who can break into tears. Toward the end, I really didn’t know who D was as a person anymore. He was emotional healed and in love, yes, but still hanging on to his dark persona that we met in the opening pages. So I really didn’t know which of these two personality types I was going to see in the remaining scenes.
The sex scenes in this story were plentiful and hot! But I found myself skimming (if not skipping) over them toward the end just to get back to the story. If you enjoy some hot m/m sex scenes, this book will deliver on that! Wow. If not, they can easily be skimmed or skipped too. The story is worth reading for the story itself, and even without the graphic sex scenes this would be one great read.
The story could have used a good trimming, especially toward the end. The story actually ends at the 90% point, and the final 10% reads more like a short follow up story. It was interesting to see these two months later living out their real life, but totally optional IMHO.
Overall, a great romantic suspense with some nail biting action but also some implausible help along the way, and two leads who you will root for and believe in, but who were at times over-the-top in the mushy department. It was long winded (especially toward the end), but delivered a great story. And PLENTY of HOT sex scenes too.