Review: KISS AT YOUR OWN RISK by Stephanie Rowe

Review: KISS AT YOUR OWN RISK by Stephanie Rowe

Trinity Harpswell is a cursed Black Widow-death and mayhem are all part of the job description. If she can manage to go just one more week without accidentally killing someone, she'll break this killer curse and put her Black Widow days behind her.

When sexy Blaine Underhill III shows up at her door and asks for her help rescuing his friend from the clutches of Death's evil grandma, Trinity gets pulled into a daring high stakes adventure. As Blaine and Trinity join forces to take down a series of underworld assassins, they may just learn that love is the deadliest game of all.
Publisher: Sourcebooks, January 2011

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Single Title/Series: KISS AT YOUR OWN RISK is Book One in the Soulfire Series.

Cover Thoughts: Love it! The fiery blaze is super eye catching as well as the quote from J.R. Ward. *wink* And I like the tag line "Should she kiss him... Or kill him?"

Why I Read It: I received an Advanced Review Copy from the Publisher.

My Review:

The Plot:

KISS AT YOUR OWN RISK boasts a convoluted and topsy-turvey plot making for one hell of a thrill ride. Trinity Harpswell is in quite the predicament. Just a few short days remain before she'll beat her killing Black Widow curse and resume the normal life she's always wanted. Of course nothing can be easy and Trinity soon finds herself contracted to kill not one but two people or her beloved father dies. Having had the two most understanding parents in the world, what with having to relocate during the course of her life after four unplanned murders, there's no way that Trinity is letting her father die at her expense and she'll gladly loose her soul to the Black Widow to save him.

You see, Trinity is not a bad person. She wants to fall in love, get married and have babies one day but her blasted curse always manages to get in the way. Once Trinity looses her heart to a man, she can't stop her curse from unveiling the perfect way to kill him and then following through with sickening glee. For the last five years she's done her best to look totally unappealing to the opposite sex, dating only the most disgusting of men to have some kind social life in the interim as she waits for the clock to tick down to the final moment. If she makes it five whole years without killing, the curse is broken. And her plan has been a success thus far but Trinity soon becomes number one on the Otherworlder's Most Wanted List and talk of being between a rock and a hard place is a universal understatement.

Blaine Underhill is in desperate need of a Black Widow and Trinity Harpswell is on his list as the most powerful and better yet, the closest. After he and his team of warriors escaped a centuries long imprisonment, they were forced to leave a good man behind but Blaine has every intention of rescuing his friend and killing the black witch that gleefully tortured them. Problem is, Angelica is one seriously whacked out bitch of witch and so far she's proved to be impervious to all murder attempts hence Blaine's need for Trinity. Her Black Widow will show them how the witch can be killed and he has plans of making very good use of Trinity's curse.

As lusciously hot as Blaine might be, Trinity doesn't find it all too hard to resist the bad ass warrior. The man wants to selfishly use her and then kill her! Yup, no heart-stopping, Black Window inducing attractive qualities there but Blaine's her only chance at potentially saving her father without having to succumb to her spider. Taking whatever boon she can get, Trinity agrees to help Blaine kill Angelica if he helps her save her father in return. Now it's just a waiting game to see who will renege first....

The Heroine:

Despite the fact that the girl has murdered four men, Trinity is immediately endearing. She doesn't want to kill and being stuck with her Black Widow curse has been nothing short of a nightmare. Imagine murdering the man you love the moment you realize you're in love? It helps that the reader is immediately introduced to a small but important group of people that care deeply for Trinity. She's surrounded by people who love her no matter what and there's obvious and deserved comfort in the arms of her parents and best friend Reina. But still, Trinity suffers understandably from low self esteem and a crippling sense that she's just as evil as the spider that crawls around her psyche. She just wants to be normal and find a wonderful man to spend her life with. She has every day dreams just like every day women making her incredibly easy to relate to and root for.

The Hero:

Blaine is rather ruthless but understandably so. He's also got a healthy complex where women are concerned and again, it's understandable. But the man has a heart and despite his immediate distrust of Trinity, her blunt honesty and sad self image quickly endears her to him. It might take the man a while to admit it, but he likes her and he feels pretty awful about using her but just like Trinity, Blaine's in a tough spot where he has to make a choice.

The best aspect of this hero is that Blaine fully and unquestionably accepts Trinity for who she is, curse and all. If there's one thing this warrior understands its death and her curse makes sense to him in a way that has Trinity striving desperately to see herself in the same light Blaine does without succumbing to the burgeoning love she's beginning to feel for him. There's something about Blaine's acceptance that make love the next step. It's not a given like with her parents and Reina, instead his acceptance is completely optional yet he offers it freely and without a second thought.

My Final Thoughts:

KISS AT YOUR OWN RISK hosts a throw-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink plot that feels a bit contrived and over the top on numerous occasions but still made for a pleasurable but often times confusing reading experience. Fast paced and more than a little overwhelming, the author throws it all at you time and again reminiscent of an automatic machine gun. Pow! Pow! Pow! In addition to the ping ball plot, the humor felt a bit forced and too rehearsed as though everything is said after much thought and while made to look witty and random, instead it comes off as pre-planned and robotic. Buuuuut, there's a lot of page time here and a lot going on so I found that there was a teetering balance between what I liked and what I didn't. Upon closing the last pages, I felt both disappointment and pleasure making this rating an easy smack dab in the middle.

Trinity and Blaine are enjoyable characters and surprisingly perfect foils for one another. If you didn't notice already, I'm quite enamored with Blaine and his easy and unquestionable acceptance of Trinity. He helps her believe in herself as no one else can nor has. I think that's what we want from people we're close to, acceptance, and more often than not it's the hardest reciprocating emotion we can achieve both within ourselves and from others. Besides, the already burdened plot would have collapsed if Blaine was unwilling to accept Trinity along with her curse.

Finally, I was left with some unanswered questions. This is somewhat weird and doubly disappointing considering the complex plotting but I never once understood the how's or why's Blaine and his band of warriors were immortal nor was there any explanation for their "gifts". For instance, Blaine can light his whole body on fire, throw fire balls, and create numerous weapons out of flames but why??? There's no origin for anything, no back history. This is only one example but there's many questions as to why certain people have certain paranormal abilities. I would have liked more. Perhaps a slowdown on the quips and more detail on the how.

For Paranormal Romance lovers that crave snarky and abundant humor, constant no-time-to-rest action, and a whole lot of hunky man flesh, KISS AT YOUR OWN RISK might be worth all the peril and doom that the title implies. For you, it just might be worth the risk. Enjoy!


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Blodeuedd said...

I just assumed that Angelica had made him like that...but ye, how? Now you made me thing

Barbara said...

You understand and love paranormal romances far more than me, but I'd have to agree to wanting the "why's" in a lot of things. Why can he do this, why can she do that. So, I'd have to agree with you in that.

Sorry the book gave you the all over ping pong effect. You gave us a wonderfully written and though out review, though.

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...


I don't know, I love paranormal romance, and the more kick-ass the better. Probably still give it a try. I love action packed hold on to the edge of seat fast paced reads!

Dottie :)

Mandi said...

I've heard this one has SO much going on...Maybe book two will settle down a bit...

VampFanGirl said...

I believe that you could totally be right, Blodeuedd. And with so much going on, I could have missed that morsel of information. Angelica did put the tulip tatoo on maybe Blaine's works the same way...but what about Trinity's mom? Why can she do what she can do? Are they all immortal? There's just no clear rules to world and rules are essential in paranormal worldbuilding.

Hugs, VFG


Hey Barbara!

Most of the time, world rules are pretty easy to pick up and understand. Plus it helps that most plots are beating against the rules so they naturally become more ingrained as the story progresses. This book just has a hodge-podge of creatures with no reasoning for their existance. I'm willing to give Stephanie Rowe another go though. I like Reina, Trinity's best friend so I kinda want to see what's in store for her.

Hugs, VFG


Hey Dottie!!

Well girl, if you like ramped up action and crazy plots, this is definitely the book for you. Enjoy!:)

Hugs, VFG


Here's hoping Mandi!

Hugs, VFG

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