Zero at the Bone - Jane Seville This book was incredibly well written by Jane Seville and has all the ingredients for a great read....action, kidnapping, courtroom drama, car chases, shoot outs, a big dose of humour and a beautifully told romance between two very unlikely characters.

5 Glorious Stars

Issac Jones

We meet Dr. Jack Francisco in a Police interview room, still covered in the blood of a woman he saw murdered, before his very eyes.....Maria Dominguez. She was due to testify against her ex husband, one of the Dominguez Brothers for his part in the Brothers illegal drug trade operation. In this underworld of crime...all threats are illiminated.

Jack was scared....very scared. Sitting in a room with faceless, suited men, bombarding him with questions, repeating the same answers over and over again, he is confused and bewildered. He is about to be whisked away into witness protection....to become anonymous, to become a nobody. Checked out of his previous life as a top surgeon which he had trained for and worked hard to achieve. All his dreams and future life would be gone.....He has witnessed a crime and with all his well meant notions of good verses evil, he was prepared to stand up for what was right and testify and so far, HE, was still alive.....but for how long?

D is an assassin, a hired cold blooded killer. He has no past. He has no name. He has no life. He is like a machine and performs like a robot, without feeling or concern. He gets a hit, does the hit, moves on......simple! Mmmmm....except he does have a code, no kids, no women and no innocents. So when his handler asks him to take the hit on Jack and he refuses...someone else has other plans and blackmails D into taking it!

So our two MC's meet. Jack, in witness protection, on a never ending loop of boredom filled with mind numbing nothing-ness, goes hiking to relieve the tedium, try to exhaust himself to escape the futility of it all. Arriving home he finds a man, sitting in a chair in the shadows (heart was pounding at this point, all kinds of "Oh No" and expletives, entering my head). When he, cool as you like, stands slowly all quiet menace and deadly intent, lanky frame, shorn hair, stubble and sunglasses! inside.....really! (OK at this point I was drooling and open mouthed in anticipation) Jack knows he is going to die and surprisingly embraces it, as he no longer has to live in fear of it.......So, OK, we know he does't go through with it, as that would be the end of the story!!

Jack is fascinated by D and his analytical brain wanted answers, he wanted to know what was beneath that steely resolve. He should be afraid and in a way he was. But he had seen that small display of emotion from the man that had been hired to kill him, with his indecision when faced with the kill shot. So stilted and unemotional was D that Jack started referring to him as Hal (2001-Space Odyssey computer) in his mind. In fact Jack did a lot of talking to himself, arguing with himself, his inner monologue and musings were hilarious, and it was fun to watch his constant indecision.

As we see more of D we are let inside the complex gates and barriers he hides behind. He has a heart and Jack is slowly wearing those defences down, he can see beyond this persona that D has created and he doesn't see the coldness and the cruelty....there is more to D. Only D cannot see past the darkness and is unable to remember what life was like without it, he wants to protect Jack from it, he wants him to remain the kind, funny innocent man that he is.

The relationship evolves amongst all the madness and it is both beautiful and tender in all its complexities. It is fragile and tentative as D lets Jack in, past the barriers, to see the tragedy and hurt that have framed this man into "D" he slowly crawls out of the darkness and is desperate to keep hold of the man that trusts him and has opened his heart to what life can truly be like.

I loved this book, the voices of the two MC's are so distinct, their personalities were intense and so real, I could see them and hear them in my minds eye. I did struggle however with D's accent for the first few pages, unable to decipher it, but when I got the southern drawl, that was all 'D' their voices were perfect and I was on a roll.

Which brings me to my only gripe with regard to Zero. When I read I like to have an image and voice to go with the character, this is usually provided by the author with snippets of information at the beginning to help us build a picture of this person of persons in our mind. Even though we are given a full description of D's look, all drool-worthy and lusciousness that he is, the same is not true of Jack. We learn early on he has blue eyes..that's it! Later on towards the end we finally learn he has dark hair...that's it! Which also goes for the accent, which was OK for me but I know a few people have has issue with, if it was pointed out that D was a southern boy, it would all have been good.

There are some sex scenes in this book and the build up to them was amazing, all tummy flutters and anticipation, only to fall flat on the deed. My original theory, was that as the barriers were broken down, it would improve and it did slightly, but it was still all fired up to only deliver a sizzle. Having said that, this book is more about the emotional connection that develops over time, rather than the sex and that was all fine with me, even though I am sure a few of my pervy friends would say otherwise!!

Issac Jones