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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

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Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

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"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Spotless by Camilla Monk

Spotless - Camilla Monk, Amy McFadden

4.3ish stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When Island opened the door to her apartment and found a man standing there with his back to her going through her filed taxes, she had no idea how her mundane normal world was about to be shook up. Questioning her about a 2 billion dollar diamond March, the tax papers organizer, doesn't like the answers he is getting and decides to kidnap her. On the run with a hitman, who is slowly starting to look like her safest port in the storm, Island begins to learn that her seemingly previous boring life may have just all been a lie.
 
Spotless is the first in a series by newcomer Camilla Monk and is a fabulous debut; the writing is topnotch. The story was suspenseful, intriguing, humorous, and most importantly interesting. It is completely told from our heroine Island's point of view, I did miss hero March's take on things but nevertheless, Island was a good leader. The story takes us from New York, Paris, and to Tokyo with enough details to fill in the scenery, place you mentally there, and make it believable. The pace is steady as we learn along with Island that her mother may have been even more of an adventuress than she knew and travel along with her and March as both try and fight their attraction for one another. There was some good tension and humorous thoughts and moments while Island and March struggled to maintain their distance as it would have been equally dangerous for either one to succumb.
 
Island was a fun character to follow with her realness and slightly quirky thoughts. She was an interesting blend of sheltered naïve worldliness; in her childhood she traveled the world with her mother but never attended schools, at fifteen when she goes to live with her father she lacks the knowledge of how to interact at her new school and becomes a bit of a social outcast. March had his own quirkiness with his OCD, which lent to some playful moments but also respectfully showcased the compulsive aspect. As I mentioned, we never get March's pov which had him coming off a little stiff (not in the good way) to me as the reader, I get he is supposed to come off that way to Island but I would have really enjoyed seeing/reading his emotion towards our heroine at times. Their relationship was slightly slow moving as I could have stood to see more closeness from them. My issue with this could stem from the fact that this is a pretty clean romance, no pervy payoffs here. Fundamentally though, the humor and danger between them may go a bit off kilter on occasion but ultimately they work and this was what I liked so much about them.
 
There were also a handful of secondary characters that brilliantly did their job in adding compelling pieces to the story without clogging or stealing the spotlight from our leads. It was about 20% in when I thought this book really hit its stride and it was around the 60-80% mark that I thought things started to slow down. Our couple starts to go in a circle and the action side of the plot starts to get a tad long but I also don't know what should have been cut because the steps to finding the diamond were all needed, maybe Island's mother shouldn't have been so clever.
 
While I won't quite call it a cliffhanger, the ending of this book is clearly not the ending of Island and March's story, so be prepared to lock yourself into continuing with the series. As this is a new author and wondering about comparisons, I would say you could fit this book comfortably between “Agnes and the Hitman" by Jennifer Crusie and "Cloak and Dagger" by Nenia Campbell. If you're in the mood for a jocular bit off center suspense with a dash of romance involving shady world organizations, the shady men and women who work for them, a broody caring OCD hitman, and a plucky heroine lost in the mix and falling love, then you must give this book a try. There is also the delightful bonus of each chapter starting with a quote from a fake romance book that lightheartedly pokes fun at what makes us love so much and groan over in the romance genre.