Book review: Havok by Riley Rollins

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Vlad, aka Havok, is a hitman for the Russian mafia who moonlights as security in a strip club.  His job is to keep the girls safe.  To make sure that none of the drunk patrons get too handsy.  To keep up the club’s reputation as a classy place rather than a seedy one.  He respects the girls and never tries to use his position of power against them.

Penny used to have dreams.  She used to have plans.  Now, she spends her days with her abusive boyfriend and her nights dancing at the club.  The one bright spot in her day is Havok, the bouncer who won’t even look twice at her.  Penny fantasizes that somehow Havok will save her from what her life has become. Little does she know, Havok wants nothing more than to do exactly that.  But his life is dangerous – more dangerous than the one Penny is currently trapped in.

Okay, so this was my first Riley Rollins book. I don’t usually get into these “dark romances,” but I felt like trying something different, and this was free on Amazon, so I went for it.  Clearly, I didn’t hate it.  I read it in literally one sitting (about an hour and a half or so – it’s very short).  But even at 230 pages, it felt kind of draggy at times.

The one thing I didn’t quite understand was Havok keeping Penny captive.  If you, like me, aren’t into this whole “dark romance” thing, you’re probably thinking whoa whoa whoa, hold up, he keeps her captive?! And that threw me a bit (or a lot) in the beginning.

Without giving away too many spoilers, here’s a brief rundown: Penny witnesses a crime.  She is also in imminent danger from the Russia mafia.  In order to keep her safe – and keep her from going to the police – Havok takes her to his house.  That was all fine and dandy for me. But then he handcuffed her to the bed.  What I don’t understand is this: even before they got together, I felt the connection between Penny and Havok. How hard would it have been for him to say, here’s what’s going on, and I like you and you like me, so let’s just keep you safe in my secret lair until I can straighten this out. No, instead he handcuffs her to the bed.

Aside from that, the book was good but not great. As I said before, it definitely kept me entertained and I was obsessively flipping through to find out what would happen next. There’s no doubt in my mind that Havok was a good guy, but I think some of the things that the author made him do were questionable. But all in all, the book was quick, entertaining, and well-written. If you’re into these kinds of tropes, you could do a lot worse than Havok.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

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