Review: SKIN HEAT by Ava Gray

More wild thing than man…
Zeke Noble has escaped from a secret facility; he has no idea why he was abducted, but the experiments were cruel, soul-killing, and they changed him forever. Now free, his natural affinity with animals has evolved into a dark and dangerous instinct, a curse that costs him too much of his humanity. But he has to rebuild his life, or his tormentors win. To that end, he goes looking for work and finds so much more.

Born to be wild…
Veterinarian Geneva Harper finds herself reluctantly drawn to the lean, mysterious young man to whom the wild is second nature, but she has troubles of her own. She’s the black sheep in an old moneyed Southern family, and she never had any interest in learning the family business, or being the good debutante daughter.

Though Zeke’s wanted Neva for as long as he can remember, their attraction can never go anywhere. They both know that for different reasons. But when a killer starts leaving behind a trail of victims, Zeke’s need to protect her is as fierce as his desire to claim her as his mate. And love may be the only thing that can save them both…

Author: Ava Gray
Series: Skin Series, book 3
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year of release: 2011, January 4
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Source: Received a digital ARC from author for review

First line:
All the animals were gone.

Memorable Scenes:
– Neva listening/spying on Zeke’s self-pleasuring > this was an important scene to the romance and for the balance between Zeke and Neva…not to mention it was HOT

Zeke Noble is one of the escapees from the underground facility from SKIN TIGHT. Zeke is something else. He had my admiration from the very start of this book with the way he tried to cope with what had been done to him and getting back his life. He has an affinity with animals because of what was done to him. His quirkiness made him extremely likeable and a memorable character in this series. I really loved how Zeke talked in short sentences and few words. It wasn’t an abundance of words and yet they conveyed so very much. Can’t praise Ava Gray enough for her creation of Zeke.

Geneva ‘Neva’ Harper comes from money but decided to become a vet and work for a living. She has a problematic and complicated relationship with her parents especially since her twin brother Luke disappears without a trace. She’s self-sufficient, emotion-driven and a fixer. She’s also a caretaker, always making sure other people’s (and animal’s) needs are taken care of and thereby losing sight of her own needs.

In the beginning of the book I did feel it was a bit less intense or fast-paced than the previous two books in the series. It felt less powerful or intense than books 1 and 2 but this doesn’t mean I enjoyed it less. I loved reading Zeke and Neva’s story and was intrigued by the serial killer angle in the suspense. It took me a while to finish SKIN HEAT but this had nothing to do with the book. A limited amount of time to read made it a slow read, not the book itself. I was forced to read it in small increments of a few pages at a time, which gave me time to slowly savor every bit of it.

The suspense part and the romance part did feel like two completely separate parts of the book until the very end, when it was all brought together with Neva and her family as the connecting factors. Every time I was reading the suspense stuff, the killer’s POV or Emile Herbert’s POV I would have the feeling I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting to find out the why of it all and see how everything was connected. And I must say it wasn’t until right before the ‘big reveal’ scene that I knew the why and who of the suspense plot.

SKIN HEAT is the book in the series up till now with the least paranormal feel to it. To me it felt more romantic suspense-like than the first two books. At least it did right until the end, at that moment Ava Gray reminded me that this series does have paranormal elements and they cannot be denied. Ever since the first book in this series there has been the discussion of whether the books are paranormal or romantic suspense. To me they are romantic suspense with a paranormal element but quite frankly I couldn’t care less in what subgenre to put these books because there’s absolutely no doubt that SKIN HEAT and its predecessors qualify as romance with a capital R.

I’ve said it before and will say it again: Ava Gray’s writing mesmerizes me. From the very first page I’m drawn into the characters, their story and the writing. These books should be turned into a movie or TV series. They’re written creating such a vivid and imaginative imagery that I can effortlessly picture them on a screen.

The suspense plot with the serial killer, Zeke’s back-story and his paranormal abilities all take a backseat to the beautifully written romance between Neva and Zeke. That was what made this book memorable to me and made me enjoy it just as much as I did the previous installments despite the slightly less powerful impact it had on me. Ava Gray is on my keeper shelves, on my auto-buy list and she’s there to stay. Bring on the next book, please Ms Gray!

Favorite Quotes:
Back then, he’d thought she looked like a fawn, all legs and eyes. Now she had curves, the kind that made a man want to see how deep the softness ran.

He didn’t think there was a word for what he felt for her, some awful mix of adoration and helpless longing. And it knotted up inside him, leaving him mute and sick with the impossibility of it.

“You like this?” She knew the answer. She just wanted to hear his voice again, raw with passion.
“Love,” he growled. “Love.”
He imbued that one word with impossible layers of meaning—somehow, spoken so, it became endearment, demand, and declaration.


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