God, they were such a mess. No. He was a mess. She was just far too tangled up in his mess.
This was my first Sonali Dev book, so I was new to her style and composition and I think that might have hurt the rating a bit.
At first I thought this was going to have a scifi/paranormal component but then quickly learned it was going in the more slow burning criminal thriller arena. I would categorize this more as fiction with romance; definitely not your typical romance genre read.
Our heroine Jess purposely collides with our hero Nic. Nic lost his wife two years ago, she was helping with a police case involving a blackmarket organ transfer business. He was forced to watch while they raped and then murdered her. Jess tells him that she received his wife's heart in a transplant and that she can "hear" his wife telling her to find important evidence for the case. Jess has her own issues with surviving a rape when she was seventeen and the emotional fallout that comes with that.
The first half is mostly Nic's pain over losing his wife, dealing with her death and how she never told him she was helping with the case, putting her life and her pregnancy in jeopardy. We get insight into why Jess is doing what she is and how Jess and Nic are experiencing some chemistry but are too tied up in their pain to fully acknowledge or know how to act on it.
Why had he started this? Why couldn't he look away from her eyes? Those eyes. He wanted her to stop, wanted to take back ever wanting to know. But those eyes were so filled with the need to have someone see and not turn away, he couldn't turn away from them.
Even with such a start, the second half of the story I think is even more painful. We get a deeper insight to what Jess has lived through and there was some incredible dialogue and thoughts on how Jess deals with the pain and rape culture. We also get a breakthrough with Nic and Jess allowing themselves to reach out to one another. This was a bit hard for me to fully connect with. Even though Nic has been in pain for two years, as the reader, I'm new to it and even though his healing starts here I had problems transitioning from the pain to new romance; it didn't flow completely smooth for me.
Nic's family are from the previous books in the series and their connection and relationships filled out the story beautifully. There were also povs from Rahul, the cop Nic's wife was helping and who helps explain the criminal mystery part and is clearly being set-up for a book of his own and from the villain. The villain pov gets pretty dark and graphic at times and was another component of the story that didn't quite mesh with every thing else for me.
I don't want to talk too much about the criminal thriller part or all of Jess' motivations because I don't want to spoil certain points that I think have more impact if you go in blind. If I knew this read more like fiction, I would have skewed my mind that way but I was expecting something a little different. All the components didn't jive for me and the ending seemed a bit rushed but I'm definitely going to be on board for Rahul and Kimi's story. I'm a sucker for love/hate and this couple seemed to positively vibrate with it.