ARC Review: The Heart of a Killer by Jaci Burton

Format: E-booktheheartofakiller
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Series: The Killer, Book 1
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Hero: Dante Renaldi
Heroine: Anna Pallino
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: October 18, 2011
Started On: October 21, 2011
Finished On: October 22, 2011

Sixteen year old Anna Pallino is attacked  in a dark alley and a heart carved on her chest, an assault that haunts her by the sheer brutality and unexpectedness of it. It is only by the intervention of her then boyfriend Dante and his foster brothers Jeff, Roman and Gabe that she escapes with her life intact. But that dark dreary night changes Anna and the relationship she has with the guys she considers as her brothers apart from Dante. When Dante ups and leaves without looking back, Anna is left to lick her wounds in private, battle the fears that seems a part of her since the life altering moment in the alley.

Twelve years later, Dante returns back to his hometown only to bring in his wake the murder of his foster father, in a manner eerily similar to the night of the attack on Anna that had changed Dante’s life for better or worse. The version of Dante that returns is a more lethal and dangerous one, one who has honed the skill of killing down to a fine art. When Dante comes face to face with the newer and harder version of Anna who has been a cop for the past 7 years, Dante knows that his memories of the one woman who had remained in his heart doesn’t do justice to the impact she still has on his heart, body and soul.

With a killer who is willing to play hide and seek with Anna, taunting her with the murders of those dear and close to her, Dante is determined that he would stick by her side and be there for her, a chance he never had 12 years earlier. But what Dante and Anna never figure out is that  the killer is much closer to home than any of them dared to think of, and he is willing to do everything in his power to come out as the winner in this game of cat and mouse that just never seems to end.

The Heart of a Killer is my first Jaci Burton. I have always heard that she writes romances high in sensual content and that was what I expected to find together with suspense of the dark and edgy variety. Though there are moments of toe-curling passion in the book, Jaci Burton seems to have toned down with the sensual aspect of the book and brought out more of the crime-solving aspect. Nevertheless it is obvious that Jaci has got what it takes to deliver a healthy dose of sensuality in her romances and I loved how Dante was patient enough and understanding enough to give Anna exactly what she needs when it comes to physical intimacy.

Dante is a hero who is sweet and dangerous all at the same time. The way he is willing to forgo his wants and needs just because he wants what is best for Anna, and the way he is protective without being overly stifling about it makes him such an endearing character. And though I liked Anna’s character well enough, I just didn’t fall for her as I should have. Anna’s strength and the way she continually battles her fears made me admire her, but I just didn’t feel the “love” when it came to Anna.

The mystery and suspense potion of the story is well done. The person who turned out to be the killer at the end totally surprised me as I was betting everything I had on the wrong person all along. Even then, I felt that at times there was too much rehashing going on of the events that had taken place in the past which diminished my enjoyment factor with the novel as a whole.

Even with certain aspects of the story that didn’t quite wow me, I still managed to enjoy my first Jaci Burton and would rate this as a good read, recommended for fans of the author and fans of police procedural romantic suspense.

Favorite Quotes

She hated that he was here, messing up her life, making her want things she’d wanted for a long time, then pushed to the back of her mind, forcing herself to forget.
She inhaled the scent of him. Big mistake, because God help her, she wanted to put her hands on him, and in that moment she realized the feelings she had for him weren’t dead.

She threw her hands in the air. “Of course I was tense. You were kissing and touching me and I was turned on like crazy. Also, I haven’t had a decent orgasm in like six freaking months. Are you reading my lips here? Six. Months. You’d be tense, too, wouldn’t you?”
Dante gaped at her. Anna threw him a murderous glare.
“Are all men this dense or just you? Jesus, Dante, do I have to draw you a road map to my vagina, or are you grabbing a clue?”

There was no way she could rock against him, filled with him, and not be affected. This wasn’t a quick coupling in the dark—it was no-holds-barred, lights-on, open-eyed lovemaking with a man who wouldn’t accept anything less than her total surrender.

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