The Gunrunner and Her Hound by Maria Ying is the first installment in a collaborative crime thriller series by authors Benjanun Sriduangkaew and Devi Lacroix. It is a gripping novella centered around an unforgettable, polyamorous trio of women, set in Hong Kong after the fall of western civilization.
The western world has crumbled, ravaged by plague and civil wars while the East has flourished. Yves is an American. She was a child soldier in the Russo-American war and has known nothing but violence for most of her life. Now a professional bodyguard, she yearns to belong to something, or someone.
Born into a powerful family of arms dealers and drug kingpins, Viveca Hua inherits her mother’s arms business after she is betrayed and killed by a rival dealer. Sophisticated and ruthless, her callousness is matched only by her desire for superiority and need to control. Her lifestyle is inherently dangerous and when she finds herself in need of a new bodyguard, Yves is compelling prospect she is unable to resist.
Both women were born into violence and are permanently marked with its scars. They need and compliment each other on a profound level, but is that enough to sustain them in the violent world of Hong Kong’s weapons market even with Fahriye’s steadying influence?
Pros And My Favourite Parts
There are so many things I love about this. The different iterations of power for one. Whether it is the refreshingly different balance of global power presented in this world, or the fluctuation of power dynamics in a D/s style relationship that is perfectly depicted. I am undone by the explosive tug of war that is Viveca and Yves relationship as they grapple between violence and restraint, submission and control. It is a dynamic that would surely implode were it not for Fahriye’s stabilizing effect.
I am in awe at how skilled the authors are at writing sizzling hot sex scenes without being overly descriptive of the act itself.
I love that the characters are on the charcoal end of the morally grey scale, and yet I somehow am invested in them and yearn for their HEA.
I adore the exquisite prose and composition. Formatted as a mosaic novella, we are privy to the thoughts, feelings and motivations of both mains. This insight not only makes them more palatable (we are talking about an ice queen arms dealer and her violent bodyguard here) but helps invest the reader in the story and relate somewhat to what would otherwise be unrelatable characters.
I also love that Maria Ying is both the author of the book and a character in it. It gave me a memoir kind of vibe in which the story is being recounted by the character hinted to be Viveca’s potential protege.
Cons And Heads Up
No cons for me other than a deep yearning to read more! However, if violence, death, PTSD, D/s dynamics and polyamory are not your thing, you may not enjoy this as much as I did.
Seduced by violence may seem rather gauche on its surface, but I am nonetheless seduced by the violent women in this novella. Such is the skill with which they are presented. With incredibly well fleshed out characters, an intriguing world and an exciting plot line, this is a series not to be missed.
Excerpt from The Gunrunner and Her Hound by Maria Ying
I pull off at an overlook, dig into this lukewarm barbecue Fahriye gave me, these scraps from a dead woman’s table. It’s tasty, I guess. Probably would have like a Coke to wash it down, that lasting export of my ruined home. The empire is dead, but its cloying sweetness, the burn of its carbonation—that stays with you, eats at the calcium of your bones and the enamel of your teeth, until the illness is a part of you, forever.
I may be thoughtless in the calories I put into my body. I accept the dehumanization of the looks, the thousand little paper cuts of the soul. But there is within me a thing growing, a destructive need for dignity and control, a desire that grips at me and shakes me from my slumber, a gnawing need to—
Words escape me. That which I need to be, I do not yet know. I cannot find it on any map.
Below, I see the lights of the city. The air is muggy and the wind has died, heavy with promise of a storm still unseen. I sweat under my jacket, but do not move to take it off. The discomfort of wearing it, the vulnerability of being known; that balance stays with me, in all things.
My jacket. Her ties. Her collar. Armor, tool, possession. I have been all three, will be all three again. And yet—
This is at the crux of my roiling thoughts. I have worked for others, taken their poison into myself, become strong with it. But this woman is grotesque in a singular way, possessive, and to stand beside her is to run your hand along a smooth surface of ice, to feel the heat of all that you are bleed into a barren stillness that drinks and drinks but does not melt.
But when she looks at me, I feel known. I feel desired. I feel like I have value, that maybe there is some part of me worth more than blood and bone, a hidden part yet uncharted.
Mistress Hua demands only the finest things, and on her wall of ornaments, she has set a place to mount me, carved out for me alone a place by her side. She wants me, of this I am certain.
And I am so fucked up that instead of running, I need to know why.
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The Gunrunner and Her Hound
The Spy and Her Serpent
Bits and Bobs
ASIN number: B09HNSJCVF
Publisher: Indie Author / Hua Publishing
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