Heart of a Killer by Yolanda WallaceHeart of a Killer by Yolanda Wallace is part romance, part thriller, and part mystery. It’s about making tough decisions in life in order to place love over fear.

Contract killer Santana Masters has room in her life for only one thing – her next assignment and the lucrative payment that goes with it. She lives a well-ordered life with no emotional attachments. At any given moment she slips into one of many aliases, allowing her to inhabit a persona that will help her carry out her next hit. She’s been a gun for hire for over twenty years, but when she has a chance meeting with a beautiful stranger, she’s tempted to do the one thing she’s managed to avoid – let someone into her heart.

Brooklyn DiVincenzo is CEO of one of the country’s fastest growing tech companies. While in Japan, a charismatic woman comes to her aid when a bar patron won’t take, “No” for an answer. Their meeting is fleeting. Brooklyn gives the captivating stranger her phone number and returns to New York to get back to running her company and her nonexistent social life.

Santana finds her herself in New York under an alias for her next hit. She doesn’t know why somebody wants Charlotte Evans dead, but it’s not part of her job to know. Once she’s situated with her sniper’s rifle and ready to take her shot, she realizes the woman she’s about to kill is engaged in lively conversation with Brooklyn. In the moment Santana hesitates, another sniper puts a bullet in Charlotte’s head.

Brooklyn’s world is turned upside down when her best friend, Charlie is murdered right before her eyes. She doesn’t have time to grieve. She’s got a company to run and employees looking to her for emotional stability. She’s surprised when she gets a call from the tall, dark, and handsome woman she met in Japan and even more surprised to learn she’s in New York. Brooklyn feels like the coincidence is just the opportunity she needs to take her mind off the tragedy she’s dealing with.

The two women fall hard for each other. Santana has never let anyone into her heart, but when Brooklyn unexpectedly finds out who she really is, will it derail their chance for a happily ever after?

The Characters

Wallace describes Santana as a cross between Cary Grant and Bruno Mars. That’s a winning combination any way you look at it. Readers either want to be her or want to be with her. Santana doesn’t take any pleasure in being an assassin. Through a series of events when she way young, it’s the life she was trained for, and the man who manipulates her future will stop at nothing to keep her under his control. This means she’s spent her life alone, knowing the moment she gets emotionally attached to someone it could lead to their death. It was intriguing to watch Santana put her feelings for Brooklyn ahead of all the safeguards she’s used to keep her life ordered and uncomplicated. It was out of character for her, but Santana couldn’t help herself. I know in a romance, love conquers all, but I couldn’t see how Santana was going to get her freedom and the woman of her dreams.

Brooklyn is a shy, awkward coder. After she witnesses Charlie’s murder, she feels like she’s sleepwalking through life. It seems like it would be an odd time to embark on a whirlwind romance, but she’s looking for something to help her cope. What’s interesting is the more time she spends with Santana her confidence grows, and she finds the wherewithal to effectively lead her company. I like that she had no problem taking charge in the bedroom despite Santana’s dominant nature. I knew at some point she was going to find out Santana’s true identity, and I’m so glad Wallace didn’t take the easy way out and have Brooklyn forgive Santana a few chapters later. Brooklyn’s smart and independent. If she’d taken Santana back with open arms, I may have lost a little respect for her. Wallace handles all of that nicely. She makes the reader wait almost to the end of the book to see what Brooklyn decides to do.

The Writing Style

The book is written from both women’s point of view. The reader gets to see Brooklyn’s bouts of suspicion when it comes to Santana, and it’s fascinating how she justifies them. She’s falling in love with Santana, and she wants to live that dream. Being in Santana’s point of view is important because it’s vital to know she’s not an assassin because she enjoys killing. It would be very hard to identify with a character who’s without a conscience.

The pacing kept me engaged. I knew Santana’s identity would eventually be revealed. I was on edge waiting because I knew it would upend Brooklyn and Santana’s relationship. The reader also gets to accompany Santana on what’s supposed to be her last assignment. That in itself was a nail-biter.

The Pros

I loved all the bits and pieces Wallace uses to develop Santana’s character. Between her wardrobe, the weapons she uses, her apartment, and where she takes Brooklyn on dates, a complex character takes shape. Even the way Santana inhabits the various aliases she uses adds to understanding her character. Little touches like Santana’s lack of cooking skills make her human. When she takes Brooklyn to a restaurant that serves authentic Filipino cuisine, it signals Santana is willing to show Brooklyn the woman behind the façade. These are nice touches that make Santana very three dimensional.

The Cons

I love a good action novel, especially when it involves women kicking ass. I wish there had been a little more physical violence in the scenes where Santana is doing what she does best. That’s just one of my odd quirks.

The Conclusion

I mostly read romance. Girl falls for girl, something tears them apart, then they make-up and live happily ever after. Make no mistake, Heart of a Killer is a romance, but it’s got action and mystery elements that make it a little more fun and fresh. I love a criminal with a heart of gold, and Santana fits that description perfectly. This book is entertaining and a nice change if you’re looking for something a little more exciting than the standard formulaic romance.

Excerpt from Heart of a Killer by Yolanda Wallace

“Will you allow me to buy you a drink to express my appreciation for your act of chivalry?”

The woman flashed that charming smile again. “If you’re offering, I’m not about to turn down a free drink.”

Brooklyn caught a roving waitress’s eye. “What would you like?” she asked as the waitress made her way over to their table.

The woman claimed the seat across from Brooklyn. “Scotch. Neat. A twenty-year-old single malt if they have it. Twelve if they don’t.”

Classic. Understated. Brooklyn had no idea who this woman was, but she liked her style. Her dark hair was short and parted on one side, making her look like a distaff Cary Grant. She didn’t have the legendary actor’s English accent, but her bearing and mannerisms were just as suave as his had been on the silver screen.

“Thank you for the drink,” the woman said after the waitress left to fill their order.

“I think my expense account can afford to take the hit.”

The woman’s smile turned playful. The first time during their brief time together that Brooklyn had seen her let her guard down. The stoic guardian angel thing had its merits, but this was a good look, too. “I won’t tell your boss if you don’t.”

“Too late,” Brooklyn said with a wink. “She already knows.” “

The woman at the top of the food chain, huh?”

“Guilty as charged.”

“Color me impressed. And thank you for confirming my suspicions about you.”

“Who do I have to thank for coming to my rescue?”

The woman’s gray eyes sparkled with a hint of mischievousness. “On a night like this in a setting like this, I find anonymity works best, don’t you?”

If Brooklyn had thought the woman couldn’t possibly get any more alluring, she had been woefully off the mark.

“I like a bit of mystery every now and then,” she said, “but I have to call you something. How about Tall, Dark, and Handsome? Does that work?”

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781635555479
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

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