They're rebels, scoundrels, and blackguards-dark, dashing men on the wrong side of the law. But for the women who love them, a hint of danger only makes the heart beat faster...
A scandalous proposal.
Christopher Argent lives in the shadows as the empire's most elite assassin. Emotion is something he tossed away years ago, making him one of the most clear-eyed, cold-hearted, wealthiest, and therefore untouchable men in London. But when his latest target turns out to be London's own darling, Millicent LeCour, Christopher's whole world is turned upside down. Overwhelmed by her stunning combination of seduction and innocence, Christopher cannot complete the mission. She has made him feel again. Now, he will do anything to save her life, so that he can claim her as his own...
A perilous passion...
When Millie learns what Christopher was hired to do, she is torn between the fear in her heart and the fire in her soul. Putting herself in this notorious hunter's arms may be her only path to safety-even if doing so could be the deadliest mistake she's ever made. But how can she resist him? As the heat between her and Christopher burns out of control, danger lurks in the shadows. Is their desire worth the risk? Only the enemy knows what fate has in store...
"Captured me from page one and never let go. Romantic, lush, and suspenseful." -Suzanne Enoch on The Highwayman
About the Author
A native of the United Kingdom, Audie and AudioFile Earphones Award winner Derek Perkins's audiobook narration skills are augmented by a knowledge of three foreign languages and a facility with accents. He has narrated numerous titles in a wide range of fiction and nonfiction genres. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA.
Read an Excerpt
London, 1877 Twenty-two Years Later
"I don't kill children," Christopher Argent informed the solicitor who seemed to be attempting to hire him to do so. "Or deliver them to their deaths."
Sir Gerald Dashforth, Esquire, perched uneasily behind the desk, and persisted in eyeing the closed door as though he anticipated the need to scream for help at any moment. The man matched the furniture in his Westminster office, expensive, waspish, delicate in an almost feminine manner, and the most offensive shade of puce. He peered at Argent from behind wire-rimmed spectacles perched on ears that had long since outgrown his head.
Argent pondered the few observations he'd made about Dashforth in the minutes since he'd met the lawyer. The man was paid above his station, and yet still spent more than he made. He conducted business with the unscrupulous desperation of someone living well above their means. He was fastidious, vain, intelligent, and greedy to the point of immorality. He'd made a career of being the unassuming absolver of his clients' malevolent misdeeds by whatever means necessary.
For example, hiring the empire's most expensive assassin.
"I have three unequivocal policies that my clients must be aware of." Argent ticked them off on his fingers, beginning with his trigger finger. "The first, I don't intimidate, maim, rape, or torture, I execute. Secondary, I leave no messages, clues, or taunts behind for the police or anyone else, handwritten or otherwise. And tertiary, I don't kill children."
Dashforth forgot to be afraid for a moment, and his thin, dry lip curled up in an imperious sneer. "An assassin with a code? How very droll."
"Not so droll as a confirmed bachelor who pays to bugger young, foreign boys." Argent didn't only rely on observation.
"How dare you accuse me —"
Argent stood, and the lawyer gasped in a breath so abruptly, he choked on his own spittle. It wasn't just his uncommon height that reminded the man of his fear, Argent knew. It was the contrast of his appearance. The flawless press of his expensive suit against the unfashionable breadth of his body. The crook of his repeatedly broken nose against his aristocratic features. The gold and diamond cuff links above hands so scarred and callused from years of forced labor, they could never have belonged to a man of blue blood.
"The daylight is fading, Sir Dashforth," Argent stated calmly over the man's indelicate fit of coughs. "And I mostly work in the dark." Turning from the sputtering man, he counted out five measured paces.
"Wait!" The lawyer wheezed, hacking up a last bit and pressing a trembling hand to his heart as though willing it to slow. "Wait," he repeated. "My employer doesn't wish the child harm, I promise ... It is his dreadful mother that is to be — disposed of and the document recovered from her."
Argent faced Dashforth, who cleared his throat once more behind a fist and loosened his tie. "Go on."
"So long as the boy cannot be traced back to his father, whether the child lives or not is inconsequential."
Argent blinked. It was not uncommon for nobility to try and get rid of their bastards; he only had to ask his employer, Dorian Blackwell. "And this woman," he inquired. "What did she do to incur the wrath of your client?"
"Does it matter?"
"Not especially." Argent ambled toward his vacated seat and lowered himself back into it, unsure of the structural dependability of the chair beneath a man of his size. "What matters is how much you pay me to do the job."
Bending to his desk, Dashforth made quite a show of dipping his pen and scrawling an astounding sum on a scrap of paper. "My employer is prepared to offer this recompense."
Had Christopher Argent been prone to sentiment or emotion of any kind, he imagined astonishment would have been where his features would have landed. As it was, he wondered if he might need to show some just so he could perform the human expressions and responses he'd been practicing.
"That's quite a sum," he affirmed tonelessly. "Who does your employer want me to murder, the queen?"
Behind his spectacles, Dashforth's eyes widened at the word murder, and again at the treasonous implications at the mention of the death of the British monarch. "Have you heard of Millicent LeCour?" he rushed on.
"She may be London's darling, but she's nothing but a treacherous viper."
Still looking at all of the zeros on his scrap of paper and doing some quick calculations in his head, Argent gave the man a distracted, "Is that so?"
"Millie LeCour is not just an actress on stage," Dashforth continued. "She's a thief, a prostitute, and a blackmailer, who has forced my employer's hand in this matter."
Argent stood again, crumpling the paper in his hand and tossing it into the fire. "I'll take half the payment up front, and when the job is finished, I'll return for the rest."
Dashforth also stood, though he steadied himself on his desk before shuffling to the Diebold safe in the corner of the room. Though the gold dial gleamed and the safe was obviously new and expensive, the bulky item seemed as out of place in the frilly room as Argent, himself.
Once Dashforth extracted a leather satchel from the safe, he turned and pushed it across the desk at Argent. "This is more than half. Millie LeCour premieres as Desdemona in a special presentation of Othello at Covent Garden in two days' time."
"I know." Looking inside the case, Argent picked up a pile of banknotes and counted them.
"She's constantly surrounded by people," the man continued. "But we know she has apartments above Bow Street not far from the theater. That's where she keeps the child."
Argent snapped the satchel closed, causing Dashforth to start. "I do my own reconnaissance. I'll contact you within three days when the job is done."
"Very good." Dashforth put out his hand for a shake, but Argent only looked at it before striding for the door and retrieving his jacket from the stand.
"Don't let her fool you," the solicitor called after him. "She's the best actress in London for a reason. That gutter whore has left a trail of corpses in her rise to the top. The woman deserves less than the swift death you'll give her, make no mistake. She may be incomprehensibly beautiful, but she's unfeeling and unspeakably ruthless."
"If that's the case, then she and I have much in common," Christopher remarked. "Except my trail of corpses is indisputably longer and bloodier than hers."
* * *
Millie LeCour strained her vision through the stage gas-lighting to once again find him. He wasn't hard to find. Though he was cloaked in shadow, his magnetic pull was indefinable and unmistakable.
Two thousand two hundred and twenty-six seats at the Covent Garden Theater, and each one was occupied. But the moment Millie's eyes had alighted on the rough-hewn gentleman in the impeccable suit, he may as well have been the only audience member she'd ever played to. She'd thought that he seemed more like a character in one of the Bard's more violent plays than a connoisseur. Something about his presence excited and enticed her, and also made her utterly nervous.
The spotlights were dimmed by the light boy to illuminate only Iago and Rodrigo whilst they pontificated onstage upon her fictional demise. If she hugged the crimson velvet curtains just so, she could peer out at least three boxes on each tier of stage left without garnering any attention.
"Are you nervous?" Jane Grenn, who played Emilia, settled a friendly chin on Millie's shoulder and peeked into the crowd. Her golden ringlets tickled Millie's bare skin as they mingled with her ebony curls.
"No." Linking her arm with her friend's, Millie didn't look away from the arresting shadow that hadn't so much as shifted in the entire time she'd been watching him.
"Really? Not even for your debut at Covent Garden?"
"All right, I'm petrified," she admitted with a whisper. "This is the biggest night of my life thus far, and the crowd seems so subdued tonight, don't you think? What if it's a disaster?"
Jane wrapped her arms around Millie's corseted middle in an encouraging hug. "They're all just waiting breathlessly for the great Millie LeCour to make her appearance."
"Oh go on." Millie waved her compliment away with an embarrassed huff of breath. "They're here to see a Shakespeare play."
Jane's unladylike snort tickled her ear. "Othello never sells out Covent Garden like this, trust me. They're here for Desdemona."
"Or perhaps to see Rynd play Othello." Millie gestured to the strong, coffee-skinned actor whose deep voice sent thrills through every lady in the audience, whether she deigned to admit it or not. The golden lights shone from his sharp cheekbones and illuminated the brilliant white of his smile. He was exotic, sexual, and powerful as the Moor of Venice, and when she was on stage with him, even her body responded to the sparkle of mischief in his dark eyes.
"We're all dying to know if he's as horse-cocked as reputation suggests. Is he?"
Millie hid her gasp behind a hand and backed away from the curtain lest she be caught by the audience making such a gesture. "I'm sure I wouldn't know!" she stage-whispered at Jane, shooing her away with playful, indignant slaps.
"Don't be coy." Jane giggled. "Everyone knows you're swiving him. It's the reason you won't take Lord Phillip Easton's offer to keep you."
"Bite your tongue," Millie admonished. "There are innumerable reasons why I won't take Lord Easton's offer, all of which are my own. Besides, Rynd is married to that adorable woman, Ming."
Jane wrinkled her nose. "Being married never stops anyone from swiving whomever they please. And while Ming is a dear, I heard they're — you know — not right down there." She made a discreet gesture between her legs. "Sideways or some such."
"That is a malicious rumor," Millie insisted. "Really, Jane."
"How would you know? Have you seen one?"
"No, but they're people. And we're all pretty much made the same. I'm not discussing this further with you." Millie sidled back as close as she dared to the edge of the curtain, sure to stay out of the way of the entrances and exits of the various actors from the stage that made up the populace of a fictional Venice.
"Who are you playing to tonight?" Jane asked, assuming her place by Millie's shoulder and peeking into the shadows of the Covent Garden audience. She referred to Millie's habit of picking one figure in the crowd and delivering her lines through a connection she created just for that individual. Of course she performed to the entire audience, but through her awareness of that link with her chosen theatergoer, she was somehow able to convey more emotion, sentiment, and passion. If she ever lost herself, she would find her mark and it would ground her back in the moment. She attributed much of her success to the practice, and never failed to pick her ritualistic audience-of-one before each performance began.
"See that man there, sitting alone in the second box back on the second tier?" She pointed to the lone figure.
"My, but he's a giant shadow," Jane marveled. "Not hard to pick him out of a crowd."
"No, indeed, and his eyes are so shockingly blue, I could see them from the stage when the houselights were up."
"Giving Rynd a run for his money, is he?" Jane poked her in the ribs with a sharp elbow.
Millie poked back. "Of course not, since we've already established that Rynd and I aren't involved."
Jane smoothed her coiffure and sent Millie a sideways wink. "Sure you inn't. Anyone just has to watch you on stage to know you're setting each other's bed linens on fire, you lucky wench." She swept onstage for her cue, cutting off Millie's chance at a retort.
"It's called acting," Millie muttered under her breath. Rynd was a startlingly handsome and unerringly friendly man, to be sure, but he was also self- involved and bombastic. No one would guess this, but Millie preferred quiet gentlemen. Someone with unimposing intelligence and unfailing kindness. Forgiving. Patient. Indulgent.
Her notice returned to her shadow man. He'd taken off his hat, yet sat taller than most. And still. So impossibly motionless. But a sensation creeping over the fine hairs at her nape caused her to wonder if those eyes, pale and cold as a winter sky, were watching her right now. Something about the idea caused a wicked stirring inside of her laced with a delicious sort of anxiety.
She knew nothing about him, but had a feeling that he was neither unimposing nor safe. Something about his watchful stillness unsettled her. She took an involuntary step back into the safety of the velvet curtains and her own shadows, thinking that her bedsheets were a midnight-blue satin, and those eyes would glimmer from amongst them like crystalline stars against the darkest night.
Catching a sudden breath, she shuddered and brushed away the secret thrill from low in her belly. Best not even to fantasize. Everyone in her life was held at arm's length but one. Marriage, or even a lover, was strictly out of the question.
Her secrets were simply too dangerous.CHAPTER 2
Reconnaissance. Argent answered his own internal question. That's what he was doing at the gin-soaked club at midnight. The Sapphire Room was little more than a veritable mélange of shadowed nooks and private rooms sprouting from the main dance hall with no shortage of cushioned furniture from which to drape oneself.
The cacophony of the revelers packed beneath the crystal chandeliers all but drowned out the chamber musicians. Everything sparkled. From the gowns of the waltzing demimondaines, fashionable in their jewel tones, to the ladies' intricate coiffures, to the champagne, all glimmered and winked like fallen stars beneath the new electric lights of the Sapphire Room.
Christopher had to suppress a wince as a woman's high, fake cackle breached his eardrum. He never understood why people pretended amusement or hilarity. It was as though they believed that if they laughed loudly enough, they would create happiness where there was none. Their worthless lives wouldn't seem so meaningless if they could drown out the sound of their own empty existence with enough champagne and laughter.
At times like this Christopher appreciated his uncommon height, as he could stand a head above the crowd, and scan the herd for his prey. It wouldn't be difficult to find her here. Millie LeCour's hair was an uncommon shade of ebony. Her eyes, though nearly black themselves, shone with such life, they reminded him of multifaceted volcanic glass.
Those eyes. He'd watched the abundant life drain out of them as Othello had strangled her with his large, dark hands. Above them, alone in his box, Argent had held his own breath as the light that captured all of London dimmed and extinguished to rousing, thunderous applause.
He'd leaned toward her then, gripping the railing of the box. Willing her to wake, truly wondering if he hadn't just watched someone carry out his own charge to murder her in front of an audience of hundreds.
Argent had seen the real thing so many times he'd lost count, and she captured the dull lifelessness with such precision, he didn't breathe again until the curtain lifted for a final bow. And there she was, her smile brighter and more prismatic than Covent Garden's crystal chandelier.
He'd actually slumped back into his chair.
She'd turned to him, pressed her hands together, and curtsied with such grace, her eyes sparkling with unshed tears. Alive. Not only alive. Full of life. Brimming with it. Pressing her rouged lips to her hand, she'd tossed a kiss to the crowd. And again, he could have sworn, she turned and tossed one to him.
She'd been happy. He'd observed enough of humanity very closely to recognize the emotion. The true glow of transcendence. And as she'd waved at the boxes, his box, beaming that elated smile at him, he'd felt the most peculiar impulse to return it.
He'd become unsettled by that. Restless, chilled, and uncharacteristically prone to movement. His fingers curled and uncurled. His jaw clenched. His heart quickened its pace along with his breath. A pressure exerted itself against his heavy ribs and squeezed.
At first he'd considered apoplexy. Now he was altogether convinced it was something else, entirely.
He'd ... felt. Not only that, the phenomenon hadn't abated.
For the first time in more than twenty years, he'd been a victim of affect. Something he'd thought himself rid of indefinitely.
Even still, at this moment, he was searching the crowd for her with a stunning sense of ... what he could only identify as anticipation. Not for the violence, but just for another glimpse of her dark and mesmerizing eyes.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Hunter"
Copyright © 2016 Kerrigan Byrne.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I would recommend reading The Highway Man prior to reading The Hunter, because it sets the character foundations for each novel. It doesn't do well as a stand alone. Other than that, the novel is intriguing and different than traditional Victorian novels. Different in the overuse of the f-bomb, but intriguing storyline of an assassin with barely any feelings. The ice around Christopher's heart is tough to thaw, the author wrote the novel well in how Christopher became such a harden man. However, there are moments when emotions are over explained, or dragged out. But, well worth the purchase and read.
This is one author that knows how to grab your attention pulling you in with a compelling read and hooking you with a wonderful plot with great characters. She pull on your emotions that you feel you have become part of the story. You just want to jump right into the pages giving a hug to this character or that. My heart really broke for Christopher with a childhood like he had it is amazing he turned out as good as he did. His mother was in prison for prostitution and some other things, this is where his was born. Your heart really has to go out to her and the things she did to make sure he was feed and taken care of. He had to watch terrible things happen to her and then watch her die it really is a sad emotional read. When he became of age he left the prison he and his friends become men for hire as they took on the role of assassins. Life goes on with him taking a person life and getting paid he feels and shows no emotion until the day when he was hired to kill Millie. He tried he really did he even had his hands around her throat but there is a powerful attraction and he just can’t bring his self to do it. Things just are not adding up. He decides to help and protect her it will only cost her one night with him. Millie doesn’t know what to think she is scared and alone but for her son. She doesn’t know who to trust and at what cost will it be. She is hiding secrets she will keep hidden at all cost knowing these could give him an idea of why there is a price on her head. She does agree to his terms of protection just like his mother there isn’t anything she wouldn’t do for her son, in doing so she comes to understand why he does what he does. The author writes in a way that you have no trouble picturing the scenes in your mind as they unfold. I doubt you can read this without your emotions being pulled in as your heart breaks a little. From Christopher watching his mother die from abuse in prison to the abuse he went through all the way to being released not knowing what to do with his self. He has made money hand over fist but doesn’t have anything to spend it on. He is angry and who could blame him as he takes his anger out on the world. I enjoyed how the build up between these two you can feel the power of their chemistry. The struggle as he works out his feelings is very emotional for him and the reader. I had a few small issues with the story but nothing major and am rating it a 4.5 a rounding it up to a 5 star. The writing was compelling as was the story you have no trouble being pulled in from the start. The characters are great as you watch them grow and learn understanding they can have a good life and learning to believe in their selves giving back as much as they get. This was well worth the read and I look forward to reading more from this author. Book Obsessed Chicks Review
Millicent LeCour has hidden a secret for a long time. But this secret has made her the most recent mark of Christopher Argent. While fighting for her life and protecting her beloved son Millie will do anything to keep those she cares about safe. Even if it means selling her soul to the devil. Christopher Argent was born into hell. As the son of a prisoner of her majesty he had to learn how to protect himself at an early age, especially after such a tremendous loss. Now he is like water. That is until his most recent mark, Millie, makes him into something so much more then water. He has turned into fire. Now the only thing that is keeping him centered, as well as keeping Millie and her son safe is the man who was hired to kill them. I have to admit I had to work my nerve up to read this book because I am not a big fan of historical romances but this was a really good one. But once I started to read The Hunter I could not put this book down. I absolutely adored The Hunter. There was so much happening in this amazing story it was filled with romance, danger, suspense, mercenaries, heartache, and loss.This story makes you fall hard for all of the characters. I may have liked Millie but I absolutely fell in love with Christopher, all because of the numerous hits he absorbed but yet he still managed to do what is necessary to survive. This was a masterfully written story that enraptures the audience from the very beginning. There is so much loss in this book and it hits the reader like a freight train. But this story was so real. Many times an author likes to disregard the little details like a bath house, a place to make you look like you age less, or the double edge sword that being an actress is. This book had all the elements that made this time period what it was. And that to me is what made this book truly special. I would definitely recommend this book, and this author to anyone who likes historical romances. ~ A Book Obsessed Chicks Review Team Selection.
Kerrigan Byrne has a created a story that will keep you engrossed until the very end. Christopher Argent is the premiere assassin in England and his assignment is to murder Millie LeCour. Millie is London's own darling, stage actress, who is only trying to protect her son. When Argent attempts to murder her, he can not go through with it. Argent agrees to protect Millie and her son from future attempts. Although he is a cold, dangerous man, he is developing feelings for Millie and she is feeling the same. They must overcome the danger and try to protect the love growing between them.
Can an assassin change his road to find love and life? Christopher finds unexpected chance with an Millie, who is a target of a job. Enter adorable Jakub and cast of acquaintances and fellow underworld fellows to make this a book of gritty violence, chuckles and a redeeming love.
This is book 2 in the Victorian Rebels series. Christopher Argent is an assassin for hire. He has never had any trouble doing his job until he is assigned to kill Millie LeCour. His multiple attempts aways end before their completion because of his overwhelming attraction for her. He finally realizes that he will never be able to follow through with it and changes his mission to one of protecting Millie from the person that put the hit out on her. Millie doesn't know what to make of Christopher. He is trying to kill her one minute and kissing her the next. She soon realizes that she does need Christopher to protect her as someone else has been given the orders to kill her. Can this growing passion between Millie and Christopher lead to something permanent? Once again, Bryne has written a book that keep me reading straight through to the end without putting it down. This series is much darker than I normally read, but it sucked me into it from the very beginning and has kept me coming back for more. With this book, we see the struggle that Christopher has gone through. He was born inside a prison and his early years shaped him into the man that he is today. Good or bad, that is what we get. But when he meets Millie, we see that a person can be changed by others. Millie was such a kind hearted but fierce woman, that she was able to see the man that her could be and stuck by him through it all. I can't wait for the next book in the series, The Highlander, which comes out in August! Thanks go out to St Martin's Press via NetGalley for a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review.
Christopher Argent was born in Newgate Prison, horrific any way you look at it, but witnessing the death of his mother and the subsequent struggle to survive until he is free isn’t the best way to raise an honest and functional human being. Cold, calculating and a doctorate in street survival, Christopher is a character that easily could have gone dark. Fortunately, Byrne pulls Christopher from the abyss by presenting his story in a way that builds empathy and understanding for the man he has become. Millie LeCour is an actress, lauded by men and women. While her profession isn’t particularly ‘respectable’, she doesn’t indulge in the scandalous behaviors that have befallen her peers. She’s got one goal: raising her dead friend’s son to be a successful man, and she goes to great lengths just to keep him safe and happy. But she does have a secret, one that spells danger for her and the young boy. A girl born in Whitechapel, she’s not ‘society approved’, but she’s worked hard to improve her life and grab opportunities. But, the secret will haunt her…. Given the contract to end Millie’s life, thus ensuring the secret will never surface, Christopher has his first moments of doubt when he tries to complete his task. An unusual moment for him, he’s rarely bothered and doesn’t allow attachments. But somehow, the attraction he has for Millie opens the story and the two work to find answers and threats on their way to love. Descriptive, detailed and engaging, Byrne uses the interactions and history of the two characters to find common ground and familiarity. Christopher’s story is dark and often brutal, but for a few breaks, Millie’s wouldn’t be far behind. With suspense, murders, some dark and brutal descriptions and a quick moment to see a relationship / friendship develop between Millie’s son Jakub and Christopher, the story is a wonderful second installment. I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
This book! I don't even have words for this book other than: READ IT! This was one of those books that I could not get enough of and didn't want to stop reading. I read this one in a matter of days because I just could not put it down! Even now I'm having trouble putting into words how and why I loved this book so much. Let's start from the beginning and I will try to explain why I thought this book was so great (with emphasis on the word try here). Easily one of the things that I loved most about this book was the premise. Falling in love with your would be assassin sounds next to impossible if I'm being entirely honest. The author took this story line and made me believe in it. From the very beginning I was wary but this author managed to pull me in and want it to work. I found that I was behind Christopher and Millie's relationship from the first time that they met and was very eager to see how they would work everything out. How Millie was ever going to be able to fully trust Christopher was beyond me but I wanted her to. Basically I was reading this one just with the willingness that goes along with instantly trusting the author to take me on an emotional ride. I was all in and this book definitely was able to make me feel all of the emotions. One of the other things that I enjoyed about this book was the chemistry between Christopher and Millie. These two had some serious chemistry going on and it was hot! I especially loved how we were able to see Christopher open up slowly but surely. He was so closed off at the beginning of the book and I loved seeing how he changed. I was also very intrigued by the story line and trying to figure out who wanted Millie dead and why. It made this book much more fast paced as it constantly felt like there was danger lurking around every corner. I found myself reading this book constantly and fitting in chapters whenever I could. I just needed to see how it was all going to end. This book also had one of the more creepy villains that I have come across and there was a scene towards the end of this book that was so intense! By the end of this book I was at the point where I knew I wasn't setting it down and had to finish. The ending was absolutely perfect in my opinion. I ended this one with a smile on my face even though I was sad to see the book come to an end. I loved these characters so much and am hoping that we will see more of Christopher and Millie in future books. Overall, this was such an engaging and unique historical romance. This is a book that I won't be forgetting any time soon and will definitely be rereading at some point. I have read some good historical romance lately but this one is one of my favorites by far. I love how the author took a relationship that I totally thought wouldn't work and made me believe in it. This was a book that put me through the wringer emotionally but I loved every minute of it. I just plain loved this book! Luckily for me I have the first book in this series to look forward to. I won't be waiting long to read it. Highly recommended but especially to those historical romance readers. Bottom Line: One of the best historical romances that I've read in a long time. Sigh....I loved it! Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.
Reviewed by Francesca and posted at Under The Covers Book Blog I am so excited that I have found a great new series to love and follow! When I discovered the first book in this series it took me by surprise, and while I enjoyed this one a bit less than that one, I can honestly say there’s something uniquely alluring about this series and this author’s writing that will keep me coming back for more! Onto THE HUNTER. This book grabbed me from the intense and gut wrenching prologue. Our hero, Christopher, is just a kid. Born in jail, from a prostitute mother. He’s forced to grow up with a thicker skin than most. Made even thicker after witnessing his mother’s brutal rape and murder. Now, a killer by hire, he’s left unfeeling and hardened. Until he meets his next mark. Actress Millie LeCour. Dark for a historical, right? I absolutely love that about this series. While the premise of this book was very unique and I found myself deeply interested, I think it had some ups and downs. We still have the incredibly dangerous hero as with book 1, but somehow his immediate attraction to Millie softened him a bit too much or too fast for my liking. Nevertheless, this was an enjoyable read. I was rooting for our heroine the whole time because she was absolutely amazing. From her life choices and sacrifices to how she handled that dangerous man. I give her kuddos for standing her ground when she had to and being the caretaker when needed. All in all it’s a solid addition to the series and leaves me once again wanting to read more from this author. I love that she’s taking risks with her storylines and giving us something different!
Christopher is an assassin - a cold blooded, merciless killer. (well, at least that's his reputation, which, truth be told, is well earned). He takes contracts and fulfills them, not caring particularly whether the intended victim is deserving of their fate. He doesn't kill children, and he doesn't abuse women. He is quick and efficient. When he's tasked with killing Millie, a stage actress with a young son, he does what he always does for a mark - scopes them out, finds their weaknesses, and moves in for the kill. Millie believes him to be a fan when she first meets Christopher at the after party of one of her performances, and when he sequesters her away in a private room, she's not averse to exploring the attraction she feels for him. And suddenly, Christopher finds that he can't do it. He can't kill her - with his hands on her throat, he ends up kissing her instead. Shaken by the experience, he retreats, gathers his courage and strikes again in her home - and again, he is unable to kill her, especially when her young son calls out for her in the night. Realizing that Christopher means her harm, Millie pleads only that he will not hurt her son. That plea is a strike to Christopher's heart, memories of his own childhood, and his own pleas to protect his mother, stifling any urge to wreak any more havoc on this woman. Instead he becomes her protector. Someone wants to kill her, someone who has hired the best, and who won't be pleased that the job hasn't been accomplished. Christopher's attraction to Millie is something he can't deny, feelings he's never had for any other woman, and he'll be damned if he'll let her be killed before he gets to explore them further. What follows then is a game of cat and mouse, as Millie and Christopher draw closer together, all while others are on the hunt. Will the best hunter in London, be bested by another or will love prevail? Christopher was such an intriguing and complex character! On the surface he is an emotionless machine. In fact he prides himself on this, as it's evidence that he has survived a horrible childhood and made something of himself, even if that something is a reputation for murder. It's hard to be empathetic towards him until you find out all the details of his life. As those come to light, his actions, while not excusable, are at least understandable. His relationship with Millie is what saves him of course. She cracks his armor, first by reminding him of his mother and her willingness to do anything to protect her son, then by showing her strength and fortitude no matter the circumstances. He makes a deal with her to share her bed in return for his protection. The result is some steamy love scenes between the couple. While at first this is only for sexual satisfaction (on Christopher's part), it becomes clear early on that there is an abundance of feelings between them that won't be denied, and soon Christopher experiences what it's like to love someone. This is problematic for him as it is a weakness that his enemies can exploit. The only solution therefore is to track these enemies and make sure they are no longer a threat. The plot moves swiftly, with lots of action and suspense as the mystery of who wants Millie dead is slowly revealed. I really enjoyed the behind the scenes look at Millie's stage work, as well as how she copes with the suddenness of her life turning upside down. I loved how the story played out and it was an exciting read! 4.5 stars.
I've not read the first book in this series and it's really not essential to the storyline in this one, but I just have to go back and read it so I have a fuller picture of these assassins. Christopher Argent was born and raised in Newgate Prison. I did not realized that a child born in prison was actually raised there. That absolutely blew my mind. It certainly has you weighing the importance of Nature vs Nurture. It also had me googling Newgate and being even more horrified. This prison was still used up until 1902. While this is a pretty dark story for a romance, there was some humor and Millie's "son" to lighten it a bit. I loved the mystery but had been fairly certain about midways through who was behind the kidnappings and murders. I especially enjoyed the fact that the story did not revolve around the upper class but more around those of the lower class levels. This was a pretty fast paced story (though it did drag a bit in the middle) and I read it in the space of less than 24 hours. One thing I especially loved about it was that it had me hunting up as much as I could on Newgate prison and indulging in my love of history. I always appreciate a story that keeps me thinking about aspects of it long after I've finished it.
This is not your average historical. This one has a bit of a dark side, Christopher is an assassin and doesn’t care who he kills, good or bad. Millicent is Christopher’s next job, when she learns that he is hired to kill her she is afraid yet there is something about him that attracts her. This story has lots of drama and suspense. I admit the story is a bit slow in parts and sometimes Christopher annoyed me a bit but overall I really liked this book and would recommend.
Kerrigan Byrne’s second book in her Victorian Rebel’s series, The Hunter, speaks to the heart as well as the head. Reaching deeply into the inner recesses of the human condition this was a powerful read that was exquisitely and compassionately illustrated by the immense writing talent of Ms. Byrne. Drawn from horrific circumstances this story exemplified that no matter how cut off from humanity someone has become there is always hope that whatever remnants of long buried feelings can be revived. Watching the hero and heroine of this work rise above abominable circumstances and fill in the fractures of their broken hearts with love was an incredible reading experience. The Hunter will leave you contemplating it far beyond its last page. *I received this ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.* *While part of a series this book can be read as a stand alone.*
Powerful, provocative and potent – this wonderful story captured me from the first page. I felt sorry for young Christopher Argent and then was sucked in again by who and what he had become as an adult. He was strong, resilient, intelligent and lethal…but, was he more than just a cold blooded killer? And, Millie…lovely Millie…she was a beautiful and charming actress who was also scrapper, defender, giver, mother and lover…but would she stay safe and find her happily ever after? Into the mix add a nine year old boy, another evil assassin, someone out to kill women and steal children, and some of the gang that must have appeared in the previous book – the one I hope to find on the bookshelves where I live – though that is doubtful here in Lebanon – I might have to wait till I return to the States to find it. The writing was tight, the suspense taut, the love scenes steamy, the characters multi-faceted and the story…a whole lot of fun…it kept me reading on a very cold day and never let me go or let me down. This is the first book I have read by this author but it will not be my last one! Thank you to NetGalley and Saint Martin’s Paperbacks for the copy of this book to read and review.