Friday, February 25, 2022

Alice Winters - The Hitman's Guide to Making Friends and Finding Love

Being a hitman has its perks, but I never thought getting an accidental mooning by an attractive PI while he’s caught on a fence would be one of them. While it’s not exactly love at first sight, he’s captured my interest and won’t let go.
Suddenly, I find myself caught in a game of cat and mouse, determined to attract the attention of Jackson, the PI who should be my enemy. He pretends like he’s not flattered by my flowers and the mentions of my totally-not-fictitious blow-up doll Randy (or was it Dandy?), but I know better. Why else would he be teaming up with me to bring down Hardek, one of the city’s most ruthless criminals?
Even though the cops are telling me that the hitman is a notorious contract killer, I can’t help but admit that I’m drawn to him. He’s funny, charismatic, and attractive. There’s no way this ridiculous man can be the person the cops are after.
But when Leland ends up at my doorstep injured, I’m faced with a tough choice. It’s my duty to hand him over to law enforcement, but my heart has other plans. I want to keep him. To protect him. To be with him.

Though one question remains: why in the world does the man have so many d*mn guns?

Comment: Just finished reading this book by Alice Winters, the first story I try by her. I see many readers have loved her work and I was curious to see what it was all about.

In this story, told in alternate POVs by the main characters Leland and Jackson, we follow the never ending shenanigans of these two from the moment they meet while Leland is at a stakeout and Jackson is looking for clues on a case. Leland is actually a young man whose job is being a hit man, and a very successful one at it, and Jackson is a PI who is investigation something, when their paths cross over a fun meet cute. Leland is immediately smitten but it takes him quite a while to convince Jackson they might be a good team. However, with danger lurking and things to solve, will these two ever see eye to eye when they are at different sides of the law?

As soon as I finished this - just minutes ago - I also checked some reviews online and there seems to be a big gap between those who loved it because they could focus on the fun aspects of this book and the ones who didn't like it much because everything, Leland in particular, was over the top. I have to say that having finished, I will agree with the second group and feel sad this evolved as it did.

Actually, the beginning was cute. I liked Leland's personality and Jackson being more serious, offered a fun contrast. Their initial conversations were ridiculous but funny and although it did seem to remove some seriousness from the investigations they were doing - for different reasons - I was also interested in seeing what would happen and was still possible to follow the plot and the motivations they both had. It was also interesting to learn about them, since we do have access to both their POVs, and what they thought and how they reacted to meet one another.

Then, gradually, things developed into more banter between them the more often they interacted, Leland always being snarky and like a comedian and Jackson still more serious and stoic even when provoked by Leland's silliness. I must say this got to be very repetitive and started to be a little annoying but I was still invested in seeing how things would progress and what kind of emotional development would exist for them and how that would compare with the plot's development but to be honest, by the time things reached the half way mark, I was already feeling tired of the same things and of the lack of a more serious tone to the book.

For many readers, the big problem is Leland. He is a 27 year old hit man and his life is explained by traumatic childhood experiences as a runaway and because the man who ends up being a father figure turned him into a hit man. Although this might not be too realistic, it was still believable for the story but Leland copes by being sarcastic, funny, bubbly, cute and always "on". I liked this at first but then we barely have serious moments from him, which means his presence becomes very tiring to follow. Jackson remains the same, personality wise, but it seemed unrealistic how accepting he was of someone who, for all purposes, was a criminal, and how easy he gave in to thoughts of pleasing Leland or making excuses to make him happy, since he had a bad childhood. Not that these things wouldn't be interesting to see developed, but the whole tone and vibe weren't too oriented to this.

At some point, I also stopped following the plot because everything started to feel convoluted and without much sense. Some details just seemed to come out of nowhere when the characters had to deal with something but the pace was all over the place, urgent one moment, domestically boring the next and I found myself skimming pages. There is also the subject of how Jackson's family meets Leland, how some accept the relationship but Jackson's mother didn't... I mean, this could have been another interesting element but I just feel was pointless information, in the big scheme of things.

I did like the beginning and it feels sad the rest wasn't as appealing. The author's style isn't bad and I wonder how much of my dislike from a certain moment on was due to plot's choices and not as much the writing itself... I will try another book by her, from a different series, and see if it might have been just this book that doesn't work for me.
Grade: 4/10

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