The Accidental Assassin by Nichole Chase
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ava McKenzie is a creature of habit. Life is passing her by and she has nothing to show for it. She’s had the same job since she started college, she orders the same dish every time she goes to her favorite restaurant, and only reads books from authors she knows. There is nothing new or surprising in her life… until her best friend marries a man from London. When her newlywed friend asks her to house-sit while she honeymoons, Ava jumps at the chance. She thinks this could be the very thing she needs to shake up her life. Ava throws herself head first into her new lifestyle; she wants to try everything, go everywhere, and never get stuck in a rut again. Of course, offing a man in a car garage hadn’t been one of the things on her list to try.
Owen Walker spends every day in a new place with a new case. As one of the most renowned assassins in the world, he has his choice of marks—and he’s never failed in a mission. When a new hit takes him back to his hometown, he looks forward to spending time somewhere familiar. What he isn’t expecting is to help an attractive, confused American woman find out how she’s ended up on a hit man’s list.
As Ava and Owen dodge bullets, will they be able to escape their undeniable attraction to each other? Or will all of that chemistry blow up in a shower of hot and dangerous sparks?
To me, Nichole Chase has become the literary equivalent of a sure thing. As a story teller, she has consistently delivered with each title she has added to her CV. You are guaranteed an engaging and entertaining tome and you can expect that Nichole will give you something new. She does not tread the safe path nor stick to the same formula. She is a risk taker, extending herself in both genre and style and it has been meteorically successful. Having earned the rare distinction of being a New York Times best seller is testament to that.
The Accidental Assassin is testament to that also and I think it is Chase's most accomplished work to date. Part action, part thriller, Assassin takes the fish out of water scenario and offers it up anew in a frenetic chase story that evolves masterfully through the dual protagonists, Owen and Ava. Chase's grasp of action and tension is confident from the get go. The mystery and conspiracy elements unfold beautifully and keep you guessing throughout and there is a sexual energy between the two leads that burns seductively towards a satisfyingly electric, erotic encounter later in the book.
When we first meet Owen and Ava, a mutual attraction is evident but as their arcs evolve, we find a pair of characters who feel trapped in their respective existences - playing it safe by sticking to what they know. This is used as a primer that draws them towards each other and though it is a subtle thread, I found it really appealing.
One of the most effective devices Chase uses throughout the story is the first person narrative which she shares equally between Owen and Ava. By switching between the two chapter by chapter, Chase builds the narrative and drives the plot forward in a way that I found engaging. I felt invested in both of them. One could argue that this type of switching has the potential to be confusing but Chase handles it beautifully.
The Accidental Assassin ticks all the boxes for me. It's a smart and sexy thrill ride that is signature Nichole Chase and it was a pleasure to delve into.
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