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Skin Game by Ava Gray
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Skin Game

by Ava Gray

Series: Skin (1)

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186791,935 (3.69)9
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» See also 9 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
There is a line half way into this book that after I read it I went - this sums up this book.. "thats both profoundly disturbing and erotic" There are cons on top of cons on top on cons in this book.. No one is who they say they are. This book has an intriguing story. One that is very different than anything I have ever read before. She's a con artist with a "gift" and he's a hitman with a "heart". ( )
  CindySnS | Oct 26, 2016 |
When a book starts off with the heroine holding a guy’s crown jewels literally in her hands — and not the way that you are all probably thinking – I knew I would be in for a real memorable treat of a read. And throughout my marathon reading session, I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

Kyra Beckwith is a con woman and is on the run after publicly fleecing and conning a dangerous mobster, Gerard Serrano, in Las Vegas. Kyra acted in revenge for her father’s murder, which Serrano was responsible, and for the thrill of it. Kyra also has an ability which helps her gain an advantage in her con tricks. Each time she touches someone she gains their leading talent or ability which can be useful to turn against a prospective con victim. But her ability comes with a cost; it leaves her weak, as well as suffering from painful headaches. And if she is touched upon by more than one person, Kyra is overwhelmed and incapacitated. So because of this, she rarely touches anyone or has close relationships due to the painful physical and mental psychic feedback from her touch talent.

However, Serrano does not let Kyra get away with his public humiliation. He hires Reyes, a hitman, to kill her and to retrieve his money. Kyra is hard to trace but when Reyes finally catches up with her, he finds it difficult to fulfil his orders to kill. This becomes more difficult as he starts to discover that there is more to Kyra than he was initially told about. As he gets to know her, he realizes that this contract may not be as clear cut as it seems.

Skin Game is a multi-layered tale of cat and mouse between Kyra and Reyes, who immediately ignite sparks off of each other. Kyra, who is unaware of his true agenda, shares a steamy one night stand with Reyes but manages to slip away unnoticed. Although Kyra slips away, Reyes tracks her down and they both agree to become partners when a con Kyra instigates goes awry, and both of them go on the road to do small time hustles. The battle of wits and wills between Reyes and Kyra was fantastic to see as it really added to to the sexual and emotional tension between them. I loved how disconcerted Reyes became, especially since he was initially cold and detached yet had a charming persona. But his interactions with Kyra cracks his defensive shell and he finds that he is showing her his true self, which affects his mission to kill her.

Kyra is also affected because this is the first time that a man has managed to get close to her and she realises that that she is becoming emotionally as well as physically involved. She realises that her ability doesn’t affect her negatively, and physically while she is with him, and it is the first time she can explore on having a real relationship.
I really loved how both characters, who had strong emotional and psychological defences against the world, and themselves, were able to connect with each other. That definitely added a much needed vulnerable layer to the romance, since both characters do not fit the typical hero/heroine. Kyra initially appeared unlike-able because she is a con-artist, in addition to having a devil-may-care attitude, and Reyes as a hitman, but Ava Gray has created two characters who are multidimensional and very likeable who have issues and experiences that adds to their characterizations. This makes them feel more real and relatable, and I was fully engrossed with their romance. I was especially a little in love with Reyes – who I think is one of the best intriguing heroes I have read in a while and is very reminiscent of a Linda Howard hero: Dangerous memorable and sexy.

Another stand out character was Foster, who is central to the suspense, twists and turns in the plot. He is very mysterious and from the little tidbits that I gleaned from the book has become one of the most unique characters I have come across. If I thought Reyes was dark and dangerous, I have a feeling he has nothing on Foster – who I think will become a very popular character. I cannot wait for his book: Skin Tight, which comes out later next year, to see how his romance with Mia (Kyra’s best friend who is also introduced in this book) pans out.

Like all of Ann Aguirre’s books; this was a very gritty, realistic and fast paced read which is fast becoming her trademark. I loved how she conveyed the extraordinary as real and believable as possible – which is similar in feel to her Corine Soloman series. Skin Game is a clever build up of suspense, and tension with memorable well drawn out characters. And it was one of those books you close with a sigh and a smile (and if my ARC had the cover: Strokable). If you are not a fan of Contemporary suspense, I would highly recommend you pick this up because I really think this book will be a breakout hit this year, and will definitely become a fan favourite.

I give Skin Game 5 out of 5 (I would add more if I could! Loved it!) ( )
  Has_bookpusher | Sep 20, 2013 |

My first book of 2012 and I wasn't disappointed.

Kyra is a con artist, and she loves what she does. She has been groomed for it by her father ever since she was a little girl. One of her greatest assets is her ability to absorb another person's abilities for a short time by mere touch. Her biggest coup was making the powerful and rich casino owner, Gerald Serrano fall in love with her before she relieved him of three million dollars and humiliated him professionally and emotionally. Now he's mad and aims to get even. How does a ruthless thug get even? He hires a hit man to hunt her down and make her disappear, permanently.

Reyes is a tough, dangerous guy with a mysterious past. He makes people disappear for a living, but only those who really deserve it. His latest mark is Kyra. The intel he has received on her paints her as a conniving bitch who not only stole money from her ex-fiance, but also killed her own father. In his eyes, she's just another job. When he finally catches up with her, her persona doesn't quite add up to the information he was given about her.

In a nutshell, this story features a heroine on the run and a hero who was hired to track her down and kill her. Of course lust turns to love before the truth is revealed behind the circumstances of their meeting. I kept wondering in the back of my mind how those two were going to end up together with such a heavy betrayal looming over their heads. I thought the story flowed nicely and believably in regards to the advancement of their relationship. Their chemistry was off the charts, and it left a blazing trail from beginning to end. We find out mostly everything we need to know about Kyra and her past, but not so much where Reyes is concerned, which was a little disappointing (only because I'm curious as hell and want to know everything about a character).

One of the side characters, Foster, is equally as mysterious. We are given little bits of information about him, but we don't find out until the end whether he's really a good guy or a bad guy.

All in all, I give this five stars because of the suspense, the plot, the very likeable H/H and the fact that I couldn't put the book down. This story was gritty, dirty, and oh so good. ( )
  MsRomanticReads | Apr 12, 2013 |
SKIN GAME was kind of meh, but satisfying just the same. There was nothing wrong with it, and i was in the mood for a book about a hired assassin and the canny target he falls in love with before he can kill her. It's nicely edgy, the sex is a little brutal and pretty hot, it's well-plotted and well-written.

The paranormal aspects are pretty minimal - Kyra's gift is interesting, and the effect it's had on her life is huge, but for the most part we're dealing with a recognizable, contemporary reality.

So the book totally hit the spot, but didn't have me running out to buy the next book in the series...even though I'm totally sure that if I picked it up, I'd like it too. ( )
  MlleEhreen | Apr 3, 2013 |
Kyra Beckwith is a con woman with a unique gift: when she touches another person, she temporarily steals that person’s strongest ability. She mostly uses this gift to hustle lowlifes at pool, but she recently managed to pull off a huge scam against a powerful criminal and casino owner named Serrano. Outraged at Kyra’s theft of $3 million of his money, Serrano has taken out a contract on Kyra’s life, and the man he’s hired for the job is an efficient and deadly killer. Reyes has spent most of his adult life as a hit man, and he’s perfectly willing to kill his targets, since they always deserve it. When he meets Kyra, however, his gut tells him that she’s different. As he gets closer to her in order to learn where she’s stashed Serrano’s money, he also finds himself desperately wanting her. But how can he fall for a girl he’s been hired to kill?

I read Ann Agurre’s Grimspace a while back and really liked it, so I thought I would try this romance that she wrote under a pen name. Right off the bat, I was intrigued by the basic plot; the fact that Reyes is a hit man provides a legitimate obstacle to the romance between the two main characters. And romance does develop, in a fairly predictable way. At first, Kyra and Reyes just have sex (yup, lots of it), but as they spend more time together, deeper feelings emerge as well. The damaged-hero-finally-opens-his-heart-and-learns-to-love trope is pretty common, but it does work here. I also found myself very intrigued by one of the secondary characters, Addison Foster, who seemed to be more complex than the two protagonists. Of course, he’s the hero in book two of this series, and I just might have to pick up Skin Tight for his story. Overall, despite being very predictable and a bit graphic for my tastes, I enjoyed this book.
  christina_reads | Aug 20, 2011 |
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Kyra's a con woman and a thief who can steal her target's strongest skill. But when she becomes the target of a hit man, she won't be able to hide from the passion that engulfs them.

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